In Memoriam ACA members


JOYCE HOPE SUSKIND (1928-2017) passed away at her home in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 26th. Joyce Hope Suskind enjoyed a varied career as composer, performer, and teacher in New York, her native city. After entering the Juilliard School on an oboe scholarship, she transferred her major to the study of voice. She is a self-taught composer. Her composing career grew out of her work as improvisational pianist for the Martha Graham School. She was commissioned by Lehman College to compose a score for Balinese dance, using gamelan and other instruments. She became a composer of art songs, published by Hildegard and American Composers Edition.

WILLIAM HELLERMANN (1939-2017) passed away on Monday, Feb 6th in upstate New York, after a 7 month battle with cancer. He was entertaining guests at his hospice room with his cheerful presence almost to the end. Bill's program length solo flute work "Three Weeks in Cincinnati in December" was just released (January 2017) on New World Records, with Robert Dick, flutist. His longtime work on the Sound Art (New Music) calendar will be greatly missed. He was also a visual artist and electronic music artist. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His compositions, which will be archived at the Fales Library of New York University, have received frequent performances and by such organizations as The Kitchen, Experimental Intermedia Foundation, Roulette, Sounds Out of Silent Spaces, Creative Time, The Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, World Music Institute, The Group for Contemporary Music, Evenings for New Music, Aspen Music Festival, Tanglewood, Utrecht Symphony Orchestra (Holland), RAI Symphony Orchestra (Rome), Nuova Consonanza (Rome), Biennale de Paris, and much more.

Elizabeth Bell (1928-2016) graduated from Wellesley College (Music) in 1950, and from Juilliard (Composition) in 1953. She was music critic of the Ithaca Journal, 1971-1975; one of the founders of New York Women Composers; and a member of Board of Governors of American Composers Alliance, 2000-2004. She received grants and was commissioned by many fine performers over the years, including New York State Council on the Arts, the Bradshaw/Buono duo, the Inoue Chamber Ensemble, North/South Consonance, the Putnam Valley Orchestra, and Vienna Modern Masters. Awards have included the Delius Prize (Keyboard), 1994; first prize (1986), and grand prize (1996) in the Utah Composers Competition; many Meet-the-Composer grants.

Elliott Schwartz (1936-2016) one of Maine’s most influential classical music composers and a longtime Bowdoin College music professor known for inspiring students during a 43-year career, died Wednesday, Dec 7th, 2016 at the age of 80.  Schwartz was born in New York City and studied composition with well-known composers Otto Luening and Jack Beeson. His wife, Dorothy Schwartz, was an artist, professor and past director of the Maine Humanities Council who was considered a driving force in Maine’s cultural scene for some 20 years. She died in 2014 at the age of 75. Besides his long career at Bowdoin, Schwartz had residencies or visiting professorships at Ohio State University, the University of California and Harvard, as well as Cambridge University in England.

Fellow composers and musicians from around the country flooded his Facebook page with their memories of his warm demeanor and creative mind, which constantly pushed the boundaries of music. He composed one piece based on actual Facebook posts, which included musicians reading the posts, while another piece featured TVs and radios on stage with the performers. His 1966 piece “Elevator Music” was performed by 12 small groups on various floors of a building, while the audience rode an elevator and heard parts of the piece on each floor.

 Griffith Rose (1936-2016) went to Yale from 1953 to 1954, where he enjoyed a class in ancient Greek poetry. He was “chucked out” as he recalled, from his other three courses —philosophy, chemistry, and German. Rose learned to read music by looking at scores and listening to recordings. He studied carefully the Bartók string quartets, the first symphony of Shostakovich, and an unfinished viola concerto of Bartók, reconstructed from Bartók’s notes by Tibor Serly.

Rose studied with Isadore Freed at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford in the mid 1950s. It was Darmstadt that lured Rose to Europe soon thereafter. Rose moved to Germany to attend the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg as Wolfgang Fortner had come into residence there in 1957. Other members of Fortner’s class at Freiburg included Peter Westergaard and Robert Langworthy. In the summers of 1958 and ‘59, Rose studied at Fontainebleau with Mademoiselle Nadia Boulanger. Rose was admitted to Boulez’s class in Basel, which met every two weeks through the winter semesters 1961 to ’62. It was here that Rose met Claude Lefebvre and Louis Andriessen. He spent those summers studying with  Stockhausen at Darmstadt.

Rose had met conductor Paul Mèfano through Lefebvre in the Boulez class in 1962. When Mèfano saw Rose’s score for his first viola concerto, commissioned by John Watts and the Composers Theatre in New York City, he immediately issued a commande (commission) for a second viola concerto, to be performed by his then newly-formed ensemble 2e2m. Rose’s musical compositions are often encoded with secret codes - significances that are known to the composer but may not be translated in listening All of his works are based on a certain fetishism—of numbers, names, lovers, friends, objects, games, works of art, quotations, and other systems of meaning. Works of art served to inspire both Ziggurat (a painting by Riccardo Licata) and ,même (the Grand Verre of Marcel Duchamp). Paintings, like poetry have been frequent points of departure for the composer. Ziggurat was a commission from flutist Pierre-Yves Artaud. A champion of Rose, Artaud premiered several of his works, including Parergon (1981) and Rhapsodies pour flute  (1983).

The works of the late 1980s and into the 1990s exhibit some of the most dense textures and complex structures found in the catalog. Rose continued to compose in his studio surrounded by objects and artworks spanning a long and rich creative life. Aside from a few trips to the U.S. for premieres and to visit family, he never returned to the states permanently. He passed away on April 12, 2016 at home in Paris.

