Almanac Online - Lasting Memories - Leland C. Smith's memorial

Leland C. Smith
Aug. 6, 1925-Dec. 17, 2013
Palo Alto, California

Leland Clayton Smith, Professor Emeritus of Music at Stanford University, composer and performer died at home Dec. 17, 2013. Leland was born Aug. 6, 1925, in Oakland, California, to Jeannette and Vigo Smith.

Leland began his serious study of music at the age of 11. At age 15, he became a student of composer Darius Milhaud, studying counterpoint, orchestration, and composition. He joined the Musicians? Union at the age of 17 and was a life member. During the war he served as a member of the 13th Naval District Admiral?s Band based in Bremerton, WA. After the war he attended UC Berkeley, studying with Roger Sessions, and in 1948 received both an A.B. degree with Highest Honors in Music and his M.A. in Composition. He also was an assistant to Darius Milhaud. During 1948-49, Leland and his beloved wife, Edith, traveled to Paris, where he studied at the Paris Conservatory.

Proficient on bassoon, contrabassoon, clarinet and myriad other instruments, he played as a bassoonist with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, orchestras in New York and Chicago. He also performed with the National Orchestral Association and the International Society for Contemporary Music, and worked for a music publisher.

Leland taught at Mills College and University of Chicago before coming to Stanford in 1958. Teaching there 34 years, he was advisor to 41 doctoral students in composition, computer music, and musicology, including noted composers William Bolcom, Richard Swift, David Lang, Kui Dong, Dexter Morrill, and John Chowning.

As a composer, Leland wrote a distinguished body of music in many forms, including opera, orchestral, vocal, and chamber work, with many pieces drawing upon his extensive experience as a performing musician. His compositions have been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, the Orchestra of America (Carnegie Hall), and the Singapore Symphony, and in other cities world-wide. He lectured on various musical topics in over 10 countries.

He began working with computer-generated sound in the 1960?s, and was a co-founder of CCRMA at Stanford and assisted in the establishment of IRCAM (Paris). In 1970 he turned his attention to computerized music typography, creating the first completely computer-produced edition of music in 1971. The outgrowth of his earlier work on a music input system used at CCRMA, the SCORE music typography system (, is now used by the world?s leading publishers. Considered ?the father of computer music notation?, Leland continued to improve SCORE until his death.

Leland was married for 65 years to Edith M. Smith, an artist and teacher, who predeceased him in 2011. Their life together spanned teenage idylls in the Oakland hills, Paris and Europe just after WWII, and a lecture tour of the newly ?open? China of the 1980?s. Making their home in Barron Park, Palo Alto in 1958, they were among the original Donkey Handlers at Bol Park; Leland was particularly fond of spending Sunday mornings talking with visitors. He concluded that he had had a wonderful life, and was extremely grateful for all that it had given him. He will be greatly missed by his children, Stefanie, Clement, and Teresa, his five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and other family members, and all his friends and colleagues world-wide.

Tags: veteran, arts/media, teacher/educator

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Memorial service
A memorial celebration will be held at CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics), on Jan. 18, 2014, at 2 p.m.
Make a donation
Memorial gifts can be made to the Palo Alto Donkey Project ( - managed by ACTERRA) or to The Leland and Edith Smith Fund for Music, by check to ?Stanford University, The Leland and Edith Smith Fund for Music? mailed to: Stanford University, Development Services, PO Box 20466, Stanford, CA 94309-0466, or by calling 866-543-0243 (International call 650-724-0627)

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