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Ross Lee Finney

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Title: Ross Lee Finney  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Octatonic scale, Robert Ashley, William Bolcom, Symphony No. 3, Roger Sessions, The Nun's Priest's Tale, Viola sonata, Willson Osborne, Robert Morris (composer), William Albright (musician)
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Ross Lee Finney

Ross Lee Finney Junior (December 23, 1906–February 4, 1997) was an American composer born in Wells, Minnesota who taught for many years at the University of Michigan. He studied with Nadia Boulanger, Edward Burlingame Hill, Alban Berg (from 1931-2) and Roger Sessions (in 1935).

His students included Leslie Bassett, George Crumb, Burton Beerman, Roger Reynolds, William Albright, Donald Bohlen, Robert Ashley, Robert Morris, Richard Toensing, Stephen Chatman, Rolv Yttrehus, Robert Cogan, Roland Trogan, George Balch Wilson, Philip Krumm, and Donald Harris.

According to the notes for the Composers Recordings, Inc. recording of Finney's second cello sonata (about 1953), Chromatic Fantasy In E for Violoncello Solo (1957) and second piano trio (1954), he received the Rome Prize in 1960 and the Brandeis Medal in 1968. He is quoted in those notes as having begun writing serial music from time to time beginning with his sixth string quartet (a work which uses serial principles but is "in E" on the score), his next work to be composed after the sonata.

He wrote eight string quartets, four symphonies as well as other orchestral works, other chamber works and songs.

Finney died on February 4, 1997, at his home in Carmel, California. He was 90.

Selected worklist

  • Concertos
    • For violin and orchestra (1933, revised 1947)
    • For saxophone and orchestra (1976)
    • Two Piano concertos (one in 1949)
    • Concerto for percussion and orchestra (about 1965)
  • Orchestral works
    • Spaces
    • Four symphonies (1 "Communiqué 1943",2,[1] 3,[2] 4[3])
  • Chamber music
    • Eight string quartets
    • Three violin sonatas (1934 in C minor,[4] ?, 1957)
    • Two cello sonatas (no. 1 from 1941,[4] number two in C published around 1953)
    • Six piano sonatas
    • Sonatas for viola (at least two, no. 1 published around 1937, no. 2 around 1971)
    • Piano trio in E minor (about 1930)
    • Piano quartet (1948)
    • 2 Piano quintets (second written 1961)
    • String quintet (published 1966)
    • Quartet for oboe, violoncello, percussion and piano (1979)
  • Other
    • "Spherical Madrigals" (1947)
    • "Organ Fantasies" (5)
    • "24 Inventions" (for piano)



  • University of Michigan Record Obituary
  • in the Eugene Ormandy regarding premieres of symphonies 2 and 3, etc.)
  • The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Contains information not found in the above PDF finding aid.
  • Notes to a 1976 and 1981 recording of works by William Bolcom and Ross Lee Finney (available as a Google Cache)
  • [1]

Further reading

  • White, John Norman. The solo piano music of Ross Lee Finney : a study of the role of the editor based on the unpublished written correspondence between Finney and John Kirkpatrick, with a detailed examination of the fourth piano sonata. Jacksonville State University. Dissertation. 1974.

External links

  • Ross Lee Finney Papers, 1916-1996 Music Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

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