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John Kinyon

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John Kinyon

Biography

John Leroy Kinyon (23 May 1918, Elmira, N.Y. – 26 February 2002, Lake City, Fla.) was an American composer and conductor.

John's father, Wilbur Kinyon, was a violinist, and his mother, Elsie MacPherson Kinyon, was a pianist and vocalist. Before John was born, the Kinyons traveled throughout Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio with a piano accompanist and a reader. The troupe was known as the Kinyon Koncert Kompany.

At the end of the 1916-1917 tour, the Kinyons settled in Elmira, New York, where John was born. Mrs. Kinyon died in 1919, and his father married another musician, Inis Brooks. Although Mr. Kinyon had given up public performing after his first wife’s passing, the family home was soon full of music again, including the family orchestra, where it was expected that everyone, including John and his two younger brothers, would learn to sing, play, and read music.

During his junior high and senior high school years, John played in the school bands and orchestras, as well as in local swing bands. By the time he graduated from junior high, he was playing professionally as a trumpeter with several dance bands. By this time, he was writing arrangements for the bands with which he performed.

In 1936, Kinyon enrolled at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester as a music education major. There, he played with the Eastman Orchestra and numerous other performing ensembles. He also continued to perform professionally with dance bands, working his way through school.

After graduating from Eastman in 1940, Kinyon became band director at two West Virginia county schools, Oceana High School and Glen Rogers High School. The following year, he moved to Philippi, West Virginia, as high school band director.

He was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1942, first playing with Air Corps field bands and later (1944) graduating from the Army Music School at Fort Meyer, Virginia.

After leaving military service, Kinyon settled in Gorham, New York, where he taught instrumental music from 1946 to 1951. At Gorham, he began to write the arrangements and original pieces for which he has since gained worldwide acclaim.

In 1951, he moved to Pittsford, New York, where he spent ten years as director of the music department. He continued to write music for students and bands in the early years of their development. Since there were so few composers writing music at this level, he adopted several more pseudonyms, including Leroy Jackson, Charles Barrett, and Robert Powers.

In 1961, Kinyon became educational director of Warner Brothers Music in New York City, creating a catalog of choral and instrumental training music. He then left commercial music and the publishing field, and in 1968-1969 he served as an instrumental music teacher at Northport, New York. In 1969, he joined the faculty at the University of Miami, designing and supervising the program in instrumental music education. He retired from that position in 1982.

In 1968, Kinyon wrote a series of pieces for the Alfred Music Company and also served as a consultant at the company. The “mini-score” concept was soon developed, and he began to use the pseudonyms James MacBeth, Cora Gable, Clark Tyler, and Dale Lauder. Meanwhile, he pursued an active schedule of guest conducting.

Kinyon is regarded as the leading composer and arranger of music for beginning and intermediate bands. He composed with intense concentration and credited much of his creative ability to his earlier days in jazz bands, where improvisation was a necessity.

He received an honorary doctorate in 1982 and was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from Ithaca College in 1992. He was elected to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1960, to the American Bandmasters Association in 1988, and has held memberships in numerous other professional organizations.


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