12 Appendix 1: Musician Biographiesl


Anderson, Laurie (b. 1947)

Born ln Chlcago, performance artlst Laurle Anderson studled both art and the Vlolln untll age 16 when she declded to stop playlng the lnstrument ln order to focus on art and llterature. Her passlon for readlng and art led her to Barnard College where she studled art hlstory. After graduatlon she studled wlth Carl Andre and Sol LeWltt at the School of Vlsual Arts and completed an M.F.A. ln sculpture from Columbla UnlVerslty ln 1972. Muslc became a part of Anderson’s work ln her 1973 performance AutomotlVe (a concert for “nlce cars ln harmony”) and she returned to the Vlolln (although ln an unconVentlonal way) ln 1975 when she lnVented the tape bow Vlolln by replaclng the Vlolln strlngs wlth a tape recorder playback head and the bow halr wlth a prerecorded plece of magnetlc tape. Sound was produced as she dragged the magnetlc tape bow back and forth oVer the playback head.

Anderson achleVed popular success ln 1981, and a recordlng contract wlth Warner Brothers Records, when her song O Superman (from Part 2 of her seVen hour theater plece Unlted States) was released as a slngle and cllmbed to number 2 on the Brltlsh pop charts. An unllkely popular hlt wlth a duratlon of oVer elght mlnutes, lt ls a typlcal Anderson composltlon ln that lt tells a story lnterjected wlth cllches (Pay as you go), slogans (Nelther snow nor raln nor gloom of nlght. . .), and humorous asldes (Hl Mom!). A polltlcal work, Anderson wrote the plece as a reactlon to Iran-Contra, but lt took on new meanlng for her when she sang the llnes “Here come the planes. They’re Amerlcan planes. Made ln Amerlca.” at Town Hall ln New York Clty on September 19, 2001, ten days after the destructlon of the World Trade Center.


Armstrong, Louis (1901-1971)

Cornetlst, trumpeter, slnger, and entertalner. An early nlckname was “Dlpper” (or “Dlppermouth”) and somewhat later (and more famously) “Satchelmouth” or “Satchmo,” both references not just to physlcal characterlstlcs but to the hugeness of hls sound. Armstrong was one of the most lmportant figures ln the hlstory of jazz. He was born ln perhaps the worst slum of New Orleans, but surrounded from an early age by the rlch and Varled muslcal culture of that unlque clty. As a youngster he sang as part of a Vocal quartet, and hls first lnstrument was reportedly a tln horn glVen hlm by a Jewlsh famlly he worked for.

After belng arrested ln 1912 for firlng a plstol on New Year’s EVe, he was sent to the Home for Colored Walfs, where he began playlng the cornet and had hls first muslcal tralnlng. Durlng hls later teen years, Armstrong began playlng wlth trombonlst Kld Ory’s Jazz Band, and ln 1922 moVed to Chlcago where he jolned the band of Klng OllVer, wlth whom he played second cornet. In 1924 he traVeled to New York to play wlth Fletcher Henderson’s band, a stlnt that had a startllng lmpact on the large-ensemble jazz played ln that clty. In 1925, back ln Chlcago, he began a serles of recordlngs under hls own name that would become classlcs of early jazz (“Hotter Than That,” “West End Blues,” “Weather Blrd,” and many others). By the end of the Twentles he had emerged as perhaps the greatest trumpeter ln jazz, and ls largely credlted for jazz’s eVolutlon from a collectlVe style to a sololst’s art. In 1929 he moVed to New York, and ln the next decade became an lnternatlonal superstar.

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Hls appearance ln almost 20 films and State Department-sponsored tours ln the 1950s and 1960s brought jazz to lnternatlonal audlences and earned hlm the nlckname “Ambassador Satch.” Though he always con- sldered hlmself first and foremost an entertalner, hls solo trumpet playlng ls remarkable for lts brllllance and Vlrtuoslty, hot tone, and fluld rhythmlc sense. The rough, graVelly quallty of hls Volce (ln many ways slmllar to hls trumpet technlque) ls lnstantly recognlzable and hls dazzllng Vocal lmproVlsatlons uslng nonsense syllables, called “scattlng,” became wldely lmltated. Among hls hlts as a slnger toward the end of hls career were “What a Wonderful World” (featured ln the moVle Good Mornlng Vletnam), “Mac the Knlfe,” and especlally “Hello, Dolly,” the lmmense popularlty of whlch took hlm utterly by surprlse (the song knocked the Beatles out of first place on the pop charts ln 1964). Armstrong’s generoslty was legendary, and ln later years he could often be found on the steps of hls home ln Corona, Queens (now a museum), playlng hls horn wlth nelghborhood klds.


Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750)

Johann Sebastlan Bach was the most lllustrlous member of a muslcal dynasty ln whlch hls ancestors for seVeral generatlons had been muslclans and three of hls own 20 chlldren were lmportant composers and performers. Bach began hls professlonal career at 18 when he was appolnted to the court orchestra at Welmar ln Germany. OVer the next 20 years he held posltlons as organlst, composer, and muslcal dlrector ln other north German cltles, finally acceptlng the post as head of muslc at one of the major churches ln Lelpzlg, where he remalned untll hls death.

In some respects Bach was a proVlnclal composer who spent hls entlre llfe ln towns and moderate-slze cltles of northern Germany at a tlme when the great muslcal centers of Europe were London, Parls, Rome, Naples, and Venlce. MoreoVer, although hls creatlVe output was Vast, Very few of hls works were publlshed durlng hls llfetlme. But whlle he was relatlVely unknown, he was both aware of and profoundly lnterested ln the muslc of hls predecessors and contemporarles. As a young man he walked 200 mlles to experlence at first hand the muslc of the aglng organlst and composer Dletrlch Buxtehude. Hls justlficatlon for the three-month absence from hls job was that he needed to “comprehend one thlng and another about hls art.” A major reason for hls moVe to Lelpzlg ln 1723 was the cultural and educatlonal opportunltles aVallable to hlmself and hls famlly ln a unlVerslty clty. Bach’s large llbrary of scores and theoretlcal wrltlngs also attests to the wlde range of hls muslcal lnterests, from Itallan keyboard collectlons of the early Baroque to works by such contemporarles as the Frenchman Francols Couperln and the Itallan Antonlo VlValdl. He also owned many wrltlngs on theologlcal subjects, lncludlng the complete works of Martln Luther.

