professor, and a prominent representative of nationalism in U.S.
music. He came to be regarded as the musical spokesman for the American
Born : Feb. 12, 1898, Lincoln County, Okla., U.S. Died : Oct. 1,
1979, Santa Monica, Calif.
His family moved to California during his childhood. He was a truck
driver for four years, then at age 24 studied music in California.
Later he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who trained many
distinguished composers. His first significant work was a concerto
for clarinet, piano, and string quartet (1927). After returning
to the United States he held teaching positions (composer in residence
at California State University at Los Angeles, and professor emeritus
of music at the University of California at Los Angeles at the time
of his death) and was active as an organizer of music festivals.
Harris' works are marked by broad tonal melodies and asymmetrical
rhythms. Many reflect American scenes and music: When Johnny Comes
Marching Home (1935), a symphonic overture on a Civil War song;
the Fourth (Folksong) Symphony with chorus (1940); and Kentucky
Spring (1949), for orchestra. His Sixth Symphony (1944) is subtitled
Gettysburg Address, and his 10th Symphony (1965) the Abraham Lincoln
Of his 16 symphonies, the best known and most often performed is
the Third (1939), written in a single movement with contrasting
sections of lyrical and dramatic nature. The Fifth Symphony (1943)
has a vigorous proclamatory quality, and his Seventh (1952) shows
his characteristic harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic features to be
further strengthened and developed. In chamber music he followed
classical models. He wrote three string quartets, a piano trio,
a piano quintet, and a string quintet. Particularly interesting
is the Third String Quartet (1939), in the form of four preludes
and fugues in modal harmony.