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Sowerby, Leo, 1895-1968



  • Existence: 1895-1968

Leo Sowerby (born May 1, 1895, Grand Rapids, MI, died July 7, 1968, Port Clinton, OH was an American composer and church musician. His family moved to Chicago in 1909 where he studied piano and organ. During World War I he served in the army and was a bandmaster. In 1918 he received a Masters from the American Conservatory of Chicago where he would later teach (1925-1962). He was also organist and choirmaster at the Episcopal Cathedral of St James (1927-1962) and was the founding director of the College of Church Musicians at the National Cathedral, Washington D.C. (1962-1968).

The first mark of recognition for Sowerby as a composer came in 1913 when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played his Violin Concerto. Many of his works, particularly the numerous organ pieces, are based on the passacaglia, chaconne, canon, or fugue. In 1946 Sowerby received a Pulitzer Prize for his cantata Canticle of the Sun.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

William Ferris music manuscripts and papers

Identifier: Ferris
Abstract Consists of holograph, manuscript, and published scores of nearly all of the composer's musical compositions written between 1952 and 2000 as well as sketches and notebooks related to specific works.
Dates: 1952-2000

Leo Sowerby papers

Identifier: Sowerby
Abstract Chiefly music manuscripts of original compositions by the American composer and church musician Leo Sowerby (1895-1968).
Dates: 1911 - 1995; Other: Majority of material found within 1911 - 1967; Other: Date acquired: 07/11/1994