Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mary Carr Moore

Mary Carr Moore (1873-1957)

One of the common traits among the women composers I have already posted and ones to come in the upcoming weeks is their ability to multi-task within their musical ability.  In addition, nearly all these composers’ talent was recognized when they were quite young!

Mary Carr Moore was a composer, conductor, singer and music educator which made her a working musician of her day. 

Born in Tennessee, she lived with her family for ten years in Louisville, Kentucky before they relocated to the West Coast.  California became her home base for the remainder of her life. 

In San Francisco Miss Moore began composition lesson with J. H. Pratt and voice lessons with H. B. Pasmore.  At age 16 she began teaching and composing.  That same year her first published song was released for sale.  Having composed her first operetta, “The Oracle,” she performed the lead at the premiere of the work!  Eventually Mary Carr Moore gave up singing to devote her time to composing and teaching. 

Her operetta was only the first of her stage works.  In Seattle, she composed a four-act opera titled, “Narcissa” about the attack on the mission of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman in Walla Walla, Washington in 1847.  Singers were brought in from New York City to perform leading roles and Miss Moore conducted the premiere since no other conductor was available.  She continued to promote opera in Seattle for the remainder of her life. 

Her two-act grand opera “David Rizzio” was commissioned for production in Venice.  This was the only libretto in Italian she set in her lifetime.  Though the performance in Venice did not evolve, an amateur group in Los Angeles premiered the work. 

From 1926 to her death, she resided in Los Angeles where she taught at Chapman College and the Olga Steeb Piano School.  Miss Moore promoted American Music organizing the American Music Center in Seattle and mentoring composers for performances of their music.

Mary Carr Moore’s musical style would best be described as conservative.  Holding to the Romantic era’s harmonies and tonalities with beautiful melodies, she also ventured into whole tone scales used in the Impressionistic period. 

Gena Branscombe and Mary Carr Moore were colleagues through their membership in the music section of the National League of American Pen Women!


  1. Hi! Do you know where I can find scores to peruse of Mary Carr Moore's operas/operettas?

  2. Hi - Mary Carr Moore's archives are held in California. Below is a hyperlink that collection. Good luck.