Branscombe – A Memory

Vitals: 0000 – 0000 – hp – str; c. 3′

Available from the Fleisher Collection, 152-s. Arranged by William Happich, the parts currently at Fleisher are handwritten in pen-and-ink, but I had it typeset for the Lansdowne recording, and plan to get those parts into the Fleisher collection if they can be useful for future performances.

A Memory is in 3/4, in ABA form with minor on the outside and wistful major in the middle. The harp part is partially derived from the original violin/piano score, but sounds good I think.

Here’s a performance by the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra (from the American Romantics series):


Here are my program notes from the performance:

The prolific Canadian-American composer, Gena Branscombe, was born in the small Prince Edward Island town of Picton, across Lake Ontario from Rochester, NY.  Her piano playing was exceptional even aged five, and completing high school early, she moved to Chicago to study.  Whitman College invited her to found their Music Department, so she left Chicago for two years in eastern Washington State. Marrying a lawyer (who supported her career to an exceptional degree for the time), the young couple spent a year in Berlin, where she studied with Engelbert Humperdinck (composer of Hansel & Gretel), before settling in New York City. He practiced law, and she composed, while founding and conducting a women’s choir, and they raised a family.  Branscombe composed operas, major works for orchestra, and well over a hundred and fifty songs.

She promoted compositions by women through several organizations: for one project, she prepared “over 30 programs of works by American women composers for distribution to conductors throughout the nation.”

This piece, A Memory, is an early work, originally published by the important Boston publishing house, Schmidt.  A salon piece for violin, it was dedicated to powerhouse American violin virtuoso Maud Powell (1867-1920).  In 1922, the Philadelphia composer William Happich arranged it for strings and harp, as a gift to Edwin Fleisher (1877-1959), founder of the Symphony Club, and whose orchestra music collection now forms the internationally important Fleisher Collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia of Philadelphia.

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