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John Laurence Seymour (18 January 1893 in Los Angeles – 1 February 1986 in San Francisco) was an American composer and playwright. He studied composition with Ildebrando Pizzetti and Felice Boghen in Italy between 1923 and 1928. He also studied with Vincent d’Indy in France. From 1928 to 1936 he served on the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley where he as lectured mostly on opera and drama. In 1940 he earned a PhD in English literature from Berkeley; his dissertation, Drama and Libretto, consisted of four adaptations of two Shakespeare plays. In 1941 he became chairman of the theatre department of Sacramento Junior College where he stayed for more than two decades. From 1969–1985 he was a librarian at Southern Utah College in Cedar City, Utah.

As a composer Seymour is best known for his operas which have been praised for their complex orchestral textures and italianate lyricism. His fifth opera, In the Pasha’s Garden, received the Bispham Memorial Medal Award. It was first performed on January 24, 1935 at the Metropolitan Opera with Lawrence Tibbett in the title role. In 1977 his tenth opera, Ollanta, el Jefe Kolla, won prizes in the cultural division of the Bolivarian Games in La Paz. Fluent in multiple languages, Seymour made translations from Russian and French drama and wrote a number of plays.

Selected works

Stage

  • The Bachelor Belles, Operetta in 3 Acts, Op.13 (1935); libretto by Rose A. Seymour
  • In the Pasha's Garden, Opera in 1 Act, Op.17 (1934); libretto by Henry Chester Tracy; based on the book by Harrison Griswold Dwight
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Comic Operetta in 2 Acts, Op.35 (1937); libretto by Henry Chester Tracy after the play by William Shakespeare
  • Golden Days, Comic Operetta in 2 Acts, Op.40 (1936); libretto by Ralph Birchard
  • Hollywood Madness, Comic Opera in 3 Acts, Op.41 (1936); libretto by Ralph Birchard
  • Ming Toy, Musical Comedy in Prologue and 2 Acts (1949); book by Leslie H. Carter; lyrics and music by John Laurence Seymour
  • Ramona, Opera in 5 Acts and Epilogue; libretto by Henry Chester Tracy; based on the romance by Helen Hunt Jackson

Chamber music

  • Elegiac Tone Poem No.2 in F Minor for Viola and Piano (1946)
  • From the Far-off Hills for Cello and Piano, Op.47 No.1 (1947)
  • A Song on the Road for Cello and Piano, Op.47 No.2 (1947)

Vocal

  • Shilric's Song for Low Voice and Piano, Op.23 No.1 (1936); words from Ossian by James Macpherson
  • A Dirge for Ryno for Low Voice and Piano, Op.23 No.3 (1936); words from Ossian by James Macpherson
  • Behold, I Stand at the Door for Low Voice and Piano (1945); words by Alma Strettell

Sources

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