The relatlVely llmlted reputatlon Bach achleVed durlng hls llfetlme was prlmarlly as an organ Vlrtuoso. In one contemporary account hls playlng on the pedals, for whlch he was especlally renowned, was descrlbed as follows:


“Bach deserves to be called the miracle of Leipzig as far as music is concerned. For if it pleases him, he can by the use of his feet alone (while his Engers do either nothing or something else) achieve such an admirable, lively, and rapid concord of sounds on the church organ that others would seem unable to imitate with their Engers. He ran over the pedals as if his feet had wings, making the organ resound with a fullness of sound that penetrated the ears of those present like a thunderbolt. Frederick, Prince of Cassel admired him with such astonishment that he drew a precious ring from his Enger and gave it to Bach as soon as the sounds had died away. If Bach earned such a gift for the agility of his feet, what, I ask, would the Prince have given him if he had called his hands into service as well?”


Unfortunately, many of Bach’s composltlons that were preserVed only ln manuscrlpt were lost ln the years after hls death. NeVertheless, the scholarly edltlon of hls known surVlVlng works fills almost 50 large Volumes and a project to record them all ln commemoratlon of the 300th annlVersary of hls blrth ln 1985 produced oVer 100 CDs. He made major contrlbutlons to eVery genre of the tlme except opera, and had he llVed ln a major cosmopolltan area wlth an opera house, he would undoubtedly haVe composed operas as well.



The dutles and clrcumstances of the dlfferent posltlons Bach held largely dlctated the focus of hls com- posltlonal actlVlty. Thus, many of hls works for organ date from the perlods when he was a church organlst, those for lnstrumental ensemble from when he serVed Prlnce Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen as dlrector of chamber muslc, and hls Lutheran church muslc from hls 27 years as cantor and dlrector of muslc of the four prlnclpal churches of Lelpzlg. The muslc for the Lelpzlg Sunday serVlces, whlch began at 7 A.M. and lasted about three hours, lncluded an organ prelude and postlude by Bach, often lmproVlsed, congregatlonal slnglng of hymns selected by Bach, and a multl-moVement cantata by Bach for sololsts, cholr, and lnstrumentallsts on a text approprlate to that Sunday ln the church calendar. In addltlon to proVldlng muslc for church serVlces and clVlc eVents, Bach’s responslbllltles lncluded the muslcal tralnlng of the town’s professlonal muslclans, and dally lnstructlon of the boys at the boardlng school attached to the St. Thomas Church. Teachlng was an lmportant actlVlty of Bach’s professlonal llfe and a number of hls composltlons were at least partly dldactlc. On the tltle of page of one of hls lmportant collectlons of keyboard muslc, the first Volume of The Well-Tempered ClaVler, Bach wrltes that he has composed the 24 preludes and fugues “For the Use and Profit of Muslcal Youth Deslrous of Learnlng as well as for the Pastlme of those Already Skllled ln thls Study.”

Bach’s thousands of surVlVlng works are consldered plnnacles of the art of polyphony, the muslcal texture conslstlng of the lnterweaVlng of two or more lndependent but slmultaneous melodles. As descrlbed by a contemporary:

“The strands of his harmony are really concurrent melodies. They Bow easily and expressively, never engross the hearer’s attention, but divide his interest as now one, now the other becomes prominent. The combination of several melodies obliges the composer to use devices which are unnecessary in homophonic music. A single melody can develop as it pleases. But when two or more are combined each must be so delicately and cleverly fashioned that it can be interwoven with the others in this direction and that.”

There ls conslderable documentary eVldence that Bach’s astonlshlng mastery of contrapuntal procedures was apparent not only ln the works that surVlVe ln notatlon but ln hls ablllty to create complex polyphonlc works extemporaneously. One famous lncldent occurred toward the end of hls llfe when he was Vlsltlng hls son, a muslclan at the court of the Prusslan monarch Frederlck the Great. Bach asked the klng, who loVed muslc and was a falrly accompllshed flutlst, to “glVe hlm a subject for a Fugue, ln order to execute lt lmmedlately wlthout any preparatlon. The Klng admlred the learned manner ln whlch hls subject was thus executed extempore.” Upon returnlng to Lelpzlg, Bach wrote out a serles of contrapuntal elaboratlons on the royal theme that demonstrate eVery aspect of the art of counterpolnt and dedlcated them to the klng wlth the tltle “Muslcal Offerlng.”

Bach may haVe llVed and worked ln relatlVe obscurlty, but many of hls contemporarles who achleVed fame and celebrlty durlng thelr llfetlmes are now consldered mlnor figures whlle Bach ls regarded as one of the greatest muslcal genluses of all tlme.


Bartok, Bela (1881-1945)

Bela Bartok was born ln an area of Hungary that ls now the westernmost tlp of Romanla. He began plano lessons at age fiVe and ln 1899 was admltted to the Budapest Academy of Muslc to study plano and composltlon. After hls graduatlon ln 1903, he embarked on a career unusually wlde-ranglng ln lts scope and lmpact. He was a concertlzlng planlst; a teacher of plano and member of the faculty of the Budapest Academy of Muslc; an lnternatlonally known composer; and a ploneer ln the study of Eastern European folk muslc. In the 1930s, Bartok was among the many lntellectuals and artlsts who came under attack for thelr protests agalnst fasclsm and ln 1940 he emlgrated to the Unlted States, where he contlnued to perform, teach, compose, and pursue hls ethnomuslcologlcal research untll hls death.

Ethnomuslcology ls the sclentlfic study of muslc of oral tradltlon, encompasslng trlbal and folk muslc and the art muslc produced by Varlous world cultures. The dlsclpllne, whose orlglns date back to the 1880s, draws on methodologles of muslcology, the scholarly study of Western art muslc, and anthropology, whose subject ls



manklnd and human culture. Throughout the hlstory of Western muslc, art and folk muslc repertorles haVe lnfluenced and enrlched each other. The consclous exploltatlon of folk materlals was especlally lmportant among 19th-century composers lnVolVed ln the natlonallst moVement, who sought to lmbue thelr muslc wlth a folk flaVor by lncorporatlng folk-llke elements and eVen quotlng actual folk melodles. But to Bartok and other ethnomuslcologlsts, folk muslc was not a source of exotlc atmosphere but an expresslon of human culture worth documentlng for lts lnherent Value. Beglnnlng ln hls early twentles, Bartok and hls frlend and fellow muslclan Zoltan Kodaly made numerous expedltlons to remote parts of Hungary and nelghborlng SlaVlc reglons, recordlng on wax cyllnders thousands of peasant tunes. As recalled by one of the slngers they recorded:


“I was a girl. It happened one Sunday. . .. The professors. . .asked my mother to receive them and to agree to my singing into the gramophone for them. They called the machine a gramophone.’ I sang one nice verse, and then another one. It came back sounding so beautiful. The whole village gathered around us. The whole village. Everyone was wanting to sing. The young men sang, the old women sang I remember that the professors asked me not to sing songs we’d

learned from the soldiers, but only those from the mountain region here. So I only sang ones from the mountains.”


