Arthur Bird 1856-1923

arthur-birdArthur Bird was born July 23, 1856, at Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass.

His father, Horace Bird, was a well-known musician in the neighborhood of Boston, where his singing schools were very popular.

Bird received his education at the public schools, graduating at the high school in Watertown when he was seventeen years old. During his childhood and youth he displayed a great fondness for music, and early became a proficient player on the piano and organ, and incidentally upon the violin. He first appeared in public as church organist, when he was fifteen years old and he played at several churches in the vicinity of Boston. As a youth, his talent showed itself not so much in his ability as a performer, as in his marked talent for improvisation.

After studying two year, 1875 and 1876, in Berlin with Ed. Rohde, Prof. Haupt, and Prof. Loeschhorn, he returned to Boston and accepted the position of organist and choir master at the Kirk, Halifax, N. S. At the same time he was appointed head instructor of the piano in the Young Ladies’ Seminary at Mount St. Vincent in the latter city.

The summers of 1885 and 1886 he spent professionally and socially with Franz Liszt in Weimar, not only at the class lessons but also at the very exclusive rubber at whist, which invariably followed each lesson. Liszt was particularly interested in his compositions, and had them often played at the private soirees given at his home during the summer months.

In 1886, Bird gave a public concert of his compositions, symphony, overture and suite, in Berlin with the Philharmonic Orchestra. The Berlin critics were unanimous in their praise, and the artistic success of an American composer was especially interesting, for until then Germany, with Berlin as its musical center, had not considered young America capable of producing much of anything beyond very clever businessmen.

In the summer of 1886 his Carnival Scene for orchestra was played at the Allegemeine Deutsche musical festival in Sonderhausen, of which Franz Liszt was president, and met with spontaneous success. Liszt was especially delighted with the work, and not only publicly congratulated the composer at the concert, but wrote him immediately afterward concerning a four and eight hand arrangement.

In July of the same year Bird conducted, by invitation of the directors of the North American Sangerbund in Milwaukie, his second orchestra suite. Bird was living in Berlin, Germany.

His principle published works are:

  • Symphony in A major
  • Three suites for grand orchestra
  • Two suites for strings
  • Serenade for ten wind instruments
  • Carnival Scene for grand orchestra
  • Two Episodes for grand orchestra
  • Introduction and Fugue for orchestra
  • Two Oriental scenes for flue and orchestra
  • Grand romantic and fantastic ballet, Rubezahl.

In addition to the above he has written a great number of larger and smaller piano words for two and four hands.