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 51-75 of 84 Available Recordings
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  • 51.
    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
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  • 52.
    David Higgs At Riverside
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49117 Release Date: 09/26/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  William Bolcom,  David Conte,  Maurice Duruflé,  Jehan-Ariste Alain  ... 
    Performer:  David Higgs
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  • 53.
    Prairie - Tone Poems By Leo Sowerby / Paul Freeman, Et Al
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 33 Release Date: 08/10/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Conductor:  Paul Freeman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Czech National Symphony Orchestra
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  • 54.
    Hymns Through The Centuries / Cathedral Choral Society
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49112 Release Date: 02/22/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Villiers Stanford,  Martin Luther,  Traditional,  Johannes Crüger  ... 
    Conductor:  J. Reilly Lewis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  D.C. National Cathedral Choral Society Washington
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  • 55.
    Parables Of God And Man - Music Of Stephen Shewan Vol 2
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 349 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Stephen Shewan,  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Ann Musser Honeywell,  Paul Shewan,  Kevin M. Clarke,  James Bobb  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shewan,  Paul Shewan,  Stephen Shewan,  Franz Anton Krager
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale,  Woodwind Quintet,  Roberts Wesleyan College Brass Ensemble  ... 
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  • 56.
    Sowerby At Trinity / Faythe Freese, Bobby Lewis
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 368 Release Date: 01/25/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Faythe Freese,  Bobby Lewis
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  • 57.
    Evensong For The Feast Of The Epiphany From Grace Cathedral
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49106 Release Date: 04/13/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Rickard,,  Petr Eben,  Cyril Taylor,  Leo Sowerby  ... 
    Performer:  Christopher Putnam,  John Fenstermaker,  Jeffrey Goodsite,  Barrie Cowan  ... 
    Conductor:  John Fenstermaker
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Grace Cathedral Choir San Francisco
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  • 58.
    Sowerby: Symphony No 2, Etc / Freeman, Chicago Sinfonietta
    Label: Cedille Records   Catalog: 39 Release Date: 01/25/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Conductor:  Paul Freeman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Sinfonietta,  Czech National Symphony Orchestra
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  • 59.
    American Classics - Sowerby: Organ Works /Craighead, Mulbury
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559028 Release Date: 01/19/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Rita Lilly,  David Craighead,  David Mulbury
    Conductor:  John Welsh
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fairfield Orchestra
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  • 60.
    Gloriae Dei Cantores - Sowerby - Master Of Sacred Song
    Label: Gloriae Dei Cantores   Catalog: 3359 Release Date: 12/08/1998   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  David Chalmers,  James E. Jordan Jr.
    Conductor:  Elizabeth C. Patterson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloriae Dei Cantores,  Gloriae Dei Brass Ensemble
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  • 61.
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 615 Release Date: 02/17/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Paul Hindemith,  Sigfrid Karg-Elert,  Niels Gade,  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Hans-Otto Jakob
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  • 62.
    Magnificat And Nunc Dimittis Vol 13 / Hancock, Allen, Et Al
    Label: Priory Records   Catalog: 600 Release Date: 01/27/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jack Herman Ossewaarde,  Leo Sowerby,  Jehan Titelouze,  Searle Wright  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Allen
    Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
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  • 63.
    Frederick Swann In Hawaii
    Label: Gothic Records   Catalog: 49092 Release Date: 09/16/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Queen of Hawaii Liliuokalani,  Louis Vierne,  John Stanley,  Leo Sowerby  ... 
    Performer:  Frederick Lewis Swann
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  • 64.
    Sowerby: The Throne Of God, Etc / Ferris, Weisflog, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 232 Release Date: 07/01/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Thomas Weisflog
    Conductor:  William Ferris
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Composer Festival Orchestra,  William Ferris Chorale
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  • 65.
    I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes - Music Of Leo Sowerby
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 238 Release Date: 05/13/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  James Bobb,  Brian Clickner,  Theodore Sipes,  Paul Shewan  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Shewan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale,  Roberts Wesleyan College Brass Ensemble
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  • 66.
    Impressions - Sowerby: Music For Piano / Malcolm Halliday
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 226 Release Date: 04/15/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Malcolm Halliday
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  • 67.
    Organ History - Organ Music In America / Arturo Sacchetti
    Label: Arts Music   Catalog: 47272 Release Date: 04/15/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henrique Oswald,  Arthur Foote,  Alberto Nepomuceno,  Alberto Ginastera  ... 
    Performer:  Arturo Sacchetti
    On sale! $11.98
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  • 68.
    My Love Unspoken - Leo Sowerby: Songs / Osborne, Halliday
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 196 Release Date: 10/01/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Robert Osborne,  Malcolm Halliday
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  • 69.
    Sowerby: Love Came Down At Christmas, Etc / Snyder, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 187 Release Date: 12/12/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Ronald Stalford,  Patricia Snyder
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Convivium,  Con Vivium Choral Ensemble
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  • 70.
    Works For Violin & Organ Vol 1 / Murray-lohuis Duo
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 200 Release Date: 11/01/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Oreste Ravanello,  John Stanley,  Joseph Rheinberger,  Jan Bender  ... 
    Performer:  Ardyth Lohuis,  Robert Murray
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Murray-Lohuis Duo
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  • 71.
    Historic Organs Of Baltimore / Armstrong, Ballinger, Bowie
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 91 Release Date: 09/26/1995   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Louis J.A. Lefébure-Wely,  Charles Zeuner,  Healey Willan  ... 
    On sale! $51.98
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  • 72.
    Historic Organs Of San Francisco
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 88 Release Date: 09/26/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Sir William Walton,  Jeanne Demessieux,  Théodore Dubois,  Louis J.A. Lefébure-Wely  ... 
    Performer:  Thomas Hazleton,  Robert F. Bates,  Rosalind Mohnsen,  Marilyn Stulken  ... 
    On sale! $41.98
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  • 73.
    Leo Sowerby: Works For Organ / Lorenz Maycher
    Label: Raven Recordings   Catalog: 310 Release Date: 09/26/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  Lorenz Maycher,  William Watkins,  James Culp
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  • 74.
    Sowerby: Works For Organ And Orchestra / Craighead, Mulbury
    Label: Marco Polo   Catalog: 223725 Release Date: 06/21/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leo Sowerby
    Performer:  David Craighead,  David Mulbury,  Susan Radcliff,  Jeffrey Caswell  ... 
    Conductor:  John Welsh
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fairfield Orchestra
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  • 75.
    Live From Spivey Hall / Alan Morrison
    Label: Aca Digital   Catalog: 20022 Release Date: 05/05/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ernesto Lecuona,  Dudley Buck,  Jon Spong,  Dan Locklair  ... 
    Performer:  Alan Morrison
    On sale! $19.98
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