LESTER TRIMBLE, A COMPOSER, CRITIC AND TEACHER, DIES AT 63
By EDWIN McDOWELL
Published in The New York Times, January 2, 1987
Lester Trimble, a composer, critic and music teacher, died Wednesday afternoon [December 31, 1986] of heart failure. The 63-year-old composer, who had had a heart condition, collapsed shortly after noon in a restaurant on Broadway and was dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital.
Mr. Trimble composed symphonies, chamber works, operas and songs. He received honors and commissions from symphony orchestras, foundations and music societies.
Mr. Trimble's Symphony No. 3, ''The Tricentennial,'' commissioned for the City of Albany's 300th year, was given its premier performance last September by the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Last January he received an honorary doctorate from St. John's University at its commencement, for which he composed the processional music.
Among his best-known compositions are his Second Symphony (1968), which is based entirely on elements from a single lyrical theme, and a series of works he called ''panels,'' which are for diverse instrumental ensembles.
Trained at Carnegie Tech
Born in Bangor, Wis., on Aug. 29, 1923, Mr. Trimble's musical training was acquired largely at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. After service in the United States Army, he studied at Tanglewood, where he met Darius Milhaud, with whom he subsequently studied in Paris.
'A Richer Melodic Gift'
Settling in New York after returning from Paris in 1952, he was the music critic of The Nation, a music reviewer for The New York Herald-Tribune, managing editor of Musical America and executive director of the American Music Center.
He was professor of composition at the University of Maryland from 1963-68 and composer in residence with the New York Philharmonic from 1967-68, and he joined the Juilliard School faculty in 1971. In 1973 he became the first composer in residence at Wolf Trap Farm Park. He taught privately the past two years.
Writing of the composer's String Quartet No. 1 in 1955, a New York Times critic wrote, ''He has a richer melodic gift than most, a delight in complex and vigorous rhythms, the ability to invent new sonorities without striving for far-fetched effects and considerable emotional intensity.''
After a program at Town Hall in 1962 that covered a dozen years of Mr. Trimble's music, another Times critic wrote that all the works revealed some major virtues in common: ''a wide-ranging, seemingly inexhaustible melodic invention; intricate rhythmic patterns; an imaginative feeling for instrumental and vocal color.''
Mr. Trimble is survived by his wife, Constance Wilhelm, of Manhattan, and a brother, John R., of Massapequa.
Funeral services are private, and a memorial service will be announced.
© 1986 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded on the telephone on March 22,
1986. Portions were broadcast (along with recordings) on WNIB
later that year, and again in 1987, 1988, 1993, and 1998.
This transcription was made and posted on this
website in 2014.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.