(b Whangarei, 23 April 1941). New Zealand composer. Part-Maori, she was born into a musical family and began composing at an early age. After attending the University of Auckland (1959–62) and Victoria University, Wellington (BMus 1964), she studied composition with Sculthorpe at the University of Sydney (MMus 1966). Maxwell Davies's lectures in Adelaide (1966) stimulated her to continue studying with him in England the following year. She was composer-in-residence at Northern Arts, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1978–80, before joining the staff at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1981, where she later became Head of Composition. After leaving the Conservatorium in 1995, she continued to divide her time between New Zealand and Australia as a freelance composer.
Whitehead, a prolific composer working regularly to commissions, described her musical language as Expressionism; it is invariably atonal, apart from sparing use of quotation in stage works. Tightly constructed linear writing reveals European sources, and in the stage works the passionate vocal lines are placed in coherent harmonic and melodic networks related to plot and characterization. The influences of the Maori spirituality of her heritage and the New Zealand landscape have also been increasingly acknowledged in her works.
The success of her first chamber opera, Tristan and Iseult (composed 1975, first performed 1978), was followed by numerous music theatre works composed in collaboration with two writers, London-based New Zealand poet Fleur Adcock and the Australian writer Anna-Maria dell'Oso. With Adcock she wrote a number of large-scale vocal works, including an opera The King of the Other Country (1984) and three monodramas: Hotspur (1980), Eleanor of Aquitaine (1982) and Out of this Nettle, Danger (1983), the last named based on the writings of Katherine Mansfield. The Australian collaborations with dell'Oso produced three significant operas, The Pirate Moon (1986), Bride of Fortune (1988) and The Art of Pizza (1995).
Stage: Tristan and Iseult (chbr op, M. Crowthers and M. Hill), 1975; The Tinker's Curse (children's op, J. Aiken), 1979; Requiem, Mez, org, dancers, 1981; The King of the Other Country (chbr op, F. Adcock), 1984; The Pirate Moon (chbr op, A.-M. dell'Oso), 1986; Bride of Fortune (chbr op, dell'Oso), 1988; Angels Born at the Speed of Light (C. McQueen), 1992, choreog. B. Judge; The Art of Pizza (chbr op, dell'Oso), 1995
Orch: Te Tangi a Apakura, str, 1975; Tirea, ob, vn, vc, hpd, str, 1978; Hoata, chbr orch, 1979; Resurgences, 1989
Choral: Missa brevis, SATB, 1963; 5 Songs of Hildegard von Bingen, SATB, 1976; The Inner Harbour (Adcock), SATB, chbr orch, perc, 1979; Low Tide, Aramoana (McQueen), Mez, SATB, 3 tpt, 2 trbn, timp, 1982; The Virgin and the Nightingale (5 songs, Adcock, after medieval lyrics), S, Mez, C, T, Bar/B, chorus/sextet, 1986; Moments (McQueen), SATB, 1993; Tongues, Swords, Keys (R. Stow), SSAATTBB, 4 perc, 1985
Other vocal: Pakuru, S, fl, cl, va, vc, hpd, perc, 1967; Whakatau-ki (Maori proverbs), male v, chbr ens, 1970; Bright Forms Return (K. Raine), Mez, str qt, 1980; Hotspur (Adcock), S, ens, 1980; Pao, S, cl, pf, 1981; Eleanor of Aquitaine (Adcock), Mez, ens, 1982; Out of this Nettle, Danger (Adcock, after K. Mansfield), Mez, ens, 1983; These Isles your Dream (Raine), Mez, va, pf, 1983; Awa Herea, S, pf, 1993
Chbr and solo inst: Okuru, vn, pf, 1979; Antiphons, 3 tpt, 2 hn, 3 trbn, tuba, 1980; Ahotu (o matenga), ens, 1984; Manutaki, fl, cl, vn, vc, pf, 1985; Windstreams, perc, 1985; Napier's Bones, 24 perc, improvised jazz pf, 1989, also arr. 6 perc, improvised jazz pf; Angels Born at the Speed of Light, str qt, 1990; Moon, Tides and Shoreline, str qt, 1990; The Journey of Matuku Moana, vc, 1992
Pf: Fantasia on 3 Notes, 1966; La cadenza sia corta, 1974; Voices of Tane, 1976; Tamatea Tutahi, 1980; Lullaby for Matthew, 1981; 5 Bagatelles, 1986
CC (S. Mays)
GroveW (J.M. Thomson) [incl. further bibliography]
W.Southgate: ‘Tristan and Iseult’, Islands, vi/4 (1978), 416–19
E.Kerr: ‘Gillian Whitehead Talks to Music in New Zealand’, Music in New Zealand, vi/spr. (1989), 11–19
J.M. THOMSON/ELIZABETH KERR
Whitehill, Clarence (Eugene)
(b Marengo, IA, 5 Nov 1871; dNew York, 18 Dec 1932). American baritone and bass-baritone. His vocal talent was discovered in Chicago in 1896 by Melba, who advised him to study in Paris; his teachers there were Giraudet and Sbriglia. He made his début in Brussels in 1898. After performing in Europe and the USA, and further study with Julius Stockhausen in Frankfurt, he undertook engagements in several German cities, studied the Wagner repertory at Bayreuth, appeared there very successfully as Wolfram (1904) and Amfortas (1908), and was also the much applauded Wotan in Richter’s English-language Covent Garden Ring of 1908 and 1909. His début with the Metropolitan company (15 November 1909, Brooklyn) as Wolfram, and at the Metropolitan Opera House (25 November 1909) as Amfortas began a long and successful, though not entirely harmonious, association with that house, where his Hans Sachs was particularly admired. His Metropolitan career lasted until 1932, the year of his death. Whitehill was an outstanding singer and artist, notable for beauty of tone and for nobility and dignity of style. The best of his many recordings are the earlier ones, in which he sang his Wagner excerpts in the original German. His 1914 version of Amfortas’s Prayer is unsurpassed in its combination of pure line, perfect enunciation and poignant intensity.
F. Williams: ‘Clarence Whitehill’, Record Collector, xxii (1974–5), 221–63 [with discography by W.R. Moran]