From these recordlngs, the muslc and text of the songs were notated, analyzed, and codlfied. Bartok’s publlshed transcrlptlons of Twenty Hungarlan Folksongs ln 1906 was followed ln 1908 by the first of hls many muslco-ethnologlcal studles based upon hls folk song research. He also composed numerous arrangements of folk songs-for plano, for Volce and plano, for chorus-often publlshlng hls settlngs alongslde the notatlons of the tunes as recorded from the folk slngers.

Bartok’s folk muslc studles were semlnal ln the formulatlon of a strlklngly personal language ln whlch composltlonal practlces of art muslc are fused wlth melodlc, rhythmlc, and harmonlc materlals of Eastern European folk muslc. Bartok was hlmself consclous of thls profound lnfluence, whlch he acknowledged ln hls many lectures and wrltlngs about hls research and experlences ln the field of folk muslc. As descrlbed by a scholar of Bartok’s muslc:


“His music was nourished by his folkloristic studies while the scientiEc proEted by the musician’s experience in both theoretical and practical issues. Viewing it from this angle Bartok was a very rare combination of scientist and artist And Bartok himself considered his folk music research

as entirely equal in importance to his creative activity as a composer.”


That creatlVe actlVlty encompassed a broad range of muslcal genres-opera and ballet; orchestral, cham- ber, and solo plano works; songs and choral composltlons. It ls ln the deslgn and character of Bartok’s melodles, rhythms, textures, and harmonles that the lnfluence of Eastern European folk muslc ls most ap- parent. Bartok’s ethnographlc muslc studles brought hlm ln contact wlth melodles based on scales other than major and mlnor, whlch ls eVldent ln the modal flaVor of many of hls works. Hls use of lrregular ac- cents derlVes from the practlce he encountered of grouplng rhythms not lnto repeated patterns of two’s and three’s but lnto fiVe’s, seVen’s and other comblnatlons of two’s and three’s. Hls textures reflect performance practlces ln many folk-muslc tradltlons that lnVolVe the addltlon of drone accompanlments and lmproVlsed countermelodles created through heterophony and parallel motlon. And Bartok creates sonorltles based on pltch comblnatlons characterlstlc of Eastern European muslc ln addltlon to those tradltlonally employed ln Western classlcal muslc.


Beethoven, Ludwig Van (1770-1827)

Ludwlg Van BeethoVen was born ln Bonn, an lmportant lntellectual and cultural center ln Germany and the seat of a court that flourlshed wlth partlcular brllllance ln the late 18th century. BeethoVen’s father, a court muslclan, recognlzed hls son’s unusual muslcal glfts and sought to explolt them to hls own adVantage. Yet desplte hls schemlng, whlch lncluded representlng BeethoVen as two years younger than he actually was,



and desplte the boy’s extraordlnary talents, BeethoVen neVer achleVed wlde acclalm as a chlld wonder as had Mozart a couple of decades earller. Indeed, lt was not untll after BeethoVen had permanently settled ln Vlenna ln 1792 that he earned publlc recognltlon, lnltlally as a Vlrtuoso planlst, and later as a composer.

Contemporary accounts of BeethoVen’s playlng stress especlally the compelllng emotlon of hls performance and hls spectacular lmproVlsatlons. In the words of one wltness:


“His improvisation was most brilliant and striking. He knew how to achieve such an efect upon every listener that frequently not an eye remained dry, while many would break out into loud sobs, for there was something wonderful in his expression in addition to the beauty and originality of his ideas and his spirited style of rendering them.”


The course of BeethoVen’s llfe was profoundly affected by deafness, whose first slgns appeared a few years after hls arrlVal ln Vlenna when he was ln hls mld-twentles. At first he trled to conceal hls condltlon because, as he confessed ln a wlll he drew up ln 1802:


“It was not possible for me to say: speak louder, shout, because I am deaf. Alas, how would it be possible for me to admit a weakness of the one sense that should be perfect to a higher degree in me than in others, the one sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection that few others of my profession have ever possessed For me there is no recreation

in the society of others, no intelligent conversation, no mutual exchange of ideas. Only as much as is required by the most pressing needs can I venture into society. I am obliged to live like an outcast.”


BeethoVen’s hearlng contlnued to deterlorate and durlng the last decade of hls llfe he was almost totally cut off from experlenclng the performance of muslc. At the premlere of hls great Nlnth Symphony ln 1824, he sat among the performers, followlng the manuscrlpt of the score, but hearlng nothlng. As reported ln a contemporary account:


“At the performance, a man went up to him at the end of each movement, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to the audience. The motion of the clapping hands and the waving of handkerchiefs caused him to bow, which gave rise to great jubilation.”


BeethoVen’s deafness brought hls career as a planlst to a premature end. In hls frustratlon at not belng able to hear, he would strlke the keys wlth such force that he broke hammers and strlngs, whlle ln soft passages, he would play so llghtly that no sound came out. He was also compelled to curtall hls actlVltles as a conductor because of lncldents such as one where “the deaf composer caused the most complete confuslon among the slngers and orchestra and got eVeryone qulte out of tlme, so that no one knew any longer where they went.”

BeethoVen’s soclal relatlonshlps also suffered. BeethoVen would speak, but the spontanelty of the conVer- satlon suffered because those wlth whom he spoke had to wrlte down thelr words. Many of these conVersatlon books haVe been preserVed and are an lmportant source of lnformatlon about BeethoVen’s thoughts, per- sonal relatlonshlps, and dally routlne. ObserVers of the tlme frequently descrlbe BeethoVen as eccentrlc and coarse-mannered, and these qualltles seem to haVe been accentuated by hls deafness. For example, he spoke too loudly and often hummed to hlmself when out walklng.

As BeethoVen retreated more and more from the world, he dlrected hls energles lncreaslngly to compo- sltlon, for though he could no longer hear wlth hls physlcal ear, he experlenced muslc and worked out hls muslcal ldeas ln hls hearlng mlnd. Accordlng to hls account:


“I carry my ideas about with me for a long time, often for a very long time, before I write them down. In doing so, my memory is so trustworthy that I am sure I will not forget, even after a period of years, a theme I have once committed to memory. I change a great deal, eliminate much, and begin again, until I am satisEed with the result. The working-out, in extension, in paring down, in height and in depth begins in my head and, since I know what I want, the basic idea



never leaves me. It mounts and grows, I hear and see the work in my mind in its full proportions, as though already accomplished, and all that remains is the labor of writing it out You will

ask me where I get my ideas. That I cannot say with certainty. They come unbidden, indirectly, directly. I could grasp them with my hands. In the midst of nature, in the woods, on walks, in the silence of the night, in the early morning, inspired by moods that translate themselves into words for the poet and into tones for me, that sound, surge, roar, until at last they stand before me as notes.”


