by Bob and Helen Margulies
George Andrews, composer, musician, and music teacher, was president of the South Bay Chamber Music Society and served as an active board member for many years. Always a champion of new music, he encouraged the Society to expand its horizons. Musicians sought out his compositions and performed several on the series. He was an enthusiastic advocate for the several fine jazz concerts that appeared on the schedule in the late 1970s through early 1990s and used his connections within the Los Angeles jazz community to engage ensembles.
George Andrews was born in Winnipeg, Canada, of Greek parents, the youngest of three brothers. He was three years old when he began to play the piano. He wanted to take piano lessons, but since an older brother was already studying that instrument, George was given lessons on the mandolin. Already in the third grade, he had decided that he wanted to be a musician. His family disagreed, but he said, "That's the way it's going to be."
There were no music classes in the schools in Winnipeg at that time, but somehow during high school he discovered great music. He immediately loved Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony, Beethoven's 5th, and everything of Bach. Later he found Debussy, Ravel, and even Stockhausen. He would conduct while listening to recordings. Once a year Dimitri Mitropoulos came to Winnipeg, and George remembers speaking to him. When he heard Beethoven's 9th, it rang in his ears for two weeks. His love for Beethoven's string quartets dates from these early years. He also came to love the music of Stravinsky and Ives.
During the war years, many jazz musicians came to Winnipeg. George remembers listening to Louis Armstrong for four hours. Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and especially Dizzy Gillespie were his idols. Soon he began to play in small jazz bands and later in big bands. His main instrument at that time was the trumpet, but he also played string bass and piano when needed.
When he was nineteen, George went to Montreal, where he played in jazz clubs until 5 a.m., often without pay, in order to learn. Two years later he went to Boston to study the Schillinger system of composition. This experience was to be a crucial part of his life as a composer. He had private lessons with Kenneth MacKillop, Jr. The five years in Boston were exciting emotionally. He played in jazz commercial shows and spent half of his time on the road at such places as Cape Cod and Hyannisport. He also attended Boston University for a while and the Berklee School of Music. This was when he began composing seriously.
He fell in love with a Chinese girl from Hawaii, a social worker with a Master's degree from Smith College. This romance lasted for 3 or 4 years, but he was "just a wandering musician" to her.
At the age of thirty he arrived in Long Beach, and soon became an American citizen. Then began a pattern of alternately going to school, playing jazz, and writing music. He studied at Long Beach City College for a year, then moved to USC to work with Halsey Stevens, a teacher he greatly appreciated because Stevens let him find his own way.
In the early 1960s he was leader and pianist of a jazz band that appeared at the Hollywood Palladium in a "Battle of the Bands." Each of five bands played for half an hour.
When he married and had a daughter, he realized that he had to go back to school to support his family. He earned his MA at Cal State Fullerton. This marriage ended after ten years.
Working and studying almost caused a nervous breakdown; he was teaching and playing jazz on weekends. In 1966 he began to teach at South High School in Torrance, where he remained for nineteen years. He directed the marching band and, in one spectacular year, had five all-California Honor Band students. He was next in line to go to Princeton University to be on a panel of music teachers to choose music suitable for college entrance exams, but a lack of funds canceled that program.
One of his students was Emily Karr, who performed with a group for the South Bay Chamber Music Society on February 15, 1970 and March 5, 1978. George learned about the Society through her parents, Helen and Philip Karr, who were members of our Board of Directors. He soon joined the board, becoming president in 1977. His compositions were performed at our concerts on November 18, 1977, October 8, 1993, and, at a special concert that featured his compositions alone, on June 22, 1983.
After he remarried in 1971, his home became a center for musicians throughout the Los Angeles area, who played in his informal "Saturday Night Orchestra."
George took an early retirement when the first symptoms of Parkinson's disease appeared. After retirement he wrote three pieces that have never been played - a string quartet, a piano piece, and a sonata for cello and piano.
He died on August 9, 2004, at the age of 77.
1958 "Three Sketches for a String Quartet"
1964 "The Oxen" (Thomas Hardy) for Chorus and Piano
1965 "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" (Walt Whitman) for Chorus and Piano
1965 "When to the Sessions" (William Shakespeare) for Chorus and Piano
1965 "Delight in Disorder" (Robert Herrick) for Chorus and Piano
1965 Duet for Clarinet and Cello
1965 "Expansions and Contractions" for B-Flat Clarinet alone
1965 Sonata for Piano
1966 Symphonic Variations for Orchestra
1966 Solipsism for Soprano and String Trio (George Santayana)
1968 Sonata for Trumpet and Piano
1969 "Tutti Variations" for Violin, Cello, and Piano
1971 Suite for Unaccompanied Cello
1972 "344" for String Quartet
1974 Sibling Duet for Viola and Cello
1980 Four Bagatelles for Piano (Not To Be Trifled With) composed for Natalie Field
1982 Periodicities I for Flute and Piano
1982 Periodicities II for Double String Quartet, or for String Orchestra without Basses
1982 Periodicities III for Amplified Violin, Vibraphone, and Trombone
1985 Three Piano Miniatures (after Stravinsky) for Eugene Feingold
1987 Sonata for Cello and Piano
1991 Duet for Violin and Viola
1991 Piece for Two Guitars (unfinished)
1993 "Reminiscing - A Quintet for Woodwinds"
1993 Piece for Piano, 4 hands (unfinished)
1993 String Quartet (unfinished)
1993 Sonata for Cello and Piano
Musicians interested in performing compositions by George Andrews may contact Bob Margulies at firstname.lastname@example.org.