MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, 100 High St, Peterborough, NH 03458
Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Massachusetts
Ruth Crawford Seeger (July 3, 1901 – November 18, 1953), born Ruth Porter Crawford, was an American modernist composer active primarily during the 1920s and 1930s and an American folk music specialist from the late 1930s until her death. She was a prominent member of a group of American composers known as the "ultramoderns," and her music influenced later composers including Elliott Carter. Although unconfirmed, Ruth Crawford Seeger's writings, when considered along with remarks by Martin Bernstein (former chair of NYU music dept.) and Milton Babbitt, imply that Marion Bauer may have been a lesbian. Crawford and Bauer met at the MacDowell Colony in 1929, where Bauer quickly became a mentor and close friend to the much younger Crawford. Although Crawford preferred to characterize their relationship as one of “sisterly-motherly love,” she also acknowledged that at one time, their relationship had bordered becoming sexual, particularly on Bauer's part when she reserved a single hotel room for the two of them at the International Festival of Contemporary Music in Liège in September 1930, which made Crawford “uncomfortable.” Along with Crawford's perceptions of her relationship with Bauer, Martin Bernstein, a longtime friend of Bauer's and a former chair of the NYU music department, stated: “[A]s a female, [Bauer] had very little interest in men (emphasis in original)...At least if she had any romantic liaisons with men, we don't know about it.” Babbitt further substantiated Bernstein's thoughts during an interview about Bauer when he remarked, “And she was very much a...let's simply say unmarried. But she was an absolute dear.”
In 1932, Ruth Crawford married Charles Seeger. Their children, including Mike Seeger, Peggy Seeger, Barbara, Penny, and older stepson Pete Seeger, knew their mother as "Dio". Several of the children as musical artists themselves became central to the American folk revival, but they had little knowledge of their mother's former life as a beacon of American ultramodernism (Robin 2017).
She returned to her modernist roots in early 1952 with Suite for Wind Quintet (Tick 1997, 314–19), but in 1953 she died from intestinal cancer, in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She was buried at the Springfield Cemetery in Springfield, Massachusetts.
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