The American composer, flutist, and educator Katherine Hoover died on September 21st.
Her life was an inspiration to many.
As a young woman from West Virginia, Hoover wanted to major in music, but her parents thought it impractical. So in 1955 she enrolled at the University of Rochester. Two years later, she transferred to the Eastman School of Music, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s in Music Theory and a Performer’s Certificate in flute. She also studied composition, but felt discouraged, she later said, by the fact that she was the only woman in her composition classes and rarely given individual attention.
Hoover moved to New York City and essentially taught herself to write music. She received a National Endowment Composer’s Fellowship and slew of prizes, including an Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award. A 1990 piece for solo flute, “Kokopelli,” sold more than 11,000 copies. In 2016 Hoover earned the National Flute Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Composer John Corigliano called her an extraordinary composer: "She has a wide and fascinating vocabulary which she uses with enormous skill. Her music is fresh and individual. It is dazzlingly crafted, and will reach an audience as it provides interest to the professional musician. She is just too good not to be recognized."
Her death surprised her colleagues and admirers.
In one online tribute, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra flutist Joanna Bassett wrote: "I will be forever grateful for Katherine's willingness to write her concerto, Four Winds for the NFA Gala Concert in Washington, D.C. in 2015. It was an honor to work with her and with Mark Sparks, whose playing she admired greatly, and who played its premiere at the convention. To be able to hear a small part of her creative process is forever in my memory, and her generosity to the flute community is enormous."