Nicholas Van Slyck, Composer
1922 – 1983
Nicholas Van Slyck was born on October 25, 1922 in Pennsylvania. His father a lawyer, his mother a homemaker. Neither one thought that music was an acceptable life’s work. He did have piano lessons and eventually went to Kent School in Connecticut, an Episcopal affiliated private school without music instruction at that time (It has since developed a fine music program). After some lessons with George Reeves at the Philadelphia Conservatory, Nick went on to Harvard where he became a student of Walter Piston in composition. World War II caused a break in his studies but when his service was over, he returned to Cambridge, graduating in the war-delayed class of 1944.
Nick loved to teach. He found the perfect place-the South End Music Centre in Boston where he became director in 1950. During those years he also taught at Milton Academy and in 1962 became Director of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge. During that time the Longy Concert Hall was built and connections made with Bentley College so that students could earn a degree as well as receive a professional music education—all the while keeping Longy welcoming and open to lessons for all.
During his time at Longy Nick also taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, conducted several local orchestras and choral societies (including guest conducting the Boston Pops), played piano recitals, lecture recitals, and duo piano recitals with his wife Trudi.
And composed during every spare moment.
The compositions range from orchestra and chorus works to duos and trios for winds and strings. There is an abundance of keyboard music: solo and duo, sonatas, suites, concertos, and unclassified modern works. Some pieces are published, some are in various libraries and all the original manuscripts are stored in the Hans Moldenhauer Archives, Houghton Library, Harvard.
Other libraries that hold fairly large selections of his scores are the Boston Public Library, the New York Public Library Music Department (which holds the complete American Music Center collection when it was transferred to the NYPL), and the Loeb Music Library at Harvard. More music can be found at the Lewis music library (MIT) in Cambridge and the Harvard Musical Association in Boston. Other college libraries throughout the USA hold some Van Slyck music. As always, the internet is helpful in a search.