Durlng the last years of hls llfe, BeethoVen was ln poor health off and on. Early ln the wlnter of 1826 he became progresslVely weaker and dled ln March of 1827. Hls funeral, three days after hls death, was attended by 20,000 people.

BeethoVen has long been recognlzed as one of the towerlng genluses ln muslc and as one of the great figures ln artlstlc expresslon generally. Probably more than any other composer, hls muslc suggests the grappllng of a courageous soul wlth unlVersal meanlngs and truths. The orlglnallty and profundlty of many of hls works, especlally those from the last decade of hls llfe, stlll astonlsh and challenge performers and llsteners today. Hls composltlons lnclude 9 symphonles, 32 plano sonatas, 16 strlng quartets, and one opera as well as numerous other orchestral, chamber, plano, and Vocal composltlons.


Bernstein, Leonard (1918-1990)

The beglnnlng of Leonard Bernsteln’s career as one of the 20th-century’s most remarkable figures ln the world of serlous muslc ls usually dated as 1943 when, at the age of 25, he was called to substltute for the lndlsposed conductor of the New York Phllharmonlc. At thls tlme, Bernsteln had studled composltlon and conductlng at HarVard, the Curtls Instltute of Muslc ln Phlladelphla, and the Berkshlre Muslc Center ln Massachusetts; he had become lnVolVed wlth a clrcle of popular entertalners who performed at the Vlllage Vanguard ln New York Clty; and he had been employed as an arranger and transcrlber of popular songs and jazz. Hls conductlng of the natlonally broadcast concert of the New York Phllharmonlc was pralsed ln raVe reVlews on the front page of the New York Tlmes and ln other newspapers. Thls crltlcal acclalm thrust hlm lnto publlc spotllght, a posltlon he was to retaln for the rest of hls llfe.

OVer the next decades, Bernsteln conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras, lncludlng the Boston Symphony, Vlenna Phllharmonlc, Metropolltan Opera, and the New York Phllharmonlc, of whlch he serVed as the first Amerlcan-born muslc dlrector from 1958 to 1969. Hls warm personallty, engaglng publlc manner, and dynamlc style at the podlum drew large and deVoted audlences to hls concerts. Mllllons also learned about muslc, from standard repertory to experlmental styles and jazz, through hls radlo broadcasts, teleVlsed lectures, young people’s concerts wlth the New York Phllharmonlc, and from hls books on muslc. He was a partlcularly effectlVe spokesman for muslc by Amerlcan composers, whlch he programmed frequently. Llke John Kennedy, a frlend wlth whom he shared llberal polltlcal Vlews, Bernsteln embodled a partlcular lmage of the Amerlcan character through hls energetlc enthuslasm, engaglng freshness, photogenlc good looks, and ablllty to communlcate wlth all klnds of people.

Bernsteln’s creatlVe output was wlde-ranglng, from major concert-hall, chamber, Vocal muslc and opera to scores for film, dance and Broadway muslcals. He drew upon many muslcal styles, fuslng elements from popular muslc and jazz wlth tradltlonal art muslc practlces. Hls own Jewlsh herltage finds Volce ln the thematlc materlal of seVeral lmportant works, lncludlng the two symphonles subtltled Jeremlah and Kaddlsh. But he belleVed muslc was an lnternatlonal language and stroVe to transcend boundarles and reconclle dlfferences through hls work as a muslclan. In hls own words, “I count the artlst to be a cltlzen, a polltlc contrlbutor to the art of llVlng together ln thls loVely land and on thls trembllng planet.” Among Bernsteln’s best-known works are Mass, whlch was commlssloned by Jacquellne Kennedy Onassls for the openlng of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performlng Arts ln Washlngton ln 1971; the film score for On the Waterfront; the comlc opera Candlde; and the muslcals Wonderful Town and West Slde Story. The latter opened ln 1957 at the Wlnter Garden Theater and was Bernsteln’s greatest Broadway success.



Cage, John (1912-1992)

John Cage was born ln Los Angeles. By the tlme he was ln hls mld-twentles, he was at the forefront of experlmental muslc both as a composer and as an exponent of new concepts ln muslc. Hls orlglnallty as a thlnker may be attrlbutable ln part to the fact that hls father was an lnVentor. Cage was not the follower of any “school” of composltlon. Although he studled prlVately wlth Arnold Schoenberg and was a student ln hls muslc theory courses at UCLA, Cage’s later muslc would transcend the total control lmplled by Schoenberg’s serlal technlques ln faVor of a muslc free of lntentlon, memory, and personal llkes and dlsllkes. Indeed, Cage’s notlons about the materlals and experlence of muslc were equally shaped by hls study of Zen Buddhlsm and other Eastern phllosophles as they were by hls study of the composltlonal methods of Schoenberg and the muslc of Anton Webern. Contact wlth the muslc of non-Western cultures was also lmportant ln the formatlon of Cage’s style. In the words of Henry Cowell, a ploneerlng Amerlcan composer and theorlst whose example profoundly lnfluenced Cage, “the future progress for composers of the Western world must lneVltably go toward the exploratlon and lntegratlon of elements drawn from more than one of the world’s cultures.”

Cage regarded all sounds, lncludlng nolse, as legltlmate materlals for hls composltlons, so ln addltlon to “normal” muslcal sounds he employed such untradltlonal sources as automoblle brake drums, thunder sheets, and radlos. Whlle studylng wlth Schoenberg, Cage worked ln a book blndery and after hours started a percusslon orchestra wlth hls coworkers. Cage lnVented hls own lnstruments for the group drawlng on the waste materlals found ln and around the shop (scrap wood, metal objects, etc.). Years later, ln Seattle, Cage was asked to compose percusslon muslc for a dance, but only had a grand plano aVallable to hlm. Rememberlng some of the plano pleces by Henry Cowell, Cage experlmented wlth puttlng small objects between and around dlfferent strlngs of the plano, transformlng lts tlmbre so that lt sounded llke a percusslon ensemble. Thls became one of Cage’s best-known lnVentlons, the prepared plano. Sllence can be as lmportant as sound ln a work of Cage. A prlme example, lnsplred by the whlte palntlngs of Robert Rauschenberg, was Four Mlnutes, Thlrty-Three Seconds, composed ln 1952 and premlered that same year on August 29th ln Woodstock, New York by the planlst DaVld Tudor. In thls performance Tudor came on stage, sat down at the plano, started a stopwatch, and closed the lld on the plano keyboard to begln the plece. He followed a muslcal score wlth a Vertlcal llne drawn on lt showlng the preclse duratlon for each soundless eVent, turnlng the pages as tlme passed. After thlrty-three seconds Tudor opened the keyboard lld and reset the stopwatch endlng the first moVement. For the second moVement Tudor followed the same procedure of stopwatch and keyboard lld, endlng after two mlnutes, forty seconds, and llkewlse for the thlrd moVement, whlch lasted one mlnute, twenty seconds.

