Oral Histories

Interview of John Vincent

Composer and UCLA professor of music.
Flautist, Composer, Teacher
Interviews not in a series, part one
Biographical Note:
Composer and UCLA professor of music.
Weschler, Lawrence
Vincent, John
Persons Present:
Vincent and Weschler. Vincent's daughterHelen was occasionally present, as were various members of the hospital staff.
Place Conducted:
Tapes I to II: Vincent's apartment in Los Angeles, California; Tapes III to IV: Vincent's room at Santa Monica Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Lawrence Weschler, Assistant Editor, UCLA Oral HistoryProgram; B.A., philosophy and cultural History,UC Santa Cruz.
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by the interviewer, Lawrence Weschler. The verbatim transcript was checked against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, spelling, and verification of proper nouns. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Thefinal manuscript remains in the same order as the original taped material. Vincent did not review the transcript, and therefore some proper names may remain unverified.The front matter and index were prepared by Teresa Barnett, editorial assistant.
6 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Vincent's early musical interests; father John Nathaniel Vincent's business enterprises; Vincent's decision to go into music rather than engineering; early reading of music textbooks and his desire to compose; his identity as a southerner; religious background; Vincent's interest in American folk songs in the 1930s; a year at Ithaca Conservatory of Music; American musicians lag in accepting twentieth-century avant-garde music; Vincent transfers to the New England Conservatory; playing in the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Serge Koussevitzky; Vincent decides to earn his living teaching while composing in his spare time; studying composition under George Whitefield Chadwick; becomes a high school music teacher in El Paso, Texas, and makes great improvements in the city's music program; begins working on a B.S. degree at Chicago Music College and at Northwestern University; becomes a teaching fellow at George Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee; enters the Ph.D. program at Harvard University; studies under Walter Piston; Nicolas Slonimsky; his developing interest in modality; convincing Piston of his theories on modality; Vincent's book, The Diatonic Modes in Modern Music; teaching philosophies in the UCLA and University of Southern California music departments; Vincent's recognition that a Ph.D. would be an advantage in seeking teaching jobs; goes to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger; Dinu Lipatti; Paris as a center for artists in the 1930s; Boulanger's attempts to have Vincent use conventional harmonies; students of many different nationalities attend Boulanger's classes; Vincent's financial situation; his divorce; son Nathaniel Reed Vincent; political climate in Paris of the late 1930s; traveling through Germany in 1936; attends the 1936 Olympics in Berlin; Vincent's favorite composers; differences between the music of Germany and France after World War I.