1917 - 1995
Ulysses Kay, the nephew of the classic jazz musician King Oliver, attended the University of Arizona, where he was encouraged by the African-American composer William Grant Still. He went for graduate work to the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and there worked under Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. Kay met Paul Hindemith at the Berkshire Music Center and studied with him from 1941 to 1942.
After serving as United States Navy musician during World War II, Kay studied at Columbia University under Otto Luening with the assistance of a grant from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. In addition to this prize, Kay received several significant awards following his discharge from the Navy including the Alice M. Ditson Fellowship, a grant from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award from the American Composers and American Broadcasting Company, an award from the third annual George Gershwin Memorial Contest for A Short Overture, and an award from the American Composers Alliance for his Suite for Orchestra. He lived and studied further in Rome from 1949 to 1953 thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship, the Rome Prize and a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship.
Kay worked for BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) from 1953 to 1968. In 1968 he was appointed distinguished professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York, where he taught for two decades.