Gleason, Frederick Grant

1848-1903

Frederick Grant Gleason was born at Middletown, Conn. His father and mother were both excellent amateur musicians. Gleason's father intended him for the ministry, and discouraged his desire for a musical life, but this opposition was withdrawn, when at the age of sixteen, he composed an oratorio, The Captivity, and a Christmas Oratorio, which showed such decided talent, considering his lack of theoretical instruction, that he was placed under Dudley Buck at Hartford. In 1869 he went to Leipsic, and at the Conservatory there studied piano under Moscheles, Papperitz and Plaidy; harmony under Dr. Paul and Richter, and composition under Lobe. The next year he went to Berlin, studying under Weitzmann, Haupt, Raif, and Loeschhorn. In 1872 he returned to the United States for a visit, conducting a sacred cantata of his own at Hartford. The next period of study was in London, under Oscar Beringer. He afterward returned to Berlin for the study of the piano, organ and theory, and prepared there his Motet Collection. Upon his return to America, in 1875, he became organist of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church ~t Hartford, later going to the First Congregational Church of New Britain. In 1877 he removed to Chicago, where he became a member of the faculty of the Hershey School of Music, teaching organ, piano, composition and orchestration. He also became a Fellow of the American College of Musicians, of which he was elected an examiner and director. For about five years he was musical editor of the Chicago Tribune. He became a member of the New York Manuscript Society soon after its organization, and was the first president of the Manuscript Society of Chicago, from 1896 to 1898, and president of the American Patriotic Musical League in 1897. Later he was for a second period president of the Chicago Manuscript Society, being in this office at the time of his death. He was awarded a gold medal of honor by the Associatione dei Benementi Italiana of Palermo, Sicily, "for distinguished services in the cause of art." He died in Chicago in 1903. His principal compositions are Otho Visconti, an opera; Montezuma, an opera of which he also wrote the libretto and parts of which were given by Theodore Thomas; and the cantatas, God Our Deliverer, Praise Song to Harmony, and The Culprit Fay, all three for solos, chorus and orchestra. In 1889 the Auditorium Festival Ode, a symphonic cantata, was produced at the dedication of the Chicago Auditorium. The Processional of the Holy Grail; Edris, a symphonic poem; and The Song of Life were also given by the Thomas Orchestra. As Thomas was not inclined to favor the American composer, the mere fact that so many of Gleason's works were performed by the Chicago Orchestra is the best of evidence that they are of a high order. His vocal and instrumental music includes three trios for piano, violin and violoncello; a concerto in G minor for piano and orchestra; a Triumphal overture for organ; piano-pieces, partsongs and sacred choruses.