Leslie Bassett (1923-2016) was an American composer and the Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Composition at the University of Michigan.  Early instrumental training in Fresno, Calif., led to service during World War II as a trombonist and arranger with the 13th Armored Division Band in France and Germany.  Following the war he attended Fresno State College and was Principal Trombone with the Fresno Symphony.  Bassett's long association with the University of Michigan began in 1947: his composition studies with Homer Keller and Ross Lee Finney were interrupted by a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Paris with Arthur Honegger at l'Ecole Normale de Musique and with Nadia Boulanger in her private studio.  In addition he studied at Michigan with Argentine-American composer Mario Davidovsky and with Catalan composer Roberto Gerhard.  Leslie Bassett was a recipient of the Prix de Rome (1961-3), the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Variations for Orchestra, Guggenheim Fellowships, the Naumburg Recording Award, and awards from the Koussevitsky Music Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

John Eaton (1935-2015) received international recognition for his works in the operatic genre, and as a composer and performer of electronic and microtonal music as well. Eaton's work has been performed extensively throughout the world. International performances include those in Italy (at the Venice Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentina, RAI, etc.), Germany (Hamburg Opera, NDR, Sud-West Funk, etc.), France, England, Spain, Portugal, Czechoslovakia (Prague Festival), Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Israel, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Latvia and Estonia.

In America, his work has been performed by the San Francisco Opera, Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera and Brooklyn Academy of Music, among others, and has been featured at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and Pepsico Summerfare Festivals. In addition, several works have been broadcast on Public Radio and Television, and, his opera, Myshkin, was seen throughout the U.S.A. and foreign countries by an estimated 15,000,000 people.

Brian Fennelly (1937-2015) studied at Yale with Mel Powell, Donald Martino, Allen Forte, Gunther Schuller and George Perle (M.Mus 1965, Ph.D. 1968). From 1968 to 1997 he was professor of Music in the Faculty of Arts and Science at New York University, and Professor Emeritus until his death in 2015. In addition to a Guggenheim fellowship, his awards include three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation, Fromm Foundation and Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest as well as from the Hudson Valley Philharmonic and Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra. In 1997 he received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Robert Ceely (1930-2015) of Brookline, beloved husband of Jonatha (Kropp) Ceely. Brother of John Paige of Oakland, CA., and the late Richard G. Ceely and his surviving wife, Shirley Ceely of Ann Arbor, MI. Also survived by several nieces and nephews. Robert earned an undergraduate degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and an MM degree from Mills College in Oakland, California. In 1955 he was a Tanglewood Fellow. Robert Ceely's music compositions include solo, chamber, and orchestral music, music for tape alone and tape with instruments. In 1963-64 he worked in the Electronic Music Studio in Milan as guest of the Italian Government. He received grants for his work from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ditson Fund, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Fromm Music Foundation, and others. In 1995 he received an outstanding alumni award from the New England Conservatory. He taught at the Naval School of Music, the Lawrenceville School, Robert College in Istanbul, Emmanuel College, and at the New England Conservatory where he established and directed the Electronic Music Studio and taught composition for over thirty years. To read more about Robert visit

Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy (1925-2013) Atlanta-born composer, commissioned by many contemporary dance companies and chamber groups, and worked with noted choreographers Takehiro Ueyama in New York, Bill Bayles at Bennington College, and Peggy Lawler at Cornell. Her music extends the usual sonorities of the instruments and has a strong rhythmic drive at its core.

Allan Blank (1925-2013) Emeritus Professor of Composition at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA; One of the most active composers in the chamber music sales area of ACA, with more than 200 compositions in print. Born in New York in 1925, his early musical training was on the violin. He attended the High School of Music & Art and later at the Juilliard School, Washington Square College (BA, 1948), University of Minnesota (MA,1950) and the University of Iowa. He was a violinist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1950-1952).

George Edwards (1943-2011), Composer, theorist, member of the faculty of Columbia University from 1976, becoming an Associate Professor of Music in 1986 and Vice Chairman of the Music Department in 1989.

Harley Gaber (1943-2011) Composer, visual artist, published well-known solo flute piece, Koku, with ACA in 1976. Studied with Horace Reisberg (1958-61) and Darius Milhaud (Aspen Music Festival (1961), Kenneth Gaburo; Electronic Music and Acoustics, and Lejaren Hiller. On the Board of Governors of ACA 1975-77.

Frederic Goossen (1927-2011) Jacob Frederic Goossen. a composer on the faculty of of University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where he remained as Professor of Composition and Director of Graduate Studies until retiring as Professor Emeritus.

Harold Seletsky (1927-2010) clarinetist, composer and bandleader of The West End Klezmorim. He composed music for films, commercials, opera, ballet, and has written jazz and Yiddish songs.

James Beale (1924-2010) Pianist, Composer, Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, student of Aaron Copland. Longtime faculty member at the University of Washington in Seattle.

John E. Ferritto (1937-2010) Conductor Laureate of the Springfield Symphony, married to violist Marcia Ferritto.

Arthur Weisberg (1931 – 17 January 2009), American bassoonist, conductor, composer and author.

Elias Tanenbaum (1924-2008) Composer of music for concert, jazz, theater, television, ballet and electronic and comptuer music.

Frank Lewin (1925-2008) Wrote music for film and television; his Requiem for Robert F. Kennedy (Mass for the Dead, in English) was first performed in 1969, a year after Kennedy's death.