Roger Sessions (1896-1985)

One of America's foremost composers.  A pupil of Ernest Bloch, his early works tended toward the Romantic.  He soon turned, however, toward a very complex counterpoint that contained much dissonance.  He eventually came under the influence of Schoenberg and wrote music that approached the twelve-tone system and its atonal results, but he never adopted this style of composition.  Sessions defies any label such as neoromantic, neoclassic, or expressionistic, though he took part in each of these to some degree.  He was not a prolific composer and made his greatest contribution in orchestral, chamber, and piano music.  Among the symphonies, the "First Symphony" represents his early neoclassic style.  Other important works are the "Piano Sonata No. 2", the "Second Sting Quartet", and "The Black Maskers", an early work for orchestra, written as incidental music to a play.

His cantata, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", was written between 1967 and 1970.  He wrote eight symphonies, seven of which premiered after 1947.