Stillman Kelley, Edgar


Stillman Kelley, Edgar

Aladdin, A Chinese Suite for Orchestra, Op.10

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Edgar Stillman Kelley – Alladin, A Chinese Suite for Orchestra, Op.10

(b. Sparta/Wisconsin, 14. April 1857 – d. Oxford/Ohio, 12. November 1944)

Edgar Stillman Kelley was a significant figure in American music of the early 20th century. Renowned not only as a composer but also as a pianist, conductor, scholar, teacher, lecturer, and author, his diverse talents left a strong impression on audiences and critics alike. However, despite his once-prominent stature, Kelley’s name has largely faded from contemporary recognition. Kelley dedicated himself to embodying the essence of classical music traditions in his compositions, infused with a sense of daring exploration and innovation, through a subtle mockery and an unusual treatment of orchestral colours.

Kelley was born on April 14, 1857, in Sparta, Wisconsin. His father, a native of Connecticut, was a federal revenue agent while his mother came from Vermont and belonged to a musical family. She was a skilled musician and gave young Edgar his first piano lessons and later placed him under the tuition of her own teacher, Farwell W. Merriam.

Thanks to the influence of William Lord, a visiting Unitarian minister from Boston, Kelley moved to Chicago in 1874 to study piano with Napoleon Ledochowski, while Clarence Eddy introduced him to Chopin’s work, harmony and counterpoint. Two years later he moved to Germany where he studied piano with Wilhelm Krüger and Wilhelm Speidel, organ with Frederich Finck, and composition with Max Seifriz at the Stuttgart Conservatory. Seifriz, the royal court conductor and a personal friend of Wagner and Berlioz, was deeply devoted to the works of Beethoven and Bach. Among Kelley’s first compositions were a Concert Polonaise for piano four hands, reminiscent of Chopin, and a Theme and Variations for string quartet. …

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