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A philosophical composer, Ernst Bacon (1898–1990) combined his intellectual interest in textual content with a sensitive lyricism and an affinity for simple song.
The Chicago-born Ernst Bacon (1898–1990) boasts a staggering compositional output of more than 250 songs, as well as numerous symphonies, operas and other musical theater works, piano concertos, and pieces of chamber music. Bacon studied at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and the University of California. Throughout his life, he enjoyed a multifaceted musical career, not only as a composer but also as an accomplished conductor and pianist — and later as a writer with his books Words on Music and Notes on the Piano. Largely self-taught in composition, Bacon sought to resist what he viewed as the cynicism of the post-war European avant-garde and turned instead to American themes, and the language of American poetry, for inspiration and musical energy. His songs are particularly masterful in their naturalistic setting of the English language.