John Marvin


John Marvin
1345 Valley View Drive
Turlock, CA 95380


John Marvin has pursued professional work in both music and the mathematical sciences, and for most of his life been active in both careers at the same time.  He was born in Fayette, Missouri in 1931, began studying music when he was four, and wrote his first complete work, Introduction and Allegro for piano trio when he was a junior in college.  Yet Marvin’s intellect was drawn in another direction.  He enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, and in 1962 earned his master’s degree in pure mathematics.  By day, he was at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, programming computers, working with astronomers and astrophysicists, determining what computations they wanted to do on data from satellites and turning those data into numbers and pictures for their perusal.  He worked on studies ranging from radio astronomy to big-bang theories.  By night, he was back in Washington DC, in the pit at the Kennedy Center, playing oboe and English horn for the resident and visiting ballet and opera companies.  Marvin then taught mathematics and music at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he balanced his classroom duties with composing.  During his ten years at The Evergreen State College he began to attract the attention of important professional performers. Among them was Julie Ann Giacobassi whom he met in the seventies when they were fellow freelancers at the Kennedy Center.  She has been a champion of Marvin’s music, premiering his Five Pieces for English Horn and Piano, his Octet for Winds (at Davies Hall with members of the San Francisco Symphony), his Music from the Night for 2 oboes and English horn (also premiered at Davies Hall), and his Tapestry for oboe d’amore, viola and piano. Carolyn Hove of the Los Angeles Philharmonic has recorded Five Pieces for English horn and Piano on the Crystal Records label.  Giacobassi has recorded Five Pieces for English horn and Piano and  Music from the Night on the Fish Creek Music label.  His works encompass a variety of genres,including instrumental and vocal chamber music, pieces for modern dance, music for carillon, and larger works for solo instruments with orchestra and wind ensemble   Vocal music by John Marvin includes Journeys for soprano, horn and piano (to texts by Walt Whitman), Ophélie for soprano solo, choir and piano (text by Rimbaud), and Ophelia is Mad for soprano and pre-recorded accompaniment (based on Hamlet, Act IV Scene 5.)  In 2002 clarinetist Frank Renk and the Wind Ensemble of the California State University Stanislaus premiered his Triptych for solo clarinet, winds and percussion.  Marvin’s Quintet for Woodwinds,  premiered at Vanderbilt University in November, 2003, was commissioned by and is dedicated to the Blair Woodwind Quintet.  The West Coast premiere was given San Francisco in June, 2005 by Citywinds.  Also in that year, Marvin was the guest composer at the Composers’ Showcase 2005 at the University of Montana at which his new work, Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, was premiered.  On the occasion of Julie Ann Giacobassi’s retirement from the San Francisco Symphony, Marvin wrote Farewell for soprano, contralto, English horn and harp.  Currently he is working on a sonata for oboe and piano for Roger Weismeyer of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.   Marvin is married to composer/soprano Deborah Kavasch.



  • Farewell, for soprano, contralto, English horn & harp, premiered 2007
  • Three Songs, for soprano and orchestra, 2005
  • Abstract Mix¸ for wind ensemble, 2005
  • Tapestry, for oboe d’amore, viola and piano, premiered 2004
  • Quintet for Winds, premiered at the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, 2003
  • Ophélie, for solo soprano, SSATB choir and piano, premiered at CSU Stanislaus, 2003
  • Ophelia is Mad, for soprano and virtual orchestra, premiered at CSU Stanislaus, 2003
  • Triptych, for clarinet and wind ensemble, premiered at CSU Stanislaus, 2003
  • Toccata, for carillon, premiered Texas Tech University, 2003
  • Nocturne, for piano, premiered at CSU Stanislaus, 2002
  • Mélange, for percussion ensemble, premiered at CSU Stanislaus, 2002
  • Music from the Night, for two oboes and English horn, premiered at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, 2000.  
    Recorded by members of the San Francisco Symphony, Fish Creek Music, FCM CD102, 2002
  • Octet for Winds (1982—revised 1995), premiered at Davies Symphony Hall by members of the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco, 1998.
  • An die Musik, for soprano, violin, ‘cello and harp, first reading at the Ernest Bloch Composers’ Symposium, July 1998
  • Three Studies for Carillon (1990), premiered in Los Angeles, 1993
  • Seven Dance Episodes, for solo piano and solo dancer, premiered at The Evergreen State College, May, 1989
  • Five pieces for English Horn and Piano, premiered at Old First Church, San Francisco, Sept   1989.  
    Recorded on Crystal Records, CD328, by Carolyn Hove, 1996; and by Julie Ann Giacobassi, Fish Creek Music, FCM CD102, 2002
  • Nocturne for Baritone and Piano Quintet, premiered at The Evergreen State College, 1991
  • Love Drew a Circle, dance music for ‘cellos, flutes and percussion, premiered at The Evergreen State College, 1992
  • Fantasia and Scherzo, for string quartet, premiered at The Evergreen State College, 1993

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