Binkerd, Gordon W. (1916-2003) | University of Illinois Archives
Gordon Ware Binkerd (1916-2003) was born in Lynch, Nebraska. He began playing piano at an early age. Binkerd graduated from Dakota Wesleyan College in Mitchell, South Dakota in 1937 with a degree in composition, where he studied with Gail Kubik and Russell Danburg. He finished his master's degree in composition at Eastman School of music in 1941. After the United States entered WWII, Binkerd volunteered for service with the US Navy. After WWII, Binkerd went to Harvard University, where he studied composition with Walter Piston; he would later graduate in 1952. While studying at Harvard, Binkerd accepted a position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he taught from 1949-1971.
Binkerd's compositional style developed into many phases while at the University of Illinois. While he did explore serialist methods in the early 1950s, the majority of his pieces are tonal in nature, albeit highly chromatic. During his tenure at the University of Illinois from the mid 1950s to the 1970s, the University was developing a name for itself in the areas of experimental music, atonal music, and electronic music. Thus at the time, Binkerd was seen as a "conservative" in musical style. The majority of his musical works are vocal songs or choral pieces, but he also composed three symphonies, two string quartets, as well as a number of works for chamber ensembles and organ.