Reviving selected choral compositions of Morten J. Luvaas through new performance editions

Date of Completion

January 2005






Morten J. Luvaas (1896–1973) was a central figure in the development of choral performance in the northeastern United States. In the 1920's and 30's, he served as a front-line proponent of an art still in its infancy in American secondary schools and colleges. An acknowledged disciple of F. Melius Christiansen (1871–1944) and the a cappella aesthetic, Luvaas made historic contributions to literature, pedagogy, and public awareness of the choral art. He was a prolific composer and arranger, with over 200 published contributions to choral repertoire for various voicings. From 1924 through 1965, he held positions in western Pennsylvania as a public school teacher and college professor. His leadership of singing ensembles, most notably the Allegheny Singers, influenced several generations of music educators, choir directors, and concert-goers through exposure to classical choral literature. ^ Luvaas composed and arranged as a means of developing his ensembles and demonstrating the craft of choral performance—primarily in unaccompanied mediums. Sadly, the body of works he created as a vehicle to this end has fallen into disuse and original publications are out of print. While it serves the annals of history to remember the composer fondly and revere his legacy, it serves all who sing, teach, or simply enjoy music today to revive the best of these works through new performance editions. In this study, five compositions serve to reflect the diversity of the composer's output, each by itself possessed of sufficient merit to warrant renewed consideration for contemporary performance. Performance editions of these titles are included herein, as is an annotated list of works, and a prose commentary intended to foster a greater understanding of the composer and his music. ^