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VIV 904


Sonata for Violin and Piano
By Irene Britton Smith • Edited by Helen Walker-Hill

Music by African-American Women Series

This accessible 1947 three-movement sonata is characterized by serenely flowing lyricism alternating with lively, mischievous counterpoint. Neoclassical in style, the two instruments intertwine in a deft duet that is as satisfying to hear as to perform.
VIV 904, 32 Pages, $16.95


“the finest contribution comes from Irene Britton Smith, a former student of Vittorio Giannini and Irving Fine: her 1946 Sonata for violin and piano is an outgoing and elegantly designed work in the American neoclassical tradition and deserves further listening.”


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A Brief Bio of the Composer

Irene Britton Smith was born in 1907 in Chicago, Illinois. She studied composition with Stella Roberts and Leo Sowerby at the American Conservatory, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in 1943. Meanwhile, she taught in Chicago’s elementary schools for more than forty years, specializing in the Phonovisual approach to teaching reading. In 1946-47 while on sabbatical leave from her teaching position, she did graduate work in composition at The Juilliard School of Music with Vittorio Giannini, before completing her Master of Music degree at DePaul University under Leon Stein. During summers she also worked with Irving Fine at the Berkshire Music Center (1950), with Wayne Barlow at the Eastman School of Music, and with Nadia Boulanger at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France (1958).

Her works include a Sinfonietta in three movements for orchestra (1956), Fairest Lord Jesus, an anthem for women’s voices published by G. Schirmer in 1945, an arrangement of the spiritual Let Us Break Bread Together for baritone or mezzosoprano and piano (1948), and several other choral works, chamber and solo instrumental works. Dream Cycle, a setting of four poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1947) has been performed at the Chicago Public Library by soprano JoAnne Pickens. The Sonata for violin and piano was completed in New York City in 1947 while studying with Vittorio Giannini at The Juilliard School. It was premiered at the Denver Public Library in February 1990 by violinist Gregory Walker and pianist Helen Walker-Hill, and is performed by them on the 1995 CD, Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women, produced by Leonarda Records.


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