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Kettering, Eunice Lea, 1906 - 2000



  • Existence: April 4, 1906 - March 9, 2000


Born 4 April 1906 in Savannah, Ohio, Eunice Lea Kettering began composing music at age 6. As a composer and educator, Kettering earned fame and appreciation for creating compositions that were accessible to the public while many composers were experimenting with serialism. Her works range in performance requirements from very easy to moderately difficult and are mostly in the choral and solo instrumental genres.

Kettering's formal musical education began at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, from which she received the degree of Bachelor of Music in 1929. She then relocated to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to become professor of piano, organ and theory at Madison College. While there, she sought further instruction in composition in the studios of Dr. Felix Labunski, Dr. Normand Lockwood and Edwin J. Stringham, and studied overseas in Mondsee, Austria, with Béla Bartok during the summer of 1931.

After three years at Madison College, Kettering enrolled in the graduate program at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary. She received her Master’s Degree in 1933 and was accepted soon after as lecturer. She then became composer-in-residence and professor of music literature at Ashland College in Ashland, Ohio. Within a year after her assignment there, she became head of the music department. She also served as the [Ohio] State Chairman of American Music – a prestigious position she held for 8 years.

During her tenure at Ashland College, Kettering premiered and performed many of her early works, saw the publication of others, and received several commissions for major compositions, including Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight for Hiram College, Festive Suite for the Ohio Music Club, and Angel on a Holiday, Any Man Will Do and Brimstone for Ashland College. While at Ashland, she also was given two awards and an honor: first prize for a choral-orchestral composition in 1943 by the National Federation of Music Clubs for her composition Johnny Appleseed; a citation of merit from Ashland College in 1957, and the renaming of the local music club to the Eunice Kettering Music Club.

Kettering decided to pursue composing as a profession in 1958, left Ashland and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the following year. As a resident composer in Albuquerque, she composed the bulk of her compositional output, most for choral groups and solo instruments. Several of her works were also recorded (such as John James Audubon with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and The Lamb with the Capital University Choir), and given well publicized premières with orchestras (Johnny Appleseed with the CBS Orchestra, Affirmation with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Prelude, Toccata and Fugue with the Roswell Symphony Orchestra).

Kettering continued to be recognized and honored after relocating to Albuquerque: first prize and citation from the Annual Institute for Education by Radio and Television in 1961; a special merit award in 1968; a merit award for outstanding service to other composers given in 1970; a first-place, chapter-level music award by the National League of Pen Women, Southwest Regional Conference in 1971; and in 1972 three first-prize, national-level awards by the National League of American Pen Women for her choral composition I Hear America Singing, her piano composition Clouds, Rain, Wind Suite; and her vocal art-song The Court Jester.

Kettering held memberships in several organizations, including the National Association of American Composers and Conductors, Pi Kappa Lambda, and National Federation of Music Clubs. She received a Fellow Certificate with the American Guild of Organists (the highest certification given by that organization) and served a residency at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Kettering died March 9, 2000.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

American Composers Collection

Identifier: MS-0078
Scope and Contents

The American Composers Collection includes material related to over 150 composers, including manuscript music scores, programs, correspondence, news clippings, and other items. Material varies with composer, from a single item to several folders. The collection was amassed from various donations to the University of Missouri-Kansas City before being given to the Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections. Provenance is noted when known.

Dates: 1813 - 2006

Eunice L. Kettering, undated

Scope and Contents

See also: MS18-Eunice Kettering Collection

Dates: undated

Eunice Lea Kettering Collection

Identifier: MS-0018
Scope and Contents The Eunice Lea Kettering Collection was donated to the University of Missouri-Kansas City by Eunice Lea Kettering. Housed in LaBudde Special Collections at the Miller Nichols Library, the collection is divided into four series: Manuscript Scores (Photocopy), Published Scores, Documents, and Sound Recordings. The first two series are classified into genre, and each work is listed alphabetically. There are over 80 manuscript score photocopies spanning the majority of Kettering’s professional...
Dates: 1935 - 1975

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