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Carpenter, John Alden

american chicago composer success

important American composer; b. Park Ridge, 111., Feb. 28, 1876; d. Chicago, April 26, 1951. He studied in Chicago with Amy Fay and W.C.E. Seeboeck, and then with J.K. Paine at Harvard Univ. (B.A., 1897). During a trip to Rome (1906), he had some lessons with Elgar, and then completed his training in Chicago with B. Ziehn (1908–12). He was employed in his father’s shipping supply business, later serving as its vice-president (1909–36). In subsequent years, he devoted himself entirely to composition. In 1918 he was elected a member of the National Inst. of Arts and Letters, and received its Gold Medal in 1947. In 1942 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Leters. Carpenter gained success as a composer with his first orch. score, the humorous suite Adventures in a Perambulator (1914). Adopting mildly modernistic technques, he was notably successful in his works on American subjects with a tinge of ragtime and jazz elements. His “jazz pantomime” Krazy Kat (1921), after the well-known comic strip by George Herriman, proved an immediate success. It was followed by his Skyscrapers (1923–24), “a ballet of American life,” which retains its historial interest as a period piece. Among his orch. works, the most notable is his symphonic poem Sea Drift (1933), after Whitman. Carpenter also distinguished himself as a composer of songs.

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