Discipline: Music Composition

Isadore Freed

Discipline: Music Composition
MacDowell Fellowships: 1953, 1954

(March 26, 1900 – November 10, 1960)

Born in Brest-Litovsk, now Brest, Belarus, Freed's family emigrated to the United States when Freed was three years old and settled in Philadelphia, where his father owned a music store. Freed began playing piano at age seven, and began composing at age nine.

Freed studied at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor's degree at the age of 18. After graduation from Penn, Freed briefly held a teaching post at The Curtis Institute of Music. In 1924, he married Riva Hoffmann, a dancer in Isadora Duncan's troupe. Freed then went to Berlin where he briefly studied piano with Josef Weiss, and then to Paris where he studied composition with Ernest Bloch, Nadia Boulanger, Louis Vierne, and Vincent d'Indy. He also studied piano with Józef Hofmann and George Bayle, and organ with Rollo Maitland.

Freed returned to the United States in 1934, and shortly after he was employed by the composition department at Temple University until the mid-1940s, but sources disagree as to the dates of his appointment. In 1944, he was named head of the composition department at the Hartt School of Music (now known simply as The Hartt School), where he taught in various capacities until his death in 1960.

Freed was both a secular and sacred composer with deep interest in Jewish liturgical music as well as the promotion of contemporary secular music, being a co-founder of the Philadelphia Society for Contemporary Music and the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra and Composers' Laboratory, the latter of which was superseded by the WPA Music Project Composers' Forum Laboratory.


Van Zorn (formerly Kirby)

Isadore Freed worked in the Van Zorn (formerly Kirby) studio.

Constructed thanks to a bequest from Sarah L. Kirby, Kirby Studio was the last new building to be erected during Mrs. MacDowell’s leadership (1907-1951). The load-bearing masonry walls were laid by local mason Augustus Beaulieu atop a fieldstone foundation. A 1995 renovation preserved the brick fireplace with wooden mantel and…

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