George Frederick Bristow (December 19,
1825 – December 13, 1898) was an American composer. He advocated
American classical music, rather than favoring European pieces. He
was famously involved in a related controversy involving William
Henry Fry and the New York Philharmonic Society.
Bristow was born into a musical family in Brooklyn, New York. His
father, William, a well-respected conductor, pianist, and
clarinetist, gave his son lessons in piano, harmony, counterpoint,
orchestration and violin. George joined the first violin section of
the New York Philharmonic Society Orchestra in 1843 at the age of
seventeen, and remained there until 1879. The New York
Philharmonic's records indicate that he was concertmaster between
1850 and 1853.
In the 1850s, Bristow became
conductor of two choral organizations, the New York Harmonic Society
and the Mendelssohn Union (and later several church choirs). In
1854, he began his long career as a music educator in the public
schools of New York.
Throughout his life, Bristow was a
champion of American music and a nationalist in his choice of texts.
The amount and quality of his choral music, although mostly ignored
by Grove's, makes Bristow a historically important choral composer.
Bristow's compositional output is divided in three periods: his
early years, during which most of the compositions are instrumental;
the middle period beginning in 1852, during which he wrote more than
forty works, several of them lengthy and imposing; and the late
period, beginning in 1879 with Bristow's resignation from the New
York Philharmonic. Of the 135 compositions listed in Rogers’
dissertation on Bristow's music, one-third are choral or vocal.
Seven of his choral works are choral/orchestral pieces, and
twenty-seven compositions are smaller pieces, most of which were
composed for church choirs that he led. Both the short sacred works
and the large choral/orchestral compositions are evenly divided
between the middle and late periods.
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The Jullien Symphony, No. 2, op. 24 of 1854
Symphony in F-sharp minor, op. 26 of 1856
The Arcadian Symphony No. 4, the "Pioneer", op. 49 of 1872
The Niagara Symphony. op. 62, of 1893 was never completed
Therefore, I am calling this symphony No. 3, because of the date
of completion and it opus number.
Orchestra: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (London) Karl