Edward Joseph Collins:
An American Composer
BY ERIK ERIKSSON
and pianist Edward Joseph Collins was born 10 November 1886 in
Joliet, Illinois, the youngest of nine children. After early
studies in Joliet, be began work with Rudolf Ganz in Chicago.
In 1906, he traveled with Ganz to Berlin, where he enrolled in
the Hochschule für Musik in performance and composition.
Upon graduation, he made a successful concert debut in Berlin,
winning positive reviews from several critics.
After Collins returned to the United States in
the fall of 1912, he toured several larger eastern cities, again
winning strong reviews. After serving as an assistant conductor
at the Century Opera Company in New York, he traveled
again to Europe , to become an assistant conductor at the Bayreuth
Festival, a position cut short by the outbreak
of WW I.
During that war, Collins rose from Private to
Lieutenant. He served as an interpreter, entertained the troops
as pianist, and received a citation for bravery.
Upon return to Chicago, he began a career in teaching,
joining the faculty of Chicago Musical College. He later married
Frieda Mayer, daughter of Oscar Mayer.
Collins had co-authored Who Can Tell? in
Europe near the end of WWI; the operetta was enjoyed in Paris
by President Wilson. Collins continued composing on return to
the USA. Two compositions submitted to a Chicago competition
in 1923 were among the finalists, one the outright winner. Both
works attracted the attention of Frederick Stock, Music Director
of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Stock conducted the first
performance of 1914 (Tragic Overture) and,
eventually, many of Collins's subsequent orchestral compositions
Collins died 7 December 1951, leaving an
oeuvre comprised of ten major orchestral works (including a
symphony, two overtures and three suites), three piano concerti, Hymn
to the Earth (for orchestra, choir, and four solo voices),
several chamber works, 15 songs for voice and piano (four arranged
by Verne Reynolds for chamber/string orchestra), and more than
a dozen piano solo and duo scores.