John La Montaine was born in Oak Park, Illinois in 1920.
He studied compostion at the Eastman School of Music with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson then he studied at Julliard. He was a touring perfoming pianist and played with the NBC symphony with Arturo Toscanini. He then went to France and studied with Nadia Boulanger. He was a full time composer until his late 30’s when he went into stock brokering. He was about to quit composing when in 1959 he won a pulitzer prize for his piano concerto opus 9. Since then he has recieved enough commisions to compose full time.
In honor of the American Bicentennial celebration in 1976, he was commissioned to create a choral work for the Penn State Institute for Arts and Humanistic Studies. The opera, entitled "Be Glad Then America" was performed by the University Choirs, under the direction of Sarah Caldwell. The folk singer Odetta appeared as the Muse for America.
La Montaine lives in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. His publisher, Fredonia Press, is named for the street on which he lives. His business partner was the composer and pianist Paul J. Sifler (1911–2001).
"Even Song" was commissioned by Sifler for a series of historical organ recitals at St. Paul's Chapel, Trinity Parish, NYC, and was given its premiere by him on June 30, 1952. The second performance was given by Searle Wright in Westminster Abbey on August 11, 1955.
I have to admit that I've never really "liked" this piece, and I did this partially as an "exercise" to see if I could "change my mind".
Personally, I don't think this piece has anything to do with "evensong". Rather, I think it is a "song of the evening", but, who knows... ;-)
I decided to do this while I'm working on some other new pieces.
It's very carefully notated, in terms of dynamics and phrasing. It certainly "works" well enough on the organ, but there is something about it that just doesn't seem "organ-like" - at least to me!