William Mason

@Musicians, Birthday and Family

Biography of William Mason, one of the most popular and gifted American composers of all time, giving information on his life, profile and childhood

Jan 24, 1829

MassachusettsAmericanMusiciansPianistsComposersAquarius Celebrities

Personal Details

  • Birthday: January 24, 1829
  • Died on: July 14, 1908
  • Nationality: American
  • Famous: Musicians, Pianists, Composers
  • City/State: Massachusetts
  • Siblings: Henry Mason
  • Universities:
    • Hull Grammar School
    • St John's College
    • Cambridge

William Mason born at


Birth Place

Childhood & Early LifeBorn in Boston, New York, on January 24, 1829, William Mason was a member of a musical family. Mason’s father was considered be to a leading name in American church music in those days, while, his younger brother Henry Mason was renowned as the co-founder of the piano manufacturers, ‘Mason and Hamlin Company’. Though, Mason was born in a musical family, he did not receive much encouragement from his family to pursue a career in music. His father wanted him to take up a career in the clergy, which Mason refused strongly. Around 1845, he began his piano studies under Henry Schmidt at the Boston Academy of Music. At the same time, he was also involved in composing and publishing his works for the piano, ‘Deux Romances Sans Paroles’. In 1846, William Mason came up with his debut composition at the Boston Academy of Music, where he gave a performance on the Variations on the Air from Méhul’s “Joseph”, Opus 20. After his successful debut at the Boston Academy of Music, William Mason moved to Europe.Musical EducationMason went to Germany for further studies in piano in 1849. He stayed there for five years and visited cities like Leipzig, Prague and Weimar. While in Germany, he received musical lessons from some of the most brilliant pianists of that era like Ignaz Moscheles, Moritz Hauptmann, Alexander Dreyschock and Ernst Friedrich Eduard Richter. He was fortunate enough to be the first American piano student of Franz Lisztand Ignaz Moscheles. During this time, he also published several academic works for the piano students. Mason’s growing popularity and influence was evident from the fact that, Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) dedicated his second piano sonata to William Mason. William Mason’s masterly use of octaves, his great registers, cadenza-like flourishes, and complex arpeggio figuration reflected the influence of great musician like Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg.  Career                         In the year 1854, William Mason returned to USA and began his career as a concert pianist. He was successful in building an admirable reputation through various concert tours. Within a year however, Mason realized that his musical tours are not going to yield anything of essence. Therefore, he moved to New York City and spent the rest of his years there as a performer, teacher as well as a composer. The formation a chamber ensemble was a major development during this period which included Mason and the violinist Theodore Thomas. In additions to his publications, William Mason became famous as a piano pedagogue. In his lifetime he also held many important positions in musical academies. In the year 1901, Mason’s illuminating autobiography, ‘Memories of a musical Life’ got published in New York. Mason carried on as a professional teacher and composer working mostly from his studio in Steinway Hall. Whereas his compositions from 1857-1890 reflected the melodic poeticism and the dance like rhythms, those from 1890-1905 consist more of personal and complex idioms of Johannes Brahms, Schumann and Fauré.  William Mason passed away on July 14, 1908 in New York, when he was 79 years old.  Major WorksSilver Spring, for piano, Op 6Capriccio Fantastico, for piano, Op. 50Rêverie Poétique, for piano, Op. 24Improvisation, for piano, Op. 51Valse-Caprice, for piano, Op. 17Deux Humoresques de Bal, for piano, Op. 23La Sabotière: Danse aux Sabots, for piano, Op. 33Lullaby, for piano, Op.10 Badinage, for piano, 4-hands, Op. 27Caprice Grotesque, for piano, Op. 22Ballade et Barcarolle, for pianoPréludes (3) for piano 3 tracksAmourette, for piano, Op. 48Valse de Bravoure, for piano, Op. 5

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