Leo Sowerby

Biography

Born: May 1, 1895; Grand Rapids, MI   Died: July 7, 1968; Port Clinton, OH  
Sowerby began piano lessons when he was seven and was teaching himself theory from a textbook at 11. He moved to Chicago in 1909 and continued his music studies while at Englewood High School. At age 15, Sowerby received some cursory instruction on the organ, but from then on would be self-taught.

Sowerby's debut as a composer came in 1913 when the Chicago Symphony at an all-America concert performed his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.
Read more Four years later, Sowerby gave his first public performance on the piano at the Norfolk, Connecticut, Festival.

His first pair of published compositions was a Woodwind Quintet (1916) and Serenade for string quartet (1917), which was a birthday present to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. In December 1917, Sowerby went into the U.S. Army and served for 15 months in England and France as a clarinetist and bandmaster. Sowerby remained in Europe after his discharge from the army and began composing a series of works including his First Symphony, which led to him being awarded the first American Prix de Rome in 1921. For the next three years Sowerby resided at the American Academy in Rome, writing among others From the Northland a composition that would win the Society for the Publication of American Music Award.

Sowerby returned to the U.S. in 1924 and began writing music embracing American idioms including two pieces for jazz band, Syncopata and Monotony. Sowerby even adapted the popular folk tune "Pop Goes the Weasel" and arranged it for flute, oboe, clarinet, and oboe.

In 1932, Sowerby joined the faculty of the American Conservatory in its composition department and remained there until 1962. He also served as choirmaster and organist of St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago from 1927 to 1961, where he wrote a large body of music for chorus and organ. His love of religious music led to his founding of the College of Church Musicians in Washington D.C., which he served as director until 1968.

