Matthew

American Classical Music

16 posts in this topic

I feel this urge to begin to listen to American Classical Composers. I've heard of Charles Ives & Arron Copeland, but outside of those two, not anyone else. Where should I begin so I can begin to build up a good music library of American composers?

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A subject near and dear to my heart. I'll do a little thinking about the subject, and post more to this thread soon.

I'll start by saying that there is a relatively new and EXCELLENT series of CD's on the Naxos label, devoted entirely to American composers. And since it's Naxos, all the CD's are available very inexpensively, usually $7 or $8 per CD, at most. I own probably 60%-75% of what's been released in the series already (probably about 30 discs), and nearly every one is a winner.

Some quick names to throw at you...

Arthur Foote, a Boston composer from the late 1800's spanning into the early 1900's. An excellent composer of chamber music, much in the style of Brahms, but somehow with an American flair. Three string quartets, a piano quartet, a piano quintet, and two piano trios -- all of which are excellent. (My wife and I had the scherzos from all three of his string quartets played at our wedding, as prelude and/or postlude music.)

Oh, gotta run. I'll post several more names later...

One more, quick... Carl Ruggles!!!

And another - Samuel Barber!!! (His concertos and symphonies are all pretty incredible neo-romantic works.)

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GERSHWIN Edited by vibes

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Rooster beat me to recommending Barber. No doubt you've heard his "Adagio for Strings" and probably didn't even know it. That piece is often overused on movie soundtracks and can be found in the opening moments of PLATOON, for example.

Let us not forget Gershwin, when mentioning American composers!

And if you really want to push the envelope there's always John Cage....

If I mention Philip Glass I might get flamed, but here goes: Philip Glass!

Oh, and Leonard Bernstein did a lot of worthwhile work that he always felt deserved more recognition. I personally think that the music in WEST SIDE STORY is some of the most beautiful ever done for the American stage.

Edited by The Mule

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Not easy music by any means, Elliott Carter is my favorite. You can ease into him via a couple Nonesuch discs, then move on to the string quartets and more recent stuff on DG.

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I like Edgar Meyer's stuff. There's an album of Meyer and Bottesini concertos for double bass that I think is quite good. Also an album under Hillary Hahn's name of Meyer and Barber violin concertos that I've listened to many times. Both are on Sony classical.

Edit: Just so you know, Edgar's music is in the Americana vein, but with just enough dissonance to keep things moving.

Edited by Joe G

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Not easy music by any means, Elliott Carter is my favorite.

Getting slightly off track (the composer I’m about to mention isn’t an American)...

Hey Chuck!! - by any chance, are you also a fan of Hans Werner Henze (b. 1926, German)???

I'm not nearly as up on Carter as I should be (I can never seem to find anything of his in stock anywhere, and I have to confess that I just haven’t made the effort to get his stuff on-line). A friend of mine is a Henze nut (and so am I), and he keeps recommending Carter to me, on the basis of my Henze fanaticism.

=====

Getting back on topic, another American 'classical' composer I really love is...

Roger Sessions - perhaps the greatest serial composer of the middle part of the last century. His symphonies keep me coming back, again and again and again. Difficult stuff to get one's ears around, but not at all just "noisy, for the sake of being noisy".

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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George Crumb. The series on Bridge Records is fantastic!

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What Rooster Said about the Naxos label!!! Check them out.

Here's some names:

Carl Ruggles

Charles Tomlinson Griffes

Conlan Nancarrow (he lived the last five decades of his life in Mexico, but still counts as an American composer in my book)

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Hey Chuck!! - by any chance, are you also a fan of Hans Werner Henze (b. 1926, German)???

I have/had all the Henze symphonies and he doesn't really move me. If there is something else I should know, please tell.

I can't believe I forgot to mention a great, cheap Carter disc on the Arte Nova label. This disc combines his Concerto for Orchestra with the Piano Concerto, played by Ursula Oppens (Julius Hemphill's "partner").

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Hovhaness is cool. Forgot about him.

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I have/had all the Henze symphonies and he doesn't really move me. If there is something else I should know, please tell.

l030634r59u.jpg

Henze - Requiem: 9 sacred concertos, for piano, trumpet & orchestra

Sony/58972 (first recorded in late 1993, written between 1990-93)

with the Ensemble Modern

Ueli Wiget: piano

Hakan Hardenberger: trumpet

And you know... - I think I see this recording in your very near future, Chuck. ;)

fredtell.jpg

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A subject near and dear to my heart.  I'll do a little thinking about the subject, and post more to this thread soon.

I'll start by saying that there is a relatively new and EXCELLENT series of CD's on the Naxos label, devoted entirely to American composers.  And since it's Naxos, all the CD's are available very inexpensively, usually $7 or $8 per CD, at most.  I own probably 60%-75% of what's been released in the series already (probably about 30 discs), and nearly every one is a winner.

This "American Classics" series by Naxos has been a good place for me to start, plus the price is right. I picked up Howard Hanson, Arron Copeland, and George Whitefield Chadwick. It's interesting to pick up music that I have no idea what it's going to sound like, but the first three have been enjoyable. Looking forward to new adventures in music.

Edited by Matthew

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I'd recommend reading MUSIC IN A NEW FOUND LAND by Wilfrid Mellers, a good overview of US Classical (up to forty years ago).

Very good advice from Mr. Gitin - but it is manditory you argue with him. Intellectual pursuits ain't 'sposed to be easy. If they were, we'd all be geniuses.

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...and George Whitefield Chadwick.

If it's the disc of Chadwick's chamber music, then I must say that it's a really winner in my book. One of the best of the series, IMHO. Very solid, and well within the same ballpark as, say, Brahms - though clearly there's something else going on there too. And, it would even be a bargin at twice the price!! :g

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