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Ruth Shaw Wylie

1916 - 1989

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Ruth Shaw Wylie was a US-born composer and music educator. Wylie was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where she received her undergraduate degree and a master's degree in music composition at Wayne State University (WSU). In 1939 she entered the doctoral program in music composition at the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. She was awarded the PhD in 1943 and took a position teaching at the University of Missouri where she stayed until 1949. In the summer of 1947 she studied with Arthur Honegger, Samuel Barber, and Aaron Copland at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. She returned to Detroit to teach at WSU where she remained for twenty years, retiring from teaching as Professor Emerita in 1969. She moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Estes Park, Colorado in 1973, and continued composing.

At WSU Wylie taught music theory and composition and served as head of composition; during one year she served as interim chair of the music department. In the early 1960s she founded, directed, and performed with the WSU Improvisation Chamber Ensemble; she continued to count her work with group improvisation as among her most significant contributions. She received a number of awards, including "Friends of Harvey Gaul" and the ASCAP Standard Award. Wylie was a resident fellow at the Huntington Hartford Foundation (1953–54) and at the MacDowell Colony (1954 and 1956). She composed The Long Look Home for the Michigan Chamber Orchestra for a Bicentennial Celebration commission from the Michigan Council for the Arts.

Wylie composed about 60 titles. Her earlier works—from the 1940s into the 1960s—include sonatas, symphonies, string quartets, and didactic pieces for piano; in these works she develops her own interpretation of American neoclassicism.

Her later works, almost entirely instrumental, are noticeably freer in their construction in accordance with avant-garde ideas of the 1960s and 1970s. Wylie explained in 1985, “I try to study and evaluate all the new musical trends as they arise—twelve-tone, electronic, aleatory, computer, tonal modifications, microtones—whatever. Then I may use, at least to a limited extent, what in all of these trends I find to be aesthetically sound and creatively honest.”

Biography taken from Wikipedia.

Clarinet Concertino op. 24 no. 1 | 1967

Clarinet and Orchestra

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Five Occurrences op. 27 | 1971

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Music for Three Sisters | 1981

Flute, Clarinet, Piano

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Song and Dance op. 9 | 1947

Clarinet And Piano

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Wistful Piece | 1953 | 2.5 mins

Violin and Piano

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