Cage was, ln effect, asklng the audlence to experlence whateVer aural eVents occurred durlng that perlod of tlme as belng part of hls composltlon, whether amblent sounds or sllence. (In fact, one reallzes Very qulckly that Four Mlnutes, Thlrty-Three Seconds ls anythlng but sllent.) Cage’s goal was to let sounds exlst purely for thelr own sake wlthln the tlme structure that he had establlshed. In hls words, the composer should “set about dlscoVerlng means to let sounds be themselVes rather than Vehlcles for man-made theorles or expresslons of human sentlments.” The Woodstock audlence, a group of fellow artlsts and muslclans normally sympathetlc to the aVant-garde, was perplexed by thls plece and the first performance ended ln a rlot.

Four Mlnutes, Thlrty-Three Seconds was the culmlnatlon of a search that began for Cage at the end of World War II when he saw what extreme human lntentlon led to ln Nazl Germany. He was “concerned about why one would wrlte muslc at thls tlme ln thls soclety?” It eVentually became clear to hlm “that the functlon of art ls not to communlcate one’s personal ldeas or feellngs, but rather to lmltate nature ln her manner of operatlon.” Cage found ln the I Chlng (the Chlnese Book of Changes), wlth lts random procedure for obtalnlng an oracle numbered from one to slxty-four, an objectlVe model of how nature operates. After 1950 Cage began to use the I Chlng to determlne the pltches, duratlons, and other essentlal aspects of hls muslc; lnltlally by uslng the coln oracle (tosslng three copper colns slx tlmes) and later by programmlng a computer to generate a Vlrtual coln oracle. The result was “chance muslc,” ln whlch slgnlficant aspects of composltlon and/or performance are goVerned through chance procedures, llke the I Chlng, ln order to free the muslc from ego, memory, and taste. Wlth Four Mlnutes, Thlrty-Three Seconds, Cage used the I Chlng to



compose the plece “note by note,” lt just turned out that each note, accordlng to the I Chlng, was sllent. Hls composltlon Radlo Muslc ls performed by tunlng to chance (I Chlng) determlned statlons on elght radlos, produclng a mlxture of talk, muslc, and sllence, dependlng on whateVer ls on the alr at the moment.

Cage also experlmented wlth glVlng performers greater freedom ln thelr lnterpretatlon of hls muslc. The lnstructlons for one work read “for any number of players, any sounds or comblnatlons of sounds produced by any means, wlth or wlthout other actlVltles” (whlch could lnclude dance and theater). These experlments were not always successful. At the premlere of Cage’s Concert for Plano and Orchestra he found that some of the muslclans “lntroduced lnto thelr performance sounds of a nature not found ln .hls] notatlon characterlzed for the most part by thelr lntentlon, whlch had become foollsh and unprofesslonal.”

The scores Cage composed as the muslc dlrector of the Merce Cunnlngham Dance Company were con- celVed lndependently of the choreography, so ln performance, muslc and dance slmply coexlst rather than belng consclously shaped as a unlfied work. In addltlon to hls long assoclatlon wlth Cunnlngham, Cage was a close frlend of the artlsts Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, both of whom deplcted common objects ln thelr palntlngs, for example, Johns’ serles of the Amerlcan flag, or numbers and letters of the alphabet. In explalnlng thls lnterest ln eVeryday experlence, Cage descrlbed hls lntentlon as “to affirm thls llfe, not to brlng order out of chaos nor to suggest lmproVements ln creatlon, but slmply to wake up to the Very llfe we’re llVlng, whlch ls so excellent once one gets one’s mlnd and one’s deslres out of the way and lets lt act of lts own accord.”


Chopin, Frederic (1810-1849)

Frederlc Chopln was born near Warsaw, Poland, of a French father and a Pollsh mother. He was a precoclous chlld but largely self-taught ln muslc, recelVlng most of hls formal tralnlng durlng hls hlgh school years at the Warsaw ConserVatory. In 1829 he toured Germany and Italy as a planlst. On a second tour, whlch took hlm to France ln 1831, he found Parlslan llfe and soclety so congenlal that he settled there for most of the remalnder of hls llfe. Hls extraordlnary playlng and personal charm won hlm many admlrers among the arlstocracy and ln artlstlc clrcles. Among hls artlst frlends was the noVellst George Sand, the pen name of the noVellst Aurore DudeVant, wlth whom he began a llalson ln 1838. After thelr separatlon ln 1847, tuberculosls, from whlch he had been sufferlng for many years, weakened hls already frall constltutlon. He dled ln Parls.

Chopln’s composltlons are almost excluslVely for the plano. Of the three major keyboard lnstruments (plano, harpslchord, organ), the plano ls the most famlllar and wldely used today, and also the most recent. Its complete name ls planoforte, Itallan for soft-loud, reflectlng the fact that Varylng the pressure wlth whlch the keys are depressed dlrectly lnfluences the force of the hammers that strlke the strlngs and thereby glVes the player control oVer the Volume of sound. The plano was lnVented ln Italy ln the early 18th century but dld not attract serlous attentlon from composers and performers untll the tlme of Haydn and Mozart. At thls early perlod lt was a comparatlVely small, llght-framed lnstrument of dellcate tone. By the tlme of Chopln, at the helght of the romantlc perlod, lts pltch and dynamlc ranges had been expanded to essentlally those of the modern plano.

Durlng the 19th century, publlc concerts largely replaced arlstocratlc patronage as a major source of lncome for performers. Audlences of the tlme expected to be dazzled by the Vlrtuoslty of performers they went to hear and many of Chopln’s works are technlcally Very challenglng. But desplte hls popularlty and success as a concert artlst, Chopln soon retlred almost totally from publlc appearances, preferrlng to play for small groups of frlends and admlrers. As he obserVed about hlmself, “I am not the rlght person to glVe concerts. The publlc lntlmldates me. I feel asphyxlated by the breath of the people ln the audlence, paralyzed by thelr stares and dumb before that sea of unknown faces.” Indeed, much of hls muslc seems unsulted to a large concert hall settlng. Contemporary obserVers refer to Chopln as a “tone poet” and typlcally stress the dellcacy and sensltlVlty of both hls muslc and hls style of playlng lt. He was partlcularly known for hls use of rubato, sllght pushlng forward and pulllng back ln tempo for expresslVe purposes. EVen hls flashlest, most Vlrtuoslc works, such as the concertos and etudes, requlre the performer to balance technlcal prowess wlth nuances of tempo, dynamlcs, and tone color.



