My mom passed away Saturday morning. I’m posting about her because I think many younger musicians probably don’t know about her. This is her bio from the Groves Dictionary of Music.
“Ludmila Ulehla: b Flushing, NY, 20 May 1923). American composer, pianist and teacher of Czech descent. She began writing music at the age of five and later studied at the Manhattan School of Music (BMus 1946, MMus 1947), where her composition teacher was Vittorio Giannini. She became a professor at the Manhattan School in 1947 and was chairperson of the composition department there from 1970 to 1989; she received the President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service from the school in 1998. Additionally she taught at the Hoff-Barthelson Music School, Scarsdale, New York (1968–91), and acted as chairperson of the American Society of University Composers (1972–3) and programme chairperson for the National Association for American Composers and Conductors (1967–74). She has received awards and grants from ASCAP and Meet the Composer. Although Ulehla’s musical language is contemporary, the legacy of the classical canon as well as Slav influences have clearly contributed to its evolution. Her works are tonal, but are not organized by key; emphasis is given to the function of phrases rather than bar-lines, and the balance of contrast and unity helps to articulate formal structures. Her writings include Contemporary Harmony: Romanticism through the Twelve-Tone Row (New York, 1966/R).”
In addition to the Groves bio, Manhattan School of Music also includes this information:
“Ludmila Ulehla’s commissions include a work for the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players that was premiered in 1998, as well as such past works as Gargoyles for Hindell; Michelangelo for Orchestral Society of Westchester; Remembrances for Heifetz; and Unrolling a Chinese Scroll for Schefflien. Ms. Ulehla has been named Outstanding Educator in Who’s Who of American Women, named in the New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers, and has received ASCAP awards. Her chamber opera, Sybil of the American Revolution, was premiered in 1993; and in 1999, Undersea Fantasy for Orchestra was premiered by the Manhattan School of Music Philharmonia under the direction of David Gilbert. Her publications, printed by Advance Music, include the books Contemporary Harmony and Sonata for Improvisation for clarinet, soprano saxophone, and piano. Ludmila Ulehla has been honored for her valuable half-century devotion and contribution to Manhattan School of Music through the awarding of the School’s first Presidential Award for Distinguished Service in 1998.”
There will be a celebration of her life at the Manhattan School of Music this spring. We are also establishing a scholarship for composition students in her name.