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Louise Talma

Biography

Born: October 31, 1906; Arcachon, France   Died: August 13, 1996; Saratoga Springs, NY  
A prolific composer who created more than 40 major works in her lifetime, Louise Talma progressed from a neo-Classical to a more radical serial style and beyond and went from a rigorous traditional education to making significant "firsts" as a female composer.

Raised in New York City, she studied theory and composition at the Institute of Musical Arts between 1922 - 1930 and received her bachelor of music degree from New York University
Read more and masters of arts degree from Columbia University. At the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, she studied piano with Isidor Philipp and had rigorous training in composition with Nadia Boulanger every summer from 1926 to 1939. Talma taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Talma's compositions of this time were in her spare neo-Classical style that often employed static harmonies and short, distinct melodies in counterpoint. They varied through devices such as mode, tempo, rhythm, metric, accentuation change, imitation, augmentation, and diminution of rhythmic units; ostinatos and pedal points in such works as Song of the Songless (1928), Three Madrigals (1928) for women's voices and string quartet, Two Dances (1934) for piano, and the sacred work for mixed chorus and organ In principio erat verbum (1939).

The majority of Talma's compositions were written at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, where she met and was influenced by composers of the so-called Boston school (Berger, Foss, Fine, Haieff, Shapero, and Spies). Talma continued to write in her neo-Classical style until 1954 when serial techniques made their appearance in her composition Six Etudes for piano. In her opera The Alcestiad (1955 - 1958) with text by Thornton Wilder, she combined her previous tonality with the new serial procedures. The opera contains widely contrasting moods attained mainly through harmonic coloration. Yet her general approach still remains elegant and restrained in emotion. In her last works, for example -- Full Circle (1985) for orchestra, Spacings (1994) for viola and piano, A Time to Remember (1966 - 1967) for mixed choir and orchestra based on speeches of John F. Kennedy -- she abandoned serialism to achieve a new kind of tonality.

Talma was awarded three honorary doctorates and many grants. She received the Marjorie Peabody Waite Award (1960) and was the first woman to receive two Guggenheims, the first woman elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1974), the first American woman to have a full-scale opera performed in Germany, the first American to teach at Fontainebleau, and the first woman to receive the Sibelius Medal for composition from the Harriet Cohen International Awards in London (1963). Read less
American Classics - Talma: The Ambient Air, Etc
Release Date: 03/21/2006   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559236   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-13 of 13 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 549 Release Date: 07/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louise Talma
    Performer:  Alvin McCall,  Jayn Rosenfeld,  Ronald Oakland,  Sahan Arzruni  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Black
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  PRISM Orchestra
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  • 2.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 374 Release Date: 01/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Donald Martino,  Verne Reynolds,  Michael Webster,  Louise Talma
    Performer:  Michael Webster,  Beveridge Webster
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  • 3.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 281 Release Date: 10/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louise Talma,  Roger Sessions,  Henry Cowell,  Donald Lybbert
    Performer:  Herbert Rogers
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  • 4.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 145 Release Date: 05/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louise Talma,  Vivian Fine,  Julia Perry,  Mabel Daniels  ... 
    Conductor:  William Strickland
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Imperial Philharmonic Orchestra Tokyo
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  • 5.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 187 Release Date: 01/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lester Trimble,  Louise Talma
    Conductor:  Akeo Watanabe,  Harold Aks
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Japan Philharmonic Orchestra,  Dorian Chorale
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  • 6.
    American Classics - Talma: The Ambient Air, Etc
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559236 Release Date: 03/21/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louise Talma
    Performer:  Diana Ambache,  Daniel Pailthorpe,  Jeremy Polmear,  Paul Sperry  ... 
    Conductor:  Diana Ambache
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ambache Chamber Ensemble,  Ambache Chamber Orchestra
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  • 7.
    Childhood Memories - Music For Younger Pianists / Arzruni
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80590 Release Date: 09/24/2002   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Amy Marcy Beach,  Roger Sessions,  Louise Talma,  Lou Harrison  ... 
    Performer:  Sahan Arzruni
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  • 8.
    Music Of Louise Talma / Bogard, Garnett, Przygocki, Oakes
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 833 Release Date: 10/19/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Louise Talma
    Performer:  Theresa Bogard,  Gregory Oakes,  Rod Garnett,  James Przygocki
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  • 9.
    Voices From Elysium - Copland, Cowell, Crawford-seeger, Etc
    Label: New World Records   Catalog: 80543 Release Date: 09/29/1998   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ruth Crawford Seeger,  Henry Cowell,  Louise Talma,  Miriam Gideon  ... 
    Performer:  Beverly Morgan,  Phyllis Bryn-Julson,  Joan Tower,  Patricia Spencer  ... 
    Conductor:  Paul Dunkel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae members,  Da Capo Chamber Players
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  • 10.
    Night Of The Four Moons / James Freeman, Orchestra 2001
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 760 Release Date: 08/19/1997   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Crumb,  Jay Reise,  Louise Talma,  Timothy Greatbatch  ... 
    Performer:  Barbara Ann Martin,  Paul Sperry,  Miles B. Davis,  Carmen Pelton
    Conductor:  James Freeman
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra 2001
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  • 11.
    Patricia Spencer - The Now And Present Flute
    Label: Neuma   Catalog: 88 Release Date: 04/16/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Salvatore Martirano,  Stephen Jaffe,  Shirish Korde,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  Patricia Spencer,  Linda Hall
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  • 12.
    Paul Sperry Sings American Cycles & Sets
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 58 Release Date: 04/16/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Christopher Berg,  Louise Talma,  Richard Wilson,  Larry Alan Smith  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Sperry,  Irma Vallecillo
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  • 13.
    An American Sampler - From Billings To Bolcom / Paul Sperry
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 81 Release Date: 04/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maury Yeston,  Warren Swenson,  Stephen Foster,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Paul Sperry,  Irma Vallecillo
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