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Constant Vauclain

Andre Constant Vauclain was born 1908 in Wynnewood (Pennsylvania, USA) into a dynasty of railway workers, salesmen and engineers. For example Samuel M. Vauclain (1856-1940), the inventor of the historically important compound steam locomotive – the „Vauclain compound“ -, belongs to the family tree and also Constant Vauclains father and uncle were major shareholders at Baldwin Locomotive. Therefore the family wanted Constant Vauclain to start a business career, and so he studied at the Wharton School of the Pennsylvania University.


But nevertheless music must have been a strong part and force in Constant Vauclains life before, because in his senior year he traveled to Italy to study composition with Rosario Scalero, head of the theory and composition department at the Curtis Institute of Music and one of the most famous composition teachers at that time, who also taught Marc Blitzstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber, Lukas Foss or Ned Rorem. At the end of the year, Rosario Scalero came back to Curtis, Constant Vauclain followed him and in 1939 graduated with a degree in composition.


He immediately became a lecturer at the Curtis Institute, earned a doctorate in 1947 and remained until 1953. From 1948 Constant Vauclain was also music professor at the University of Pennsylvania until 1979. The last years he taught at Haverford College until his retirement in 1983.


Beside his work as a teacher Constant Vauclain composed „contemporary music without regard to trends“ (as an obituary in a local newspaper stated in 2003). He composed orchestral and chamber music, many of these compositions were performed and published. The Philadelphia Orchestra brought two of his symphonies on stage for example. Constant Vauclain also developed a music theory called „syntonality“ and he was the founder of the theory program of the now Esther Boyer College of Music at Temple University.


Constant Vauclain died on 5 November 2003 in Norristown, near Philadelphia.



The Violin concerto by Constant Vauclain was composed in 1951. A piano reduction was sent to violinist Joseph Szigeti at that time, but as far as I know never performed by him (or anyone else). So the manuscript of this piano reduction is now part of the Szigeti Collection at the library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was the basis for publication. The family of Constant Vauclain could not locate an orchestral score, maybe such a full score never existed. So this piano reduction seems to be the only existing document about the Violin concerto by Constant Vauclain.


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