Mason, Lowell

Mason, Lowell,

1792–1872, American composer and music educator, b. Medfield, Mass. While working as a bank clerk in Savannah, Ga., he helped compile an anthology that was published as The Boston Handel and Haydn Society's Collection of Church Music (1822). He went to Boston to direct the music in three churches, added music to the curriculum of Boston public schools, and, with George J. Webb, founded (1832) the Boston Academy of Music, where he introduced the principles of Pestalozzi in the teaching of music. He arranged many hymns and composed 1,210 of his own, including "Nearer, My God, to Thee," "My Faith Looks Up to Thee," and "From Greenland's Icy Mountains."

Lowell Mason had four sons, all active musically. The two eldest, Daniel Gregory and Lowell, formed a publishing company in New York City. Lowell, the third son, Henry, and Emmons Hamlin founded Mason & Hamlin, a firm that first made organs and later made pianos. The youngest son, William Mason, 1829–1908, b. Boston, was a distinguished concert pianist and teacher. He studied in Europe with Liszt and others. With Theodore Thomas he organized a chamber-music ensemble that did much to interest Americans in chamber music. He wrote Memories of a Musical Life (1901).

The son of Henry Mason, Daniel Gregory Mason, 1873–1953, b. Brookline, Mass., was important as a composer, writer, and lecturer. He studied with John K. Paine at Harvard and with D'Indy in Paris. In 1905 he joined the faculty of Columbia, where he was professor of music from 1929 to 1940. His writings include Music in My Time (1938) and The Quartets of Beethoven (1947). Among his compositions are the festival overture Chanticleer (1928); three symphonies, of which the third, known as Lincoln Symphony (1936), is outstanding; and chamber music.

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Mason, Lowell

(1792–1872) composer, educator; born in Medfield, Mass. He had been a church organist/choir director when he published a successful hymn collection in 1822, some of its melodies adopted from classical composers. In 1832 he cofounded the Boston Academy of Music, which gave instruction to adults and children. A pedagogue of great influence and importance for American music, he remained a prolific arranger and composer of hymns, his familiar tunes including "Nearer, My God, to Thee" and "From Greenland's Icy Mountains."
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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