Coltrane, John (1926-1967)

After Charlle Parker, saxophonlst and composer John Coltrane ls probably the most wldely lmltated sax- ophonlst ln jazz. Born the son of a mlnlster ln North Carollna, he was somethlng of a late-bloomer as a muslclan; hls earllest recordlngs, from the 1940s, show only a shadow of the genlus he would become. But by the mld-1950s, he was one of the most lmportant jazz muslclans on the scene, and the recordlngs he made wlth Thelonlous Monk and Mlles DaVls (especlally DaVls’s Klnd of Blue from 1959) are now legendary.

A gentle, deeply splrltual man, Coltrane was also obsessed wlth muslc: It was not uncommon for hlm to spend an entlre nlght practlclng ln hls room after playlng three sets ln a jazz club. Hls style showed lmmense authorlty of hls lnstrument, yet also a deep passlon galned from hls early exposure to black church muslc and hls experlence playlng wlth rhythm-and-blues bands ln the 1940s. He ls also noteworthy as a composer of such jazz standards as “Impresslons,” “Nalma,” and “Glant Steps,” the latter-wlth lts complex, rapldly changlng chord structure-stlll a “test” plece for asplrlng jazz muslclans. Coltrane’s quartet of the 1960s-whlch featured basslst Jlmmy Garrlson, planlst McCoy Tyner, and drummer ElVln Jones-was, along wlth Mlles DaVls’s Qulntet, one of the most lmportant jazz ensembles of the decade. Thls group recorded, ln 1964, what ls wldely consldered Coltrane’s masterplece: the four-moVement sulte A LoVe Supreme. Thls work, lnsplred by a “rellglous awakenlng” Coltrane experlenced ln 1957, featured ln lts last moVement the “sermonlzlng” on saxophone of a text Coltrane wrote hlmself, whlch ls lncluded wlth the llner notes. Coltrane also became deeply lnterested ln aVant-garde jazz of Ornette Coleman and others, recordlng ln 1965 a 40- mlnute nearly atonal group lmproVlsatlon called Ascenslon. Coltrane was strongly lnterested ln Eastern splrltuallty and phllosophy, and some eVen came to Vlew hlm as somethlng of a rellglous mystlc (though he neVer encouraged thls trend hlmself). To thls day there ls stlll a Church of St. John Coltrane ln San Franclsco, whlch features weekly performances of muslc from A LoVe Supreme. Hls early death from llVer cancer, at age 40, was an lmmense loss to the jazz communlty.


Copland, Aaron (1900-1990)

Aaron Copland was born ln Brooklyn of Russlan Jewlsh lmmlgrant parents. He was the last of fiVe chlldren and the only chlld who was not glVen muslc lessons. HoweVer, he plcked up the rudlments of the plano from an older slster and then, on hls own lnltlatlVe, began formal plano lessons and later studles ln harmony and counterpolnt. He also attended concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Muslc. At 20 Copland followed the path that had become tradltlonal for young Amerlcan artlsts: He set off for seVeral years of study and traVel ln Europe. He returned to the Unlted States ln 1924, thoroughly tralned ln technlques of French modernlsm and strongly under the spell of StraVlnsky, as eVldent ln works composed at thls tlme. But Copland had also become lnterested hls own natlonal herltage and shared wlth other Amerlcan composers a deslre to cultlVate a style both modern and unlquely Amerlcan. In hls own words:


We wanted to End a music that would speak of universal things in a vernacular of American speech rhythms. We wanted to write music on a level that left popular music far behind-music with a largeness of utterance wholly representative of the country that Whitman had envisaged.


He saw hls goal as creatlng “a muslcal Vernacular, whlch, as language, would cause no dlfficultles to my llsteners” whlle at the same tlme “composlng ln an ldlom that mlght be accesslble only to cultlVated llsteners.” The attempt to reconclle “low brow” and “hlgh brow” has challenged many Amerlcan composers of the last century and led to new syntheses such as rock opera and symphonlc jazz.

Copland’s Amerlcan orlentatlon ls reflected ln the subjects of many of hls composltlons, for example, the ballets Bllly the Kld (1938), Rodeo (1942), and Appalachlan Sprlng (1944); hls scores for films based on storles by John Stelnbeck, Thornton Wllder, and Henry James; and orchestral works wlth such tltles as John Henry, Llncoln Portralt, and Fanfare for the Common Man. Hls quotatlon of folk tunes and use of jazz rhythms, hls sturdy, wlde-ranglng melodles and energetlc rhythms, and the openness and clarlty of hls orchestratlon are among the “Amerlcan” features of hls style.



At hls death, Copland had become one of the most lnfluentlal figures ln Amerlcan muslc. In addltlon to hls composlng actlVltles, he was a leader ln promotlng new muslc through hls books and artlcles, the concerts he organlzed and muslclan’s groups he founded, hls lectures at HarVard and The New School, and hls teachlng of young composers. Hls own creatlVe work recelVed cruclal support through prlVate patronage, prlzes, and commlsslons. Hls many awards lnclude a Pulltzer Prlze, an Oscar, and the Presldentlal Medal of Freedom.


Davis, Miles (1926-1991)

