John Davison, composer-pianist, grew up in upper New York State and in New York City. He studied music at the Juilliard, Haverford College, Harvard and Eastman, where he received his doctorate. Among his teachers were Alfred Swan, Randall Thompson, Walter Piston, Bernard Rogers, Howard Hanson, Alan Hovhaness, and Robert Palmer. John taught at Haverford College from 1959 until his death. He received a number of prizes and fellowships. Among his many commissions were ones from the Nittany Valley Symphony and the Altoona Symphony Orchestra. His music was published and recorded and has been played widely in the United States, as well as in Europe and Asia. Among orchestras playing his compositions have been the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia, the Susquehanna Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. The Chestnut Brass Company recorded his Brass Quintet on their CD “Pastime with Good Company,” and Albany Records issued an all-Davison CD. He wrote for most of the standard media, as well as for unusual instruments such as koto, cimbalom, and bagpipe. His trom- bone music was particularly widely played. John co-authored with John Ashmead a book on the songs of Roberts Burns with new harmonizations of the folk tunes that Burns used. These were featured in a video shown on national public television and were recorded with soprano Shoshana Shay. Davison’s idiom was rooted in the great Western classic-romantic tradition with Baroque, Renaissance, jazz, modernist, and folk elements mixing in at times.
John was a beloved member of the Music Department at Haverford and is dearly missed.