Leslie Bassett

(b. 22 January 1923, Hanford, California – d. 4 February 2016, Oakwood, Georgia).

American composer of mostly orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and organ works that have been performed in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Prof. Bassett had training in cello, piano, trombone, and other instruments as a child and studied composition with Ross Lee Finney at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 1947–49 and 1952–56. He also studied composition with Arthur Honegger at the École Normale de Musique de Paris and analysis privately with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in 1950–51, both on a Fulbright Scholarship. He later had private studies in composition with Roberto Gerhard in Ann Arbor in 1960 and in electronic music with Mario Davidovsky in Ann Arbor in 1964.

Among his honours were the Prix de Rome (1961–63), the Pulitzer Prize for Music (1966, for Variations for Orchestra), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1973–74, 1980–81), and the Recording Award of the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation (1974, for Sextet [piano, strings]). He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters from 1976–2016 and earned grants from the Koussevitzky Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation.

He is also active in other positions. He worked as an arranger and trombonist in the 13th Armored Division during World War II.

He taught composition at the University of Michigan from 1952–91, where he served as chair of the department of composition from 1970–88 and as the Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor of Music from 1977–91, later emeritus. He was also a co-founder of its electronic music studio in 1964 and of its Contemporary Directions Performance Ensemble in 1966.

His primary publisher is Edition Peters.





Five Movements for Orchestra, large orchestra, 1961

Variations for Orchestra, 1963

Designs, Images and Textures, symphonic band, 1964

Colloquy, large orchestra, 1968

Forces, violin, cello, piano, orchestra, 1972

Echoes from an Invisible World, 1974–75

Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, 2 pianos, orchestra, 1976

Sounds, Shapes and Symbols, symphonic band, 1977

Concerto Grosso, French horn, 2 trumpets, bass trombone, tuba, symphonic band, 1982

Concerto Lirico, trombone, orchestra, 1983

Colors and Contours, symphonic band, 1984

Lullaby, symphonic band, 1985

From a Source Evolving, large orchestra, 1985

Fantasy, clarinet, symphonic band, 1986

Concerto for Orchestra, large orchestra, 1991

Thoughts that Sing, Breathe and Burn, large orchestra, 1995

Wood and Reed Transformed, bassoon, symphonic band, 1998

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, alto saxophone, orchestra, 1999


Quartet, 4 trombones, 1949

Sonata, French horn, piano, 1952

Trio, French horn, trumpet, trombone, 1953

Trio, clarinet, viola, piano, 1953

Quintet, string quartet, double bass, 1954

Sonata, trombone, piano, 1954

Sonata, viola, piano, 1956

Five Pieces, string quartet, 1957

Suite, trombone, 1957

Wind Quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1958

Sonata, violin, piano, 1959

Duets, 2 cellos, 1959

Quintet for Piano and String Quartet, piano, string quartet, 1962

String Quartet No. 3, 1962

Music for Cello and Piano, cello, piano, 1966

Nonet, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, piano, 1967

Music for Alto Saxophone and Piano, alto saxophone, piano, 1968

Sextet, piano, 2 violins, 2 violas, cello, 1971

Sounds Remembered, violin, piano, 1972

Music for Four Horns, 4 French horns, 1974

12 Duos, 2/4 trombones, 1974

Wind Music, flute, oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon, French horn, 1975

Soliloquies, clarinet, 1976

String Quartet No. 4, 1978

Sextet, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, cello, double bass, 1979

Trio, clarinet, violin, piano, 1980

Concerto da camera, trumpet, ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion), 1981

Temperaments, guitar, 1979–83

Duo concertante, alto saxophone, piano, 1984

Salute, 5 trumpets, 1985

Dialogues, oboe, piano, 1987

Duo-Inventions, 2 cellos, 1988

Brass Quintet, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1988

Illuminations, flute, piano, 1989

Metamorphoses, bassoon, 1990

Arias, clarinet, piano, 1992

Narratives, 4 guitars, 1993

Song and Dance, tuba, piano, 1993

Three Equale, 4 trombones, 1996

Trio-Inventions, 3 cellos, 1996

The Three Graces, 3 flutes, 2000

Song of the Aulos, oboe, 2000

Hammered Strings and Whistling Pipes, piano, organ, 2003

Sound Off!!!, 10 percussion, 2007


The Lamb (text by William Blake), mixed chorus, piano, 1952

Out of the Depths (text from Psalm 130), mixed chorus, organ, 1957

For City, Nation, World (cantata, text from the Service Book and Hymnal), tenor, children's chorus ad libitum, mixed chorus, congregational chorus, 4 trombones, organ, 1959

Moonrise (text by D. H. Lawrence), female chorus, piccolo, flute, alto flute, violin, 2 violas, cello, piano, 2 percussion, 1960

Remembrance (text by Hoover Rupert), mixed chorus, organ, 1960

Eclogue, Encomium and Evocation (text from the Song of Solomon), female chorus, harp, piano, 2 percussion, 1962

Follow Now that Bright Star (carol, text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1962

Prayers for Divine Service, male chorus, organ, 1965

Hear My Prayer, O Lord (text from Psalm 64), children's chorus/female chorus, organ, 1965

Notes in the Silence (text by Dag Hammarskjöld [translated by Leif Sjöberg, W. H. Auden]), mixed chorus, piano, 1966

Collect (text by the composer, after a church service), mixed chorus, fixed media (2 tracks), 1969

Moon Canticle (texts by John Milton, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sir Philip Sidney, Timothy Harley, Theocritus [English translation], William Shakespeare, Francis Thompson, the composer, the Sir Patrick Spens, Joaquin Miller, Sir Richard Burton, John Keats, magazine Life, other sources), soprano, amplified speaker, mixed chorus, cello, 1969

Celebration in Praise of Earth (texts from Psalm 24, Psalm 104, Psalm 115, Psalm 113, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Henry David Thoreau, Walter Savage Landor, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Wordsworth, the Qur'an [English translation], the composer), amplified speaker, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1970

Of Wind and Earth (texts by Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Cullen Bryant, St. Francis of Assisi [English translation]), mixed chorus, piano, 1973

A Ring of Emeralds (texts from an anonymous 14th-century source from Ireland, Gerald Griffin, Jonathan Swift, anonymous 9th-century source from Ireland [translated by George Sigerson], John Boyle O'Reilly), mixed chorus, piano, 1979

Sing to the Lord (text from Psalm 95), mixed chorus, organ, 1981

Lord, who hast formed me (text by George Herbert), mixed chorus, organ, 1981

Whoe'er She Be (text by Robert Crashaw), female chorus, piano, 1986

Almighty, Eternal (text by the composer), mixed chorus, organ, 1990

Maker of Our Being (text by the composer), mixed chorus, organ, 1993

Come, Thou long-expected JesusGlorious Things of Thee Are Spoken (hymns), mixed unison chorus, organ, 2003


Four Songs (texts by William Blake, George Herbert, Edwin Arlington Robinson), soprano, piano, 1953

To Music (texts by Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, William Billings), soprano/tenor, piano, 1962

The Jade Garden (texts by Ki no Tsurayuki, Kyohaku, Li Bai, anonymous source from Japan [English translations]), soprano, piano, 1973

Time and Beyond (texts by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rabindranath Tagore [English translation], Mark Van Doren), baritone, clarinet, cello, piano, 1973

Love Songs (texts from an anonymous source from Greece [English translation], Walter Savage Landor, Anne Bradstreet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Harrington), soprano, piano, 1975

Pierrot Songs (text by Albert Giraud [translated by Otto Erich Hartleben]), soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 1988

Two Stephens Songs (text by James Stephens), baritone, piano, 1996–98


Six Pieces, 1951

Mobile, 1961

Elaborations, 1966

Preludes, 1984

Configurations, 1987


Toccata, 1955

Voluntaries, 1958

Four Statements, 1964

Liturgies, 1980

Music for Organ, 2002, revised 2004


A Masque of Bells, 1980


Configurations. Richard Reber, piano (Kanzona: CKU 395) (cassette)

Narratives. Minneapolis Guitar Quartet (Albany Records: TROY 207)

Brass Quintet. Chestnut Brass Company (Albany Records: TROY 233)

Arias. Nathan Williams, clarinet; Audrey Andrist, piano (Albany Records: TROY 311)

Variations for Orchestra; Echoes from an Invisible World; Sextet (piano, strings). John Graham, viola; Gilbert Kalish, piano; Concord String Quartet; Jonathan Sternberg/Symphonisches Orchester Zürich; Sergiu Comissiona/Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (Composers Recordings, Inc.: CRI 677)

Dialogues. Harry Sargous, oboe; Robert Conway, piano (Crystal Records: CD326)

Suite. Ralph Sauer, trombone (Crystal Records: 5381)

Duo concertante. Clifford Leaman, alto saxophone; Derek Parsons, piano (Equilibrium: EQ 21)

Lullaby. H. Robert Reynolds/University of Michigan Symphonic Band (Equilibrium: EQ 45)

Sounds Remembered; Preludes; Elaborations; Configurations; Mobile; Six Pieces. Wendolyn Olson, violin; Gabriela Lena Frank, piano (Equilibrium: EQ 51)

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra. Clifford Leaman, alto saxophone; Kenneth Kiesler/University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra (Equilibrium: EQ 63)

Suite. Christian Lindberg, trombone (Fermat: FLPS 49)

Lullaby. Eugene Corporon/North Texas Wind Symphony (Klavier Music: 11089)

Colors and Contours. Eugene Corporon/North Texas Wind Symphony (Klavier Music: 11091)

Trio (clarinet, violin, piano). Verdehr Trio (Leonarda Productions: LE 326)

Lullaby. Robert Levy/Lawrence University Wind Ensemble (Mark: MCD-1302)

Thoughts that Sing, Breathe and Burn; Concerto Lirico; Concerto for Orchestra. H. Dennis Smith, trombone; Vít Micka/Moravská filharmonie Olomouc; Gerard Schwarz/Seattle Symphony Orchestra (MMC Recordings: 2090)

Music for Alto Saxophone and Piano. Donald Sinta, alto saxophone; Ellen Weckler, piano (New World Records: 80541-2)

A Ring of Emeralds. Emily Lowe Singers (Northeastern: NR 241)

Elaborations. Max Lifchitz, piano (North/South Recordings: N/S R 1014)

Duo concertante. Kenneth Fischer, alto saxophone; Richard Zimdars, piano (One World)

From a Source Evolving. Joel Eric Suben/Janáčkova filharmonie Ostrava (Opus One Music: 156)

Arias; Illuminations. Fred Ormand, flute; Ellen Weckler, piano; Bryan–Keys Duo (Opus One Music: 161)

Colors and Contours. University of Miami Wind Ensemble (Stevens: STR920002)