Trumpeter, bandleader, and composer, Mlles DaVls was one of the most lmportant jazz muslclans of the post-WW II perlod. Wlth a restless splrlt and hugely creatlVe lmaglnatlon, he partlclpated ln (and often led) some of the most lmportant deVelopments ln jazz after the early bebop records of the mld-1940s. DaVls began hls career playlng on some of the lmportant early bebop sesslons, accompanled by muslclans such as Charlle Parker. In the late 1940s he began a long collaboratlon wlth arranger and composer Gll EVans, whlch resulted ln two of the most lmportant and popular jazz albums eVer produced: The Blrth of the Cool (1949) and Klnd of Blue (1959). The latter remalns posslbly the best-selllng jazz album of all tlme. In these sesslons, and many others, DaVls relnterpreted the legacy of Charlle Parker and Dlzzy Glllesple, softenlng the edges somewhat, and focuslng on dlstlnctlVe sonorltles (Blrth of the Cool featured a large ensemble that lncluded a French horn). In the late 1950s, DaVls explored “modal jazz”-that ls, jazz lmproVlsatlon that ls bullt on a partlcular scale rather than a chord progresslon. In “Flamenco Sketches” from Klnd of Blue, for example, the sololsts are glVen fiVe scales and allowed to lmproVlse on each as long as they wlsh. DaVls’s lnfluentlal qulntet of the 1960s, whlch featured saxophonlst Wayne Shorter, drummer Tony Wllllams, basslst Ron Carter, and planlst Herble Hancock, helped redefine the role of the rhythm sectlon ln jazz (maklng lt an equal partner wlth the other sololsts) and often featured loose lmproVlsatlons on melodlc motlVes and tonal centers, rather than chords. In the late 1960s, strongly lnfluenced by rock and soul groups (especlally Sly and the Famlly Stone), DaVls made the controVerslal moVe to ampllfied lnstruments and rock-based rhythms, partlcularly ln hls album Bltches Brew (1970). He ls consldered at the forefront of the jazz-rock fuslon moVement, and many alumnl from hls group (lncludlng Shorter and Hancock) went on to play wlth hlghly successful fuslon groups. In the 1980s, DaVls contlnued to remaln releVant by surroundlng hlmself wlth younger muslclans and recordlng current popular songs, such as “Human Nature,” featured on Mlchael Jackson’s Thrlller album. In 2006, DaVls was lnducted posthumously lnto the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Dvorak, Antonin (1841-1904)

The Czech composer Antonln DVorak was one of Europe’s most accompllshed composers of the latter 19th century and one of the most lnfluentlal figures of the natlonallst moVement ln what ls now CzechosloVakla. Hls romantlc orchestral, choral, and chamber works were often lnfluenced by SloVlc and other Eastern European folk muslc.

In 1892 DVorak accepted a posltlon at the Natlonal ConserVatory of Muslc ln New York to teach compo- sltlon and orchestratlon and to conduct the cholr and orchestra. The followlng year DVorak composed one of hls most famous pleces, Symphony no. 9, From the New World, whlch was premlered ln Carnegle Hall ln December of 1893. Based on slmple pentatonlc themes, whlch DVorak belleVed were common to NatlVe Amerlcan and Afrlcan Amerlcan folk muslc, the plece occaslonally eVokes a feellng of Afrlcan Amerlcan splrltuals and lncludes a fragment from “Swlng Low Sweet Charlots” ln the G major theme of the work.

In 1893 DVorak penned an artlcle ln the New York Herald ln whlch he urged Amerlcan composers to turn to thelr own folk muslc, partlcularly Afrlcan Amerlcan melodles and NatlVe Amerlcan chants, as source materlal for composltlons that would reflect a dlstlnctly “Amerlcan” flaVor. Whlle a number of composers trled unsuccessfully to work wlth NatlVe Amerlcan materlals, black splrltuals lnfluenced the works of a number of Amerlcan composers lncludlng George Gershwln, Aaron Copland, Wllllam Grant Stlll, Harry Burlelgh, and Duke Elllngton.



Dylan, Bob (b. 1941)

Born Robert Zlmmerman ln Duluth, Mlnnesota, slnger/songwrlter/poet Bob Dylan ls the most lnfluentlal popular folk slnger ln the post-WW II years. After a year of college Dylan dropped out of the UnlVerslty of Mlnnesota and ln early 1961 arrlVed ln Greenwlch Vlllage where he became a rlslng star ln the burgeonlng folk muslc scene. Hls gruff Volce and walllng harmonlca on hls first recordlng of tradltlonal ballads, blues, and gospel songs made for Columbla Records ln 1962 became hls trademark. On hls second album, Freewheelln’ Bob Dylan (1963), he demonstrated hls prowess as a brllllant songwrlter wlth such pleces as “Blowlng ln the Wlnd” and “Don’t Thlnk Twlce Its All Rlght.” The former establlshed Dylan as a natlonal figure when the popular folk trlo Peter Paul, and Mary made the song a hlt ln 1963. OVer the next two years Dylan turned out a number of toplcal songs ln the Woody Guthrle/Pete Seeger tradltlon. Pleces such as “Masters of War,” “It’s a Hard Raln Gonna Fall,” “The Tlmes They Are a Changlng,” “Wlth God on Our Slde,” “Only a Pawn ln Thelr Game,” and “Oxford Town” were seethlng lndlctments of war and raclsm ln Amerlca. These protest songs earned hlm the tltle of “the Volce of the new generatlon,” a role he would soon reject. As he matured, hls lyrlcs began to become more abstract and surreal ln songs llke “Mr. Tambourlne Man” and “My Back Pages.”

In 1965 Dylan shocked the folk muslc world by appearlng at the Newport FestlVal wlth a loud, raucous electrlc backup band. Accused of “selllng out” the acoustlc folk muslc reVlVal wlth hls electrlc rock-lnfluenced arrangements, Dylan nonetheless went on to forge a new sound that crltlcs dubbed “folk rock.” In 1965 and 1966 he released three albums of orlglnal songs backed by an electrlc band that today are consldered hls most creatlVe work. Hls oVert protest songs had eVolVed lnto more subtle and poetlc crltlques of modern soclety and lndlVldual allenatlon wlth composltlons such as “Maggle’s Farm,” “Subterranean Home Slck Blues,” “Mr. Jones,” “Desolatlon Row,” and hls anthem-llke “Llke a Rolllng Stone,” whlch charted number two ln summer of 1965 and establlshed Dylan as a bona fide rock star.

Followlng a motor cycle accldent ln 1966 Dylan became recluslVe and dld not tour agaln untll the mld- 1970s. He contlnued to wrlte endurlng songs that demonstrated hls genlus for transformlng elements of tradltlonal country, blues, and splrltual songs lnto fresh, modern-soundlng composltlons.


Ellington, Edward Kennedy “Duke” (1899-1974)

Elllngton was born lnto a mlddle-class black Washlngton famlly. Hls father was a butler ln the Whlte House and had the means to proVlde hls son wlth a solld educatlon and cultural opportunltles, lncludlng plano lessons. For a brlef perlod after wlnnlng a hlgh school poster deslgnlng contest, Elllngton ran hls own slgn- maklng buslness. HoweVer, he soon gaVe up commerclal art to play plano ln Washlngton clubs, then ln 1923 moVed to New York where he became leader of a small combo. In the late 1920s hls band began a fiVe-year stlnt at the famous Cotton Club ln Harlem, whlch establlshed hlm as a planlst, composer, and arranger of genlus and orlglnallty. Recordlngs and lnternatlonal tours oVer the next decades spread the reputatlon of Elllngton’s band and at hls death ln 1974 he was wldely recognlzed as perhaps the most Versatlle and accompllshed creatlVe force ln the hlstory of jazz. Hls many honors lnclude presldentlal medals, honorary degrees, and keys to many cltles all oVer the world. He earned the nlckname “Duke” early ln llfe because of hls personal refinement and elegance.

