Louis Horst


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(b Kansas City, 12 Jan. 1884; d New York, 23 Jan. 1964)

US pianist, composer, teacher, writer, and formative influence on American modern dance. He studied in San Francisco and Vienna and between 1915 and 1925 was musical director for St Denis. In 1926 he began collaborating with Graham, becoming musical director of her company and also composing several scores for her, including Primitive Mysteries (1931), Frontier (1935), and El Penitente (1940). Until he left the company in 1948 he not only helped form Graham's musical taste but was her closest adviser on artistic and choreographic issues. He also taught dance composition at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater in New York (1928–64) at the summer courses of Bennington College (1935–45), at Connecticut College Summer School (1948–63), and at Juilliard School (1958–63). In 1934 he founded the magazine Dance Observer which he edited until his death. He was author of Pre-Classic Dance Forms (1937) and Modern Dance Forms (1960). When in 1963 he was made doctor honoris causa of Wayne State University he was described as ‘the illustrious dean of American dance’.

Subjects: Dance.

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