Ruth Crawford Seeger

From Wind Repertory Project
Ruth Crawford-Seeger


Ruth Crawford Seeger (3 July 1901, East Liverpool, Ohio – 18 November 1953, Chevy Chase, Md.) was an American composer and pianist.

Throughout her childhood, the Crawfords moved around a lot, from Ohio to Missouri to Indiana. In 1912, the Crawford’s moved to Florida, where Ruth’s father passed away two years later. As well as music, Crawford was also interested in poetry, and at a young age she began writing her own poems.

At age six, Crawford began learning the piano, and further took up lessons with Bertha Foster, who had founded the School of Musical Art in Jacksonville, Florida. After advancing her studies in piano performance, Crawford then began lessons with Madame Valborg Collett, who was regarded as the most prestigious teacher at the school. After graduating, Crawford began pursuing a career as a concert pianist, and also a piano teacher at the arts school.

By 1921, Crawford had enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where she began studying for a teaching certificate, but ended up staying much longer to pursue a career in composition. Whilst in Chicago, Crawford was able to visit concert halls and see recitals from young up and coming musicians, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff and Arthur Rubinstein. Whilst at the conservatory (where she studied for a bachelor’s and a masters degrees), Crawford received tutelage from Adolf Weidig. After graduating from the conservatory, Crawford was able to work and travel around America, winning a range of scholarships. In 1930, she was the first woman to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship, which took her to Paris and Berlin. After visiting Paris, Crawford married musicologist Charles Seeger in 1932.

Often described as a ‘modernist’ composer, Crawford’s style is interesting and unique. It is, however, often noted that Crawford’s style often reflects that of the musical style of Alexander Scriabin. Crawford’s development of dissonance and irregular rhythms are resonant in many of her works, with Suite for Wind Quintet, being no different. Crawford’s style is reflective of serialism, with Arnold Schoenberg begin a significant influence.

Works for Winds