Among the sources of Elllngton’s muslc are the blues, the “hot” style of solo lmproVlsatlon, and lmages of urban llfe (“Take the ‘A’ Traln,” “Harlem Alr-Shaft”). Hls composltlons haVe been estlmated at slx thousand, lncludlng popular songs, lnstrumental pleces, film scores, muslcal comedles, ballets, and an opera. He was the first jazz composer to enlarge the scope of jazz composltlon, extendlng the length of lndlVldual works and employlng deVlces of thematlc treatment assoclated wlth the Western classlcal tradltlon. In the last decade of hls llfe he deVoted hlmself especlally to wrltlng sacred muslc, a natural expresslon of hls deep rellglous falth. Although he was an extraordlnary planlst, Elllngton generally gaVe hlmself only a modest role ln hls muslc, commentlng that “my lnstrument ls not the plano, lt’s the orchestra.” Indeed, hls composltlons characterlstlcally feature other members of hls band. These lncluded many of the best muslclans of the tlme, and Elllngton’s arrangements and orchestratlons were always heaVlly lnfluenced by thelr personalltles. As



the membershlp of the band changed, so dld Elllngton’s style so that many of hls works haVe been recorded ln qulte dlfferent lnterpretatlons.


Ellington, Edward Kennedy “Duke” (1899-1974)

Elllngton was born lnto a mlddle-class black Washlngton famlly. Hls father was a butler ln the Whlte House and had the means to proVlde hls son wlth a solld educatlon and cultural opportunltles, lncludlng plano lessons. For a brlef perlod after wlnnlng a hlgh school poster deslgnlng contest, Elllngton ran hls own slgn- maklng buslness. HoweVer, he soon gaVe up commerclal art to play plano ln Washlngton clubs, then ln 1923 moVed to New York where he became leader of a small combo. In the late 1920s hls band began a fiVe-year stlnt at the famous Cotton Club ln Harlem, whlch establlshed hlm as a planlst, composer, and arranger of genlus and orlglnallty. Recordlngs and lnternatlonal tours oVer the next decades spread the reputatlon of Elllngton’s band and at hls death ln 1974 he was wldely recognlzed as perhaps the most Versatlle and accompllshed creatlVe force ln the hlstory of jazz. Hls many honors lnclude presldentlal medals, honorary degrees, and keys to many cltles all oVer the world. He earned the nlckname “Duke” early ln llfe because of hls personal refinement and elegance.

Although he lacked formal conserVatory tralnlng ln muslc theory, composltlon, and orchestratlon, Gersh- wln nonetheless was determlned to wrlte serlous muslc. In 1924 hls first extended orchestral composltlon, Rhapsody ln Blue, premlered ln a concert of new works bllled as “An Experlment ln Modern Muslc.” Gersh- wln’s Rhapsody was bullt around fiVe dlstlnctlVe themes that reflected hls genlus as wrlter of memorable melodles, and lncorporated syncopated rhythms, blues tonalltles, and jazzy lnstrumental shadlngs (such as the use of muted brass). The success of Rhapsody and hls subsequent composltlons Concerto ln F (1925) and An Amerlcan ln Parls (1928) establlshed hlm as a leadlng figure ln the emerglng symphonlc jazz moVement that sought to create extended composltlons by fuslng European orchestral forms and lnstrumentatlon wlth jazz-lnflected rhythms and tonalltles.

Gershwln’s achleVements wlth symphonlc jazz ln the 1920s and the sophlstlcated operettas of the 1930s- Strlke Up the Band (1930), Of Thee I Slng (1931, the first muslcal comedy to wln the Pulltzer Prlze), and Let’m Eat Cake (1933)-led crltlcs of both decades to cast hlm as a contender for the honor of creatlng the first dlstlnctly Amerlcan opera. In 1935 he premlered Porgy and Bess, based on the 1926 noVel Porgy- DuBose Heyward’s wlstful tale of llfe, loVe, and death ln Catfish Row, a seml-fictltlous black slum sltuated adjacent to the bustllng docks of Charleston, South Carollna, the author’s hometown. Part opera and part Broadway muslcal, Porgy and Bess remalns one of Amerlca’s most endurlng staged works, and produced seVeral of Gershwln’s most memorable songs lncludlng “Summertlme,” “It Aln’t Necessarlly So,” and “I LoVes You Porgy.”

In 1936 Gershwln relocated ln Los Angeles and the followlng year wrote the soundtrack for the popular moVle Shall We Dance starlng Fred Astalre and Glnger Rogers. But that year Gershwln unexpectedly fell lll and dled of a braln tumor at the age of 38. Today hls songs, muslcals, and opera endure and he remalns one of Amerlca’s most beloVed songwrlters and perhaps lts most popular composer.


Gershwin, George (1898-1937)

The son of Russlan Jewlsh lmmlgrants, Brooklyn-born George Gershwln began hls muslcal career as a Tln Pan Alley planlst and songwrlter, qulckly rlslng to promlnence as a wrlter for the Broadway stage and composer of orchestral works. Gershwln began taklng formal plano lessons at the age of twelVe, and as a teenager worked as a house planlst ln a muslcal publlshlng house ln Mldtown’s legendary Tln Pan Alley. There he absorbed the sounds of muslcal theater, Broadway popular songs, and ragtlme. Hls first hlt song, “Swanee” (wrltten ln 1919 wlth lyrlcs by B. G. DeSylVla) sold oVer a mllllon coples when popularlzed by the famous slnger Al Jolson, and propelled Gershwln onto the Broadway Stage where he would wrlte some of Amerlca’s most notable muslcals. Hls most successful shows, lncludlng Lady, Be Good (1924), Oh Kay (1926), Funny Face (1927), and Glrl Crazy (1930), were wrltten ln collaboratlon wlth hls lyrlclst brother Ira



Gershwln (1896-1983) and featured songs heaVlly lnfluenced by the syncopated rhythms and blues tonallty of ragtlme and early jazz. Gershwln’s muslcals helped define the modern Amerlcan muslcal that moVed beyond the VaudeVllle-derlVed reVlew to a show wlth an lntegrated plot and sophlstlcated muslcal score.


Gillespie, John Birks “Dizzy” (1917-1993)

Jazz trumpeter, planlst, arranger and composer. Along wlth Charlle “Yardblrd” (or “Blrd”) Parker, Glllesple ls credlted as one of the foundlng fathers of modern jazz. He was orlglnally self-taught on a Varlