Elinor Remick Warren


Born: February 23, 1900; Los Angeles, CA   Died: April 27, 1991; Los Angeles, CA  
Elinor Remick Warren was a member of the group of American neo-Romantic composers, which emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, that included Samuel Barber and Howard Hanson. She gained considerable esteem as a composer without achieving stardom and was also highly regarded as a pianist and accompanist.

Her parents were well-trained as musicians, although they decided on a conventional life as a businessman and his wife. Her mother was a
Read more pianist whose teacher had studied with Franz Liszt, and her father was a tenor. The family often attended concerts of the Los Angeles Symphony and visiting artists. From the age of four Elinor was able to pick out tunes at the piano, which her surprised and delighted mother wrote down, and soon got the knack of musical notation, writing out the music herself.

By the time the family took a seven month trip to Europe in 1912, Elinor was thoroughly trained in music and able to appreciate performances of Wagner in Munich and Paris, and other important events. As a high school sophomore she began studying theory and harmony with Gertrude Ross. At Ross' urging Elinor sent a vocal solo called "A Song of June" to the major publishing house of G. Schirmer in New York, which accepted it.

She studied at Mills College in Oakland, CA, and had master classes in piano with Leopold Godowsky and Harold Bauer. In 1920 she went to New York for five years of study with Frank LaForge and Clarence Dickinson. She became known as an outstanding pianist and accompanist. She played for major artists such as Margaret Matzenauer, Florence Easton, Lucrezia Bori, and Lawrence Tibbett, some of whom came to include her songs on their recital programs. She married in 1925, a union that did not last.

In 1932 she turned to her first large-scale work with orchestra, The Harp Weaver, for women's chorus, orchestra, and baritone soloist. It won wide praise when premiered in New York in 1936. That year she remarried, to a film producer and businessman named Z. Wayne Griffin. They had two sons and a daughter, and remained together until his death in 1981.

Around 1936 she was inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Idylls of the King, or, more precisely, she decided then to act on the enthusiasm for "The Passing of the King" that first had been kindled when her high school English teacher read it for class. She wrote a large-scale choral symphony on this text, premiered in 1940 by the great English conductor Alfred Coates, who was visiting in Los Angeles. The premiere was played on a nationwide radio network and brought her wide attention. The work, originally called The Passing of the King but retitled to The Legend of King Arthur when she revised it in 1974, remains her best-known large work. Although it requires large forces, it has been revived by such conductors as Pierre Monteux, John Barbirolli, André Kostelanetz, Roger Wagner, Alfred Wallenstein, and Richard Hickox.

Warren wrote over 200 compositions, with a strong preponderance of choral and choral-orchestral works. The most frequent inspirations for her music were the landscape of the American West (The Crystal Lake, Along the Western Shore, Singing Earth) and mystical subjects of Romantic flavor, such as the Arthurian legend. Her 1959 composition Abram in Egypt might be one of the first works to include texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. After her death in 1991, an Elinor Remick Warren Society was established to both spread her music and promote American classical vocal music. Read less

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