North Central High School Distinguished Alumnus

GEORGE FREDERICK McKAY

Class of 1916
Inducted 2008

George Frederick McKay began teaching at the University of Washington in 1927 and remained as Professor of Music for 41 years. His range of musical expression encompassed symphonies, chamber works, songs, band pieces, woodwind ensembles, harp compositions, organ music, cantatas, musical plays, modern dance, and jazzy piano pieces. Literally hundreds of these works were published and performed worldwide during his lifetime.

McKay authored books concerning orchestration and harmony, and wrote many articles concerning modern music and the American scene. In his later years, he composed many excellent chamber works, such as “Carson City Sonatine for Violin and Piano,” that reflected his retirement in the Lake Tahoe area.

He often composed music that was inspired by natural environment, and in 1952 the Seattle Symphony commissioned him to compose the Centennial orchestral work for the City of Seattle, known as the “Evocation Symphony (Symphony for Seattle).”

McKay's legacy is a treasure of original musical compositions reflecting the 20th Century as well as a great number of works with important historical references to the poems and folk songs of the American nation and the world. He is remembered by his students, friends, and family as a man who loved his country, respected originality in the arts, and influenced others with kindness and a warm sense of humor.

George Frederick McKay died in 1970 at the age of 71.

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