Ross Lee Finney

Ross Lee Finney Junior was an American composer born in Wells, Minnesota who taught for many years at the University of Michigan. He received his early training at Carleton College and the University of Minnesota and also studied with Nadia Boulanger, Edward Burlingame Hill, Alban Berg (from 1931-2) and Roger Sessions (in 1935). In 1928 he spent a year at Harvard University and then joined the faculty at Smith College, where he founded the Smith College Archives and conducted the Northampton Chamber Orchestra. In 1935, his setting of poems by Archibald MacLeish won the Connecticut Valley Prize and in 1937, his First String Quartet received a Pulitzer Prize. A Guggenheim Fellowship funded travel in Europe in 1937. During World War II, Finney served in the Office of Strategic Services, and received a Purple Heart and a Certificate of Merit.

In 1948, following a second Guggenheim Fellowship, Finney joined the University of Michigan faculty. There he was the founder of the University of Michigan Electronic Music Studio in 1965 and composed the score for the sesquicentennial celebration of the University of Michigan in 1967. He retired in 1974.

Finney's works were presented at the 1965 Congregation of the Arts at the Hopkins Center of Dartmouth College, at the University of Kansas, the University of Southern California, and for the 1966 Festival of Contemporary Music at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Finney collected many honors, including membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters, honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa and an honorary doctorate from Carleton College. His "Second Symphony" represented the United States at the 1963 Rostrum of International Composers at UNESCO headquarters at Paris.