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Edith Hemenway

b. 1926

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Edith Hemenway (née Fitz) was born in 1926 in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she studied piano as a child with the talented French wife of E. Power Biggs. In 1946, she married Augustus L. Hemenway and together they graduated from McGill University, where she majored in English Literature. She went on to take organ lessons with Harold Mueller, her first important musical influence, and immersed herself in the works especially of J.S. Bach. The organ was her principal instrument for several years until she discovered the joys of the art song. She became studio accompanist to David Laurent, a well- known bass baritone who was active at Brown University and where she developed her love of the art-song literature, shortly after beginning studies at the New England Conservatory of Music where she received a Master's degree in Vocal Accompaniment.

The Boston Children's Opera Company, since defunct, commissioned two operas, Benny and the Bear, performed in schools throughout New England, and The Twilight of Magic. The latter premiered at The Third Street Music School Settlement in New York, and was then performed by Opera on the Go as part of their travelling repertoire. Goldilocks, another opera for young children, was also commissioned and performed by this group. The librettos for these three operas were written by her daughter Sarah. A fourth opera, Doctor Know-It-All, conceived for an older audience and involving a larger cast, was performed by voice students at the University of Rhode Island. During this period, Ms. Hemenway also received two Composer-in-Residence grants.

While on a two-year stint in Savannah, Georgia, she became friendly with Nancy Braithwaite, and composed two works for her: Asian Figures and A Child's Garden. Other widely performed works by Ms. Hemenway have been the works song-cycle Wonderings on poems by Kenneth Patchen, and the popular Four Duets on Poems by Langston Hughes. Several other song-cycles and chamber works have been premiered by Nancy Braithwaite and her ensembles in The Netherlands including 'Questions of Travel' and 'Doors'.

Biography taken from

Question of Travel | 2007 | 18 mins

Clarinet, Cello, Piano

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