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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Michael Hennagin
(2012.201.B0256.0067, photo by S. Sisney, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).

HENNAGIN, MICHAEL (1936–1993).

Composer of twentieth-century classical music Michael Hennagin was born in The Dalles, Oregon, on September 17, 1936. He studied at Los Angeles City College, at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1963, and with Aaron Copeland at Tanglewood. Hennagin also studied electronic music at Southern Illinois University in 1968. His teaching career began in public schools in the mid-1960s and continued at Kansas State Teachers College from 1966 to 1972.

He served as the University of Oklahoma's composer-in-residence and professor of music theory and composition from 1972 to 1991. His work included music for chorus, piano, chamber orchestra, and band. That he composed in a variety of modern, rather than traditional, styles places him in company with other Oklahoma twentieth-century composers of "new music," including Ray Luke of Oklahoma City University and Samuel Magrill of the University of Central Oklahoma. Like them, he was rewarded by having his music performed publicly in Oklahoma and also in national venues.

Hennagin's compositions include the ballet The Barren Song (1968), the symphonic essay A Summer Overture (1963), the chamber piece Four Etudes for Clarinet Choir (1978), Dance Scene (1977), and Jubilee (1967), which remains a staple for college bands. Proud Music, a choral-orchestral work derived from a Walt Whitman poem, was composed in 1993 and performed that summer by the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute.

Ten times from 1976 through 1992 ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) accorded Hennagin its Annual Award recognizing the quality and performance record of original works by American composers. He was named Oklahoma Musician of the Year in 1975 and National Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association in 1976. He also wrote scores for motion-picture, television, and stage productions. Michael Hennagin died unexpectedly June 4, 1993, in Norman. Daily Oklahoman music critic Rick Rogers noted that his death "robbed the music world of a significant talent."

Dianna Everett


Ruth E. Anderson, Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary (2d ed.; Boston: G. K. Hall and Co., 1982).

Rick Rogers, "Composers Ever-Changing," Rick Rogers, "Festival Captures Composer's Spirit," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 8 October 1993.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Hennagin, Michael,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=HE014.

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