Louise Lincoln Kerr (1892-1977)

An American composer, violist and patroness of the arts, was born April 24th, 1892 in Cleveland, Ohio, and died December 10th of 1977 in Cottonwood, AZ at her ranch.  She was the daughter of John C. Lincoln, who was an engineer and real estate tycoon.  Her mother taught her to play the piano at age six, violin at seven, and later learned to play viola.

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Louise Lincoln Kerr studied violin in Cleveland with Sol Marcosson, concertmaster and soloist with the early Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.  She attended Barnard College in New York in 1910 where she studied music composition with two prominent Columbia University professors: Cornelius Rubnor and Daniel Gregory Mason.  She left New York around 1913 in order to join the early Cleveland Symphony Orchestra under the direction of her teacher the famous Dutch violinist Christian Timmner.  She was one of the first two women to join that orchestra.

Kerr returned to New York to start her family and eventually came west to Arizona for the health of one of her daughters.  There she helped to found the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, the Arizona Cello Society, and the Phoenix chapter of the Monday Morning Musical.  Kerr composed over one hundred works including: symphonic tone poems, works for chamber orchestra, a violin concerto, numerous piano pieces, vocal pieces, string quartets, piano quartets and quintets, ballets and incidental music, and numerous duos for piano and other instruments.  The Phoenix Symphony as well as many other symphonies performed her tone poem, “Enchanted Mesa” written in 1948.  Kerr’s symphonic work “Arizona Profiles” was commissioned for the dedication ceremonies for the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in 1968.  Her Ballet, “Tableau Vivant,” was performed for the Dedication of the Waddell Sculptures entitled “Dance” at Phoenix Symphony Hall in 1974.  Louise Lincoln Kerr received an honorary Doctorate from ASU in 1977.  She won several awards in composition during her life.  She was inducted into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame October 21, 2004.

Louise Kerr donated her studio and manuscripts to Arizona State University in Tempe.  They are housed in the archives at Haydn Library.  The five piano and viola works included in this edition are the first works by Kerr ever to be published.  She is one of the finest Southwest composers in the United States.  Many of her works were inspired by Impressionism.  The Five Character Pieces for Viola and Piano were not originally grouped together, but written as separate pieces.  These viola solos are perfect for the solo artist as well as advanced students.  The “Habanera,” “Las Fatigas Del Querer,” and “Berceuse” were all inspired by Spanish and French Impressionists.  The “Lament” is more German in harmonic language.  The “Toccata” is a brilliant through composed fantasy. Each one is a gem that pleases both audiences and musicians alike.