Ferde Grofé

Born March 27, 1892 in New York, New York
Died April 3, 1972 in Santa Monica, California




Modern 1920-Present


Grand Canyon Suite, Broadway at Night, Mississippi Suite, and Death Valley Suite

Ferde Grofé


Grofé, the descendant of four generations of classical musicians, had an unusual life. After he ran away from home at age fourteen, he worked as a milkman, truck driver, helper in a book bindery, iron factory worker, piano player in a bar for $2 a night, and accompanist.

He also worked as an arranger for a jazz orchestra, a violinist for the Los Angeles Symphony, and a conductor and a faculty member at the Juilliard School of Music where he taught orchestration. All of these various experiences can be heard in his music: he liked to combine jazz rhythms and simple ballad-like tunes into his music.

Grofé was also a gifted arranger and orchestrator. He orchestrated many piano works for other composers including Gershwin and Ravel.