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Gail Kubik

Biography

Born: September 5, 1914; South Coffeyville, OK   Died: July 20, 1984; Covina, CA  
Gail Thompson Kubik was born in Oklahoma to a father of Bohemian descent and a mother who was a concert singer and student of Ernestine Schumann-Heink. Kubik and all his siblings were subjected to a musical grounding from earliest childhood. In 1930, the Kubiks formed a chamber ensemble that toured the American midwest until 1937. In 1929, Kubik was awarded a scholarship to the Eastman School of Music. Many college students of the 1930s endured Read more the Depression by staying within the educational system, and Kubik likewise passed the entire decade either as a student or teacher. He took violin from Samuel Belov and Scott Willits, and premiered his First Violin Concerto in Chicago in 1938. Kubik studied composition with Leo Sowerby and Walter Piston, among others. Also in 1938, Kubik attracted attention through a work based on folklore, In Praise of Johnny Appleseed, for bass-baritone, chorus and orchestra. In 1940, Kubik left the teacher's college at Columbia University in order to take a position writing music for radio drama programs at the NBC. In 1942, Kubik scored his first film, The World At War. This won an NAACC award, and Kubik was named musical director for the military film unit at OWI headed by Frank Capra. Kubik wrote scores for the Why We Fight series; one of them, The Memphis Belle, he turned into a concert work with narrator. During this time, Kubik's Second Violin Concerto won a competition sponsored by Jascha Heifetz. As Kubik was discharged from the military in 1946, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and composed a folk opera, A Mirror for the Sky, and a ballet for dance band and singer, Frankie and Johnny. The late 1940s were busy for Kubik; scoring films, writing his First Symphony and fulfilling commissions. In 1950, Kubik collaborated with Ted Geisel (also known as "Dr. Seuss") on a project entitled Gerald McBoing Boing, the first fruit of which was a 78-rpm children's record narrated by Harold Peary (The Great Gildersleeve). Geisel sold Gerald McBoing Boing to Steven Bosustow of UPA, who produced it as an animated cartoon directed by Bob Cannon. Gerald McBoing Boing won an Oscar in 1951 for best animated short; Kubik earned another for its music. In 1950-51 Kubik was the recipient of the Prix de Rome and served three years at the St. Cecilia Academy. In 1952, he composed his Sinfonia Concertante, which earned Kubik the 1952 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In 1953, Kubik published a concert version of Gerald McBoing Boing, which has been a children's concert staple ever since. In 1955, Kubik returned to the U.S. to write his final film score, The Desperate Hours, and responded with his Third Symphony to a commission from Dmitri Mitropoulos and the New York Philharmonic. In 1959, Kubik returned to Europe, ostensibly to teach and compose, until 1967, but little was accomplished in this second European sojourn. Returning to Kansas State University in 1967, Kubik was happy to accept a President's commission for A Record of Our Time, set for narrator, vocal soloist, chorus, and orchestra. With a text compiled by Kubik and novelist Harvey Swados, this was premiered in Manhattan, Kansas on November 11, 1970, with Ray Milland as narrator. That same year, Kubik accepted his final teaching post, composer-in-residence at Scripps College in Claremont, California, that he held until his retirement in 1980. Kubik's last major work was Magic, Magic, Magic, composed in 1976 for the Texas Bicentennial, and premiered in San Antonio. Gail Kubik died at age 69 in 1984. Read less

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