Emma Lou Diemer
Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927) is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. She studied piano
from an early age, wrote little piano pieces as a child, and began to play
the organ in church at age 13 (First Christian Church in Warrensburg, MO
where the family had moved: her father having become president of Central
MO State College). She determined to be a composer about that time with a
strong interest also in piano, taking lessons at the K.C. Conservatory
(with Wiktor Labunski).
After high school she elected to major in composition in a school of music
rather than attend a liberal arts college. Her degrees in composition are
from the Yale School of Music (BM,1949; MM, 1950) and from the Eastman
School of Music (Ph.D.,1960), and she studied composition further in
Brussels on a Fulbright Scholarship (1952-53) and at the Berkshire Music
Center (summers of 1954, 1955).
From 1954-57 she taught in several schools in the Kansas City area (Park
College, William Jewell College, the K.C. Conservatory of Music) and was
organist in area churches. After receiving the doctorate from Eastman she
spent two years (1959-61) as composer-in-residence in the Arlington, VA
schools under the Ford Foundation Young Composers Project. She wrote many
choral and instrumental works while in Arlington, most of which were
published, including the Three Madrigals.
From 1962-65 she was a consultant for the Contemporary Music Project of the
Music Educators National Conference, taught in the Arlington schools, and
became (in 1962) organist at Reformation Lutheran Church in Washington, DC.
In 1965 she joined the faculty of the University of Maryland as an
assistant professor of theory and composition. In 1971 she was appointed to
a similar position at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and
subsequently became a full professor and, since 1991, professor emeritus.
Her present position as organist is at the First Presbyterian Church in
She was instrumental in founding the electronic/computer music center at
UCSB and helped to develop the Ph.D./DMA degrees in composition as well as
other aspects of the curriculum.
Through the years she has written many works of varying levels of
difficulty from hymns and songs to concertos and symphonies. Awards for her
compositions include a Louisville Student Award (for a suite for
orchestra), the Arthur Benjamin Award for "Quiet Music" from Eastman (for
the second movement of her 2nd symphony/dissertation), an ASCAP award
received annually since 1962 for performances and publications, a Kennedy
Center Friedheim Award in Orchestral Music for her 1991 piano concerto, and
others. She was composer-in-residence with the Santa Barbara Symphony from
1990-92, and the 1995 Composer of the Year of the American Guild of
Her music has been published by Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, Oxford
University Press, Arsis Press, Plymouth Music Company, Santa Barbara Music
Publishing, Seesaw Music Corporation, and others. Some of her chamber and
orchestral music has been recorded on Crest, North/South Consonance,
Contemporary Record Society, Master Musicians Recordings (her piano
concerto, released in 1998), Leonarda, and others.
Emma Lou Diemer has 10 titles published with Santa Barbara.
Click on any title below to view the complete score and hear a recording if available.