Philip Frederick Wright James (May 17, 1890 – November 1, 1975) was an American composer, conductor and music educator.
James was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. At an early age he began piano, violin and theory lessons, and served as choirboy in several New Jersey churches. From 1904 to 1909 he studied organ with J. Warren Andrews and in 1907 began advanced harmony and counterpoint lessons with Homer Norris. He also studied composition with, as well as organ with Joseph Bonnet and Alexandre Guilmant in Paris.
In World War I James played in and subsequently became bandleader of the American Expeditionary Forces Headquarters Band.
In 1922 he co-founded and became the first conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and in 1923, began a long teaching career at New York University, serving as head of the music department from 1934-1956.
Though he remained active as a composer until his death in 1975, James' larger-scale compositions were infrequently played after the mid-twentieth century. However several of his early sacred compositions, including "Meditation a Ste. Clotilde" for organ and the anthem "By the Waters of Babylon" remain in the sacred repertoire.
"Pensée d'automne" was published by H. W. Gray in 1921 as No. 288 in the large "St. Cecilia Series."
The work, an "autumn thought" is a rich, yet concise tapestry that shows the young composer in a "French mood," as shown by the harmonic and melodic ideas, as well as some of the required colors used.
Many "autumn works" are dark and somber, but this one is quite bright and hopeful. It's conceived in quite an "orchestral manner," and not easy to bring off, as you need BIG hands in one spot, or, a "work-around," which is the way I had to go.
This upload is dedicated with friendship to the composer's son, Phil, a good friend. :-)
The score is attached below (in two pdf's, as the "complete" one has two pages missing, which are supplied in the "little" one.
Also, a photo of a young Philip James.