ROGERS, JAMES HOTCHKISS (7 Feb. 1857-28 Nov. 1940), composer, music critic, organist, and teacher, was born in Fair Haven, Conn., son of Martin L. and Harriett. Hotchkiss began piano lessons at 12 and organ lessons later, and studied in Europe from 1875-80. In 1883, Rogers moved to Cleveland, becoming organist at Euclid Ave. Temple (see ANSHE CHESED), playing until his retirement in 1932. He was also organist for Shaker Hts. Neighborhood Church and First Unitarian Church. Rogers was music critic for the PLAIN DEALER from 1915-32. It was said Rogers was never harsh; even when Isadora Duncan danced in an outrageous red costume in 1922, Rogers simply wrote, "all things considered, the orchestra did very well." Rogers explained his role was not to discourage but rather to encourage and advise.
Rogers composed over 550 works: over 50 compositions for the organ, 5 cantatas, over 130 songs, and instruction books for both piano and organ. His composing style was late Romantic and tended toward the sentimental. "In Memoriam," a 6-song cycle centering on Walt Whitman's poems, was written for his son, Henry, who was killed in WORLD WAR I. In 1946, the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA dedicated a program to Rogers, and a portrait, painted by Mary Seymour Brooks, was presented to the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Rogers taught at the Cleveland School of Music. Upon his retirement, he was honored by 500 musicians and friends at a farewell dinner. He moved to Pasadena, Calif., where he died. Rogers married Alice Abigail Hall on 20 Oct. 1891 and had 2 children, Stewart and Marian. He was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.
Alexander, J. Heywood. It Must Be Heard (1981).