William Gilchrist

William Gilchrist

William Gilchrist

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William Wallace Gilchrist (January 8, 1846 – December 20, 1916) was an American composer and a major figure in nineteenth century music of Philadelphia.

Gilchrist was born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1846 and at the age of eleven months moved with his family to Philadelphia, where he studied music with Hugh Archibald Clarke. His father's business having been ruined during the Civil War, young Gilchrist turned to the law and to business for his own living, but finally decided to take up music as a career. With the exception of a short period in Cincinnati (1871–1872), he lived in Philadelphia, where he was active as church organist, teacher, and leader of musical clubs. He founded the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia (1874).

In 1882 Gilchrist won the Cincinnati Festival Prize for his setting of the 46th Psalm, for soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra. Among his other choral works are Ode to the Sun, Journey of Life, The Uplifted Gates, and Legend of the Bended Bow. He composed two nonprogrammatic symphonies, and some chamber music, including a nonet for piano, strings, flute, clarinet and horn (recently published, along with Gilchrist's Piano Trio and Piano Quintet) by Soundpost.org.

Although Gilchrist was one of the very few American composers of this period who did not study in Europe, his style is no less imitative and conventional than that of his Europeanized colleagues.


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