Prior to World War II, Sowerby was one of the most frequently performed American composers and by 1943, had received the Society for the Publication of American Music Award four times. He received the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1946 for his The Canticle of the Sun, a cantata for chorus and orchestra, which employed Matthew Arnold's English translation of the canticle of St. Francis of Assisi. Later awards include an honorary fellowship at Trinity College in London and the Royal School of Church Music in Croydon, England (1963). In the same year, Sowerby was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. Read less
Browse 26-50 of 83 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Light's Glittering Morn - A Musical Celebration
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54134 Release Date: 09/24/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anthony Piccolo,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Herbert Howells,  Gerald Finzi  ... 
    Performer:  David Summers,  Milton Stevens,  Steven Hendrickson,  Robert Lehman  ... 
    Conductor:  Douglas Major,  John Fenstermaker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grace Cathedral Choir San Francisco,  Washington National Cathedral Choir
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  • 27.
    Mosaics In Sound - Cook, Parker, Sowerby, Etc / Laubach
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7210 Release Date: 09/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Derek Bourgeois,  Herbert Howells,  Olivier Messiaen,  Joseph Bonnet  ... 
    Performer:  Mark Laubach
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  • 28.
    Praise The Lord / Hancock, Choir Of St Thomas Church
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 425800 Release Date: 04/18/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gerre Hancock,  Ned Rorem,  Leo Sowerby,  Conrad Susa  ... 
    Performer:  Judith Hancock
    Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
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  • 29.
    Paths of Grace - Brahms, Lotti, et al / Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 116 Release Date: 10/24/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giovanni Palestrina,  Joseph Rheinberger,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Conductor:  Elizabeth C. Patterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores
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  • 30.
    Label: Timelesss Tuneworks   Catalog: 5637384427 Release Date: 08/01/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Pietro Yon,  Mel Torme,  Irving Berlin  ... 
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  • 31.
    Sowerby: Land Of Rest;  Et Al / Robert Parris
    Label: Loft Recordings   Catalog: 1080 Release Date: 06/13/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  César Franck,  Marcel Dupré,  Dietrich Buxtehude  ... 
    Performer:  Robert Parris
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  • 32.
    Joy And Gladness / Patterson, Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 3358 Release Date: 05/30/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Juan Esquivel Barahona,  Joseph Rheinberger,  Bruce Neswick  ... 
    Conductor:  Elizabeth C. Patterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores
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  • 33.
    Gloriae Dei Cantores - Prism / Elizabeth C. Patterson, Et Al
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 3366 Release Date: 02/06/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Francisco Guerrero,  Leo Sowerby,  Aaron Copland,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  James Jordan,  Chris Helfrich,  Kathy Schuman,  David Chalmers  ... 
    Conductor:  Elizabeth C. Patterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores,  Archangelus Brass Ensemble
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  • 34.
    Discoveries: Christopher Marks Plays The Crouse Holtkamp
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 790 Release Date: 11/01/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  David N. Johnson,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Tunder,  Nicolas Scherzinger  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Marks
    CD: $17.99
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  • 35.
    Philadelphia Organ Builder / Parrott, Glandorf
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 780 Release Date: 10/25/2005   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Matthew Glandorf,  Béla Bartók,  Herbert Howells  ... 
    Performer:  Matthew Glandorf,  Wesley Parrot
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  • 36.
    American Organ Music 1890-1940 / Samuel John Swartz
    Label: Motette   Catalog: 1090 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Dudley Buck,  Horace Alden Miller,  Lynnwood Farnam,  Edwin Lemare  ... 
    Performer:  Samuel John Swartz
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  • 37.
    Eternal Light - Rachmaninov, Et Al / Gloriae Dei Cantores
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 3353 Release Date: 07/26/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Virgil Thomson,  Giovanni F. Anerio,  Robert Starer,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Conductor:  Elizabeth C. Patterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores
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  • 38.
    An American Album - Sowerby, Et Al / Harold Stover
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 765 Release Date: 06/28/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby,  George Gershwin,  Harold Stover,  Louis Alter
    Performer:  Harold Stover
    On sale! $19.98
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  • 39.
    Two By 2 - Two Organ Symphonies On Two Magnificent Organs
    Label: Jan Kraybill   Catalog: 5637364423 Release Date: 02/15/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles-Marie Widor,  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Jan Kraybill
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  • 40.
    Paul Freeman Introduces... Vol 11 - Marilyn Mason
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 706 Release Date: 12/28/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Bolcom,  Petr Eben,  Leo Sowerby,  Emma Lou Diemer
    Performer:  Marilyn Mason
    Conductor:  Paul Freeman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech National Symphony Orchestra
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  • 41.
    Historic Organs Of North Carolina
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 1 Release Date: 11/30/2004   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Louis-Nicolas Clérambault,  Henry Thomas Smart,  Henry Morton Dunham  ... 
    Performer:  Kristin Gronning Farmer,  Grant Hellmers,  Stewart Wayne Foster,  Rosalind Mohnsen  ... 
    On sale! $51.98
    CD: $39.99
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  • 42.
    A Cappella II / Hancock, St. Thomas Choir of Men & Boys
    Label: Koch International Classics   Catalog: 7490 Release Date: 10/07/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gray,,  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Charles Wood,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Judith Hancock,  Gerre Hancock
    Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
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  • 43.
    Works For Violin & Organ Vol 5 - All American / Murray, Etc
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 650 Release Date: 06/24/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lewis E. Whikehart,  Charles Callahan,  Richard Wienhorst,  Gardner Read  ... 
    Performer:  Ardyth Lohuis,  Robert Murray
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Murray-Lohuis Duo
    On sale! $20.98
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  • 44.
    American Works For Organ And Orchestra / Schrader, Kalmar
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 63 Release Date: 06/18/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Colgrass,  Leo Sowerby,  Walter Piston,  Samuel Barber
    Performer:  David Schrader
    Conductor:  Carlos Kalmar
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grant Park Orchestra
    CD: $17.99
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  • 45.
    Popular Organ Music Vol 5 / Judith Hancock
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 599 Release Date: 02/27/2001   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alberto Ginastera,  Leo Sowerby,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Sigfrid Karg-Elert  ... 
    Performer:  Judith Hancock
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 46.
    Forever Methuen - Great Organ Of Methuen Music Hall / Hohman
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7066 Release Date: 12/19/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Marcel Dupré,  Leo Sowerby,  George Frideric Handel  ... 
    Performer:  Frederick Hohman
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  • 47.
    Music For Advent / Men And Boys Choir, Grace Cathedral
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49119 Release Date: 11/28/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Michael Praetorius,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anonymous,  Charles Wood  ... 
    Performer:  John Fenstermaker,  Charles Putnam,  Christopher Putnam
    Conductor:  John Fenstermaker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grace Cathedral Choir San Francisco
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  • 48.
    The Grand Organ At Sydney Hall - Hollins, Et Al / Guggenmos
    Label: Motette   Catalog: 1259 Release Date: 11/28/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louis Vierne,  Samuel Barber,  Leo Sowerby,  Edwin Lemare  ... 
    Performer:  Willibald Guggenmos
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 49.
    Great Cathedral Anthems Vol 11 / Choir Of St Thomas Church
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 629 Release Date: 10/24/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Amy Marcy Beach,  Richard Dirksen,  Harold Friedell,  Will C. Macfarlane  ... 
    Performer:  Judith Hancock
    Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
    On sale! $22.98
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  • 50.
    Sing Lullaby / Ayer, Memphis Chamber Choir And Boychoir
    Label: Pro Organo   Catalog: 7099 Release Date: 10/01/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Marcel Dupré,  Leo Sowerby,  Benjamin Britten  ... 
    Performer:  John Ayer,  Julie Campbell,  William Krieger,  Randal Rushing  ... 
    Conductor:  John Ayer
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Memphis Boys Choir,  Memphis Chamber Choir,  Memphis Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra
    On sale! $19.98
    CD: $15.99
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