Born: September 16, 1847 Sandusky, Ohio, USA
Died: June 14, 1933 - Mt. Kisco, New York, USA
The American pianist, teacher, organist and composer, Albert Ross Parsons, came from a very musical family (one of his ancestors, John Parsons was organist in Westminster Abbey, London) and Albert Ross - belonging by ancestry to the Society of the the Sons of the Revolution was very early destined to a musical career. When he was 4 years old a visitor brought a guitar into the family and this seems to be his first musical experience. Two years after he received his first piano lessons (1854) with R. Denton and his first public appearance came two years later in Buffalo at the age of nine. In fact it was a standing performance because he was still too small to reach the pedal when he sat on the bench.
When the family moved to Indianapolis in 1858, Albert Ross Parsons officiated in one of the local churches as organist but the only teacher to be found there pronounced him too advanced for instruction. Thus it was decided that he should have a more thorough education. So in New York he studied with Dr. Frederic Louis Ritter (piano, harmony and counterpoint) until he in 1867 went to Europe and enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory where his teachers were Ignaz Moscheles, Carl Reinecke, Papperitz, Oscar Paul, E. F. Richter and Ferdinand David. In 1870 he entered the Pianists' High School to study with the Franz Liszt pupil Carl Tausig, Ehlert and Weitzmann and from 1970 (after C. Tausig's death) at the New Academy of Music with Theodore Kullak. Through this time he made personal contact with Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and Hans von Bülow. In Germany he devoted much attention to aesthetics, philosophy, metaphysics and theology as well as to the translation of works from German into English.
Since his return to America in 1872, Albert Ross Parsons was prominently connected with musical affairs in New York City and contributed largely to musical literature. He was at one time editor of Benham's Review and his translation of Wagner's philosophical study, entitled Beethoven was considered a masterpiece. Among his other works were The Science of Piano Practice, The Principles of Expression Applied to the Pianoforte and Teaching Reforms, Teaching Reforms, a translation of Kullak's Edition of Chopin's Piano Compositions, Hollander's Edition of Schumann's Piano Works and Parcifal; Finding Christ through Musical Art or Wagner as a Theologian.
Among his compositions are Night has Thousand Eyes, Break, Break, Te Deum and numerous songs.
Parsons was a member of Episcopal Church, New York, Genealogical and Bibliographical Society, vice president of and director of the Pianoforte Department, Metropolitan College of Music, New York City, foundation member, incorporator, examiner and fellow of American College of Music - and from 1885 to 1894 he was organist of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.