Morris, Harold (1890–1964)

By: Alice C. Cochran

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: April 1, 1995

Harold Morris, composer and teacher, was born in San Antonio on March 17, 1890, the son of Harold and Nellie (Meyer) Morris. He earned his B.A. degree at the University of Texas in 1910. He moved to New York in 1916 and soon earned the reputation as one of the most promising young pianist–composers in that city. On January 13, 1921, Morris made his concert pianist debut at Aeolian Hall. He was reviewed favorably by the New York Times and characterized as “a human being at the piano, which is rare, and a Texas composer, rarer yet.” At the Cincinnati Conservatory he earned the degrees of master of music in 1922 and doctor of music in 1939. From 1922 to 1939 he taught at the Institute of Musical Art at the Juilliard School in New York City. From 1939 to 1946 he was on the faculty of Teachers College at Columbia University.

In addition to teaching and composing, Morris made recital and lecture tours. On November 21, 1931, he performed the solo part of his piano concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He held the guest music lectureship at Rice Institute, Houston (now Rice University), in 1933. His lectures there were later published as Contemporary Music (1934). In 1939 and 1940 he gave lectures and recitals at Duke University.

Morris's compositions include three symphonies, piano and violin concertos and sonatas, chamber music, and solos. His works won the Juilliard Publication Award, the New York State and National awards of the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Publication Award of the National Association of American Composers and Conductors, the Philadelphia Music Guild Award, the Fellowship of American Composers Award, and the Award of Merit from the National Association of Composers and Conductors for service to American music. His original manuscripts are in the Texas Composers' Collection of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin. Morris was a founder of the American Music Guild. From 1936 to 1940 he served as United States director of the International Society for Contemporary Music. He was a life member of the National Association of American Composers and Conductors and served as its vice president. On August 20, 1914, he married Cosby Dansby; they had one daughter. Morris died in New York City on May 6, 1964.

Alcalde (magazine of the Ex-Students' Association of the University of Texas), December 1931, November 1940. E. Ruth Anderson, Contemporary American Composers (Boston: Hall, 1982). New York Times, May 7, 1964. Lota M. Spell, Music in Texas (Austin, 1936; rpt., New York: AMS, 1973).


  • Education
  • Educators
  • Music and Drama
  • Music
  • Genres (Classical)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Alice C. Cochran, “Morris, Harold,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 04, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995

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