Miriam Gideon (October 23, 1906 – June 18, 1996) was an American composer.


Miriam Gideon was born in Greeley, Colorado, on October 23, 1906. She studied organ with her uncle Henry Gideon and piano with Felix Fox. She also studied with Martin Bernstein, Marion Bauer, Charles Haubiel, and Jacques Pillois. She studied harmony, counterpoint, and composition with Lazare Saminsky and at his suggestion also composition with Roger Sessions, after which she abandoned tonality and wrote in a freely atonal or extended post-tonal style.[1]

Gideon moved to New York City where she taught at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY) from 1944 to 1954 and City College, CUNY from 1947 to 1955. She then taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America at the invitation of Hugo Weisgall in 1955, and at the Manhattan School of Music from 1967 to 1991. She was rehired by City College in 1971 as full professor and retired in 1976.[1]

In 1949 Gideon married Brooklyn College assistant professor Frederic Ewen. Both were political leftists. Ewen, who refused to testify before the Rapp-Coudert Committee in 1940, was summoned to testify before the Senate Internal Security Committee chaired by Democratic Senator Pat McCarran in 1952. He retired to avoid testifying. Miriam Gideon was investigated by the FBI, and in 1954 and 1955 she resigned from her music teaching posts at City College and Brooklyn College.[2]

Gideon composed much vocal music, setting texts by Francis Thompson, Christian Morgenstern, Anne Bradstreet, Norman Rosten, Serafin, Joaquín Quintero and others.[1] Selected compositions include Lyric Piece for Strings (1942), Mixco (1957), Adon Olom, Fortunato, Sabbath Morning Service, Friday Evening Service, and Of Shadows Numberless (1966).

She was the second woman inducted into American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1975, following Louise Talma who was inducted in 1974.[1]

The Miriam Gideon Prize

The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) offers the Miriam Gideon Prize annually for female undergraduate and graduate students who are members of IAWM. Applicants must be 50 years of age or over, and submit an original unpublished musical score for voice and piano or voice and small chamber ensemble.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Hisama, Ellie M. (2001). Gendering Musical Modernism: The Music of Ruth Crawford, Marion Bauer, and Miriam Gideon, pp. 6–7. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-64030-X.
  2. ^ Robert Adlington, ed., Red Strains: Music and Communism Outside the Communist Bloc after 1945 (Oxford University Press, 2013),[page needed], ISBN 9780197265390
  3. ^ Search for New Music by Women Composers: Past Award Recipients, retrieved 14 October 2015 

Further reading

  • Kielian-Gilbert, Marianne. "Of Poetics and Poeisis", p. 44-67. Discusses Of Shadows Numberless.
  • Perle, George (1958). "The Music of Miriam Gideon", American Composers Bulletin 7/4, 4.
  • Shaw, Jennifer (1995). "Moon Tides and male Poets: (En)gendering Identity in Miriam Gideon's Nocturnes, paper presented at the Feminist Theory and Music III conference, University of California at Riverside.

External links