Today marks the birthday of Vincent Persichetti, one of the most hard-working and productive American composers of the 20th century.
Persichetti was born in Philadelphia on June 6th in 1915, and died in that city 72 years later. During a professional career that spanned half a century, he wrote an influential book on modern compositional techniques and taught at and served as director of some of America’s finest music schools. Philip Glass and Peter Schickele were among his many composition students.
Perischetti composed an impressive body of original works, including 25 instrumental pieces he entitled “Parables,” and 15 entitled “Serenades,” some written for unconventional combinations of instruments like trombone, viola, and cello.
He also composed 14 pieces for wind band, and in its 1987 Persichetti obituary, The New York Times noted, “Mr. Persichetti's works for band—an ensemble that many 20th-century composers have neglected—provided an engaging, sophisticated introduction to contemporary music for thousands of young musicians.”
Persichetti often described his music as being a combination of “grit” and “grazioso,” and claimed that his car proved a good place to compose music. It’s said that Persichetti often taped music paper to his steering wheel in case he had a good idea while on the road.
These days, he’d be pulled over and get a hefty ticket for distracted driving, of course.