Katherine K. Davis

Biography

Born: June 25, 1892; St. Joseph, MO   Died: April 20, 1981; Littleton, MA  
While most music lovers would not recognize the name of Katherine K. Davis, they have undoubtedly heard at least one of her works, the famous Christmas carol "The Little Drummer Boy." But Davis composed considerably more than just that perennial favorite: her output includes seven operas, cantatas, choruses, songs, piano and organ pieces, and much else, making up more than 600 compositions altogether. Unfortunately, only her famous Christmas Read more piece receives any attention today, but its wide popularity assures Davis a place in music history and leaves the hope that enterprising musicians may one day want to explore the vast output of this largely forgotten pioneering woman.

Davis was born on June 25, 1892, in St. Joseph, MO. She studied piano from her early childhood and began composing at 15. After graduating from St. Joseph High School she enrolled at Wellesley College, where she won the Billings Prize for Composition. As a talented pianist, organist, and composer of promise, she sufficiently impressed the faculty to stay on there as a teacher of piano and theory after her 1914 graduation.

She began advanced studies in her post-graduate years at the New England Conservatory of Music. Later on Davis traveled to Paris where she studied briefly with iconic music pedagogue Nadia Boulanger.

After returning to the U.S. she joined the Faculty at the Concord Academy (Massachusetts) and while there took up the study of choral music with Thomas Whitney Surette. Davis also taught music at the Philadelphia-based Shady Hills School for Girls. While on the faculty there she wrote many works for the school's chorus in hopes of rectifying what she perceived as a paucity of good music for girls' choirs as well as for amateur choral ensembles.

