John J. Becker

Becker studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory and also received a doctorate in composition from Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in 1923. The 'militant crusader' of the American Five, a group consisting of Ives, Ruggles, Cowell and Riegger, as well as Becker, he worked to establish a musical tradition based upon the American experience rather than that of Europe. He had a long career as an administrator and teacher in addition to his compositional activities. His early works were influenced by German Romanticism and to some extent French Impressionism. He adopted a highly dissonant style in the late '20s, resulting in the Symphonia brevis (1929). His most important works were large scale productions that included dance, mime, color, stage design and music to form 'mixed-media' theatre. An example of this type of work is his Stagework no. 3 : A Marriage with Space (1935), a work he considered to be his masterpiece. Becker frequently used polytonal forms and dissonant atonal counterpoint. During an era when neo-classicism and the return to the use of folk music was popular in compositional circles, Becker strove to "add new resources, evolve new techniques, develop new sound patterns."

Lynn Vought, All Music Guide

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1933 The Abongo "A Primitive Dance" 4.00 stars CD
New Jersey percussion Ensemble cond. Raymond DesRoches