Discipline: Music Composition

Gordon Binkerd

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Urbana, IL
MacDowell fellowships: 1954, 1955, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970
Gordon Ware Binkerd (1916-2003) was an American classical music composer and pianist. His talent was first discovered at age 15 when he was chosen as one of the five best pianists in the country at a national competition in Gregory, South Dakota. He attended Dakota Wesley College in Mitchell, SD. In 1940, Binkerd began advanced study at the Eastman School of Music, but his composer talent began to ripen when he entered Harvard College in 1946. As a candidate for the Ph.D. in musicology, his absorption of music of the past provided a historical base of knowledge that framed his compositional perspective. At Harvard, his skills were refined as a student of Walter Piston and as teaching assistant to Irving Fine. Binkerd left Harvard in 1949 to become a theorist and composer at the University of Illinois. Each summer he participated in retreats in New Hampshire and New York in order to compose. In the mid 1960's, Binkerd entered into a contract for the publication of all his music with the New York publishing House, Boosey & Hawkes. By that time, he had already written three symphonies; a piano sonata; two string quartets; a growing list of sonatas for wind and string instruments; and a large quantity of chamber, choral, and vocal music, which his publisher began to release in 1965. Six years later, he retired from academics to fully devote himself to writing music. During the next 25 years he wrote until the onset of Alzheimer's disease. As a composer Binkers was the first professor at the University of Illinois to become a member of its Center for Advanced Study in the year 1959. He then became a Guggenheim Fellow. In 1964, he received the National Institute of Arts and Letters award. He received many commissions from such places as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the University of Illinois, South Dakota State University, the Fromm Music Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. In 1987, Dakota Wesleyan University honored Binkerd as its Alumnus of the Year, and in 1996 awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts.


New Jersey

Gordon Binkerd worked in the New Jersey studio.

The yellow clapboard New Jersey Studio, located on a grassy, sloping site, was funded by the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs and built as an exact replica of Monday Music Studio (1913). The studio’s porch rests on fieldstone piers that increase in height as the ground slopes to the west. Like Monday Music Studio, New Jersey…

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