In 1941 Davis wrote her mega-hit "The Little Drummer Boy," which she originally entitled The Carol of the Drum. Oddly, she published the work under the pseudonym C.R.W. Robertson. Early scores and recordings of this piece often carried the attribution "transcribed by C.R.W. Robertson." The piece did not achieve immediate success, but would become a big hit in the postwar era when the Trapp Family Singers recorded it under its original title for RCA. Davis remained active as a composer and educator in her later years. At her death on April 20, 1980, she bequeathed royalties and other monies to the music department at Wellesley College. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 81 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Ultimate Christmas Collection / Mormon Tabernacle Choir
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 535958 Release Date: 10/21/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Lowell Mason,  Mykola Leontovych,  Traditional,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Mormon Tabernacle Choir,  Alexander Schreiner,  Frank Asper,  Marilyn Horne  ... 
    Conductor:  Richard P. Condie,  Jerold D. Ottley,  Leonard Bernstein,  Jerold Ottley
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Brass & Percussion Ensemble,  Columbia Brass Ensemble
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  • 2.
    The Greatest Christmas Choral Classics
    Label: Silva Classics   Catalog: 6049 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Traditional,  Mykola Leontovych,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Lowell Mason  ... 
    Performer:  Crouch End Festival Chorus,  The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
    Conductor:  Paul Bateman,  Evan Jolly
    CD: $18.99
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  • 3.
    111 Classics for Christmas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002179902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Leopold Mozart,  Johnny Marks,  John Frederic Coots  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Donath,  Anna Reynolds,  Christa Ludwig,  Maria Teresa Garatti  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Karl Richter,  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 4.
    Les Choeurs De L'armee Rouge Chantent Noel
    Label: Fremeaux & Associes   Catalog: 5475 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Irving Berlin,  Anonymous,  James Pierpont,  Traditional  ... 
    CD: $18.99
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  • 5.
    Celebration Of Christmas - Lost In Wonder / Bringham Young University
    Label: Byu Music Group   Catalog: 614 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  John Menzies Macfarlane,  Traditional,  William P. Rowlands,  Leslie Bricusse  ... 
    Performer:  Mariah Wilson,  Rachel Mcallister,  Elisabeth Blomquist
    Conductor:  Hall Rosalind,  Ronald Stahell,  Jean Applonie,  Kory Katseanes
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bringham Young University Choir,  Bringham Young University Singers,  Bringham Young University Chorus  ... 
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  • 6.
    Label: Dynamic Nostalgia   Catalog: 4930 Release Date: 10/07/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Traditional,  Richard Storrs Willis,  Felix Bernard,  Adolphe Adam  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mitch Miller & the Gang
    CD: $23.99
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  • 7.
    Let It Snow / Mayer, King's Singers
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001966502 Release Date: 12/03/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jule Styne,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Michael Praetorius,  James Pierpont  ... 
    Performer:  Albrecht Mayer,  Beni Araki
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
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  • 8.
    Christmas with the Vienna Boys Choir
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 9004 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Lowell Mason,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  John Francis Wade  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Marschik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Boys' Choir
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  • 9.
    Christmas With The Vienna Boys' Choir
    Label: Capriccio Records   Catalog: 5160 Release Date: 11/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Lowell Mason,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  John Francis Wade  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Marschik
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Boys' Choir
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  • 10.
    Christmas With Los Romeros
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001747402 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel,  James R. Murray,  Franz Schubert,  Massimo Paris  ... 
    Performer:  Lito Romero,  Pepe Romero,  Celin Romero,  Angel Romero
    Conductor:  Massimo Paris
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Romeros,  Concerto Málaga
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  • 11.
    Label: Cd Baby   Catalog: 5637880790 Release Date: 12/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Katherine K. Davis,  Jester Hairston,  Walter Kent  ... 
    Performer:  Jonathan Story
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  • 12.
    Swing Ye Noel / William Noll, Ritz-Carlton Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 62483 Release Date: 12/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Frank Comstock,  Johnny Marks,  Felix Bernard  ... 
    Conductor:  William Noll
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ritz-Carlton Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Label: Heather Poduska   Catalog: 5637866276 Release Date: 11/29/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Barbara Mandrell,  Katherine K. Davis,  Traditional,  Walter Kent  ... 
    Performer:  Heather Poduska,  Elaine Purcell
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  • 14.
    Holiday Baby
    Label: Harp Music To Go   Catalog: 89076 Release Date: 11/22/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Henry Walford Davies,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  William James Kirkpatrick  ... 
    Performer:  Merry Miller
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  • 15.
    Christmas Goes Baroque - A Musical Tour of Switzerland, Germany & Belgium
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 2110546 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Traditional,  James Pierpont,  Friedrich Silcher  ... 
    Conductor:  Peter Breiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 16.
    Yuletide
    Label: Clarion   Catalog: 941 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Healey Willan,  Katherine K. Davis,  Traditional,  Ralph Vaughan Williams  ... 
    Performer:  John Rutter,  Kelli Lueder,  Michael McDonald,  Andrew Chung  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Hughes
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  • 17.
    Joy To The World / King's Singers
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 268 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Edgar Pettiman,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Philip Lawson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
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  • 18.
    King's Singers Christmas
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 8 Release Date: 10/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Michael Praetorius,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Lowell Mason  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  King's Singers
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  • 19.
    Label: Sonoma   Catalog: 271 Release Date: 10/18/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Irving Berlin,  Franz Xaver Gruber,  Henry Walford Davies,  Lowell Mason  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 20.
    Label: Motema Music   Catalog: 69 Release Date: 10/11/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Thaddeus Jones,  Ethiopian Traditional,  John Henry Hopkins Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  Geri Allen,  Connaitre Miller,  Carolyn Brewer,  Farah Jasmine Griffin
    CD: $15.99
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  • 21.
    Cool Yule / 	United States Air Force Band Airmen Of Note
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: 62992 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  James Pierpont,  John Frederic Coots,  Benjamin Russell Hanby,  Gene Autry  ... 
    Conductor:  Alan C. Sierichs
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note
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  • 22.
    Holiday Note From Home / United States Air Force Airmen Of Note
    Label: Altissimo   Catalog: 60592 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Traditional,  Katherine K. Davis,  Eddie Pola,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band Airmen of Note
    CD: $17.99
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  • 23.
    The Musical Advent Calendar 2011
    Label: Hänssler Classic   Catalog: 93279 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Jean Joseph Mouret,  Andreas Hammerschmidt,  Katherine K. Davis,  Joseph Rheinberger  ... 
    Performer:  Dominik Axtmann,  Franz Troster,  Katja Huhn,  Sophie Moser  ... 
    Conductor:  Hans-Georg Conrad,  Volker Müller,  Christof Schmidt
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Marx Rootschilt Tillermann,  Freiburger Spielleyt,  RSO Chamber Ensemble
    CD: $12.99
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  • 24.
    A Family Christmas / Bell, Royal Scottish National Orchestra & Junior Chorus
    Label: Signum U.k.   Catalog: 202 Release Date: 09/14/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Robert Kaye,  Traditional,  Katherine K. Davis
    Conductor:  Christopher Bell
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra,  Royal Scottish National Junior Chorus
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  • 25.
    Label: Ars Produktion   Catalog: 380888 Release Date: 01/01/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Ariel Ramirez,  Jürgen Essl,  Hugo Distler,  Johannes Crüger  ... 
    Performer:  Wolfgang Schildbach,  Uwe Ungerer,  Anika Sergel-Kohls,  Joe Krieg  ... 
    Conductor:  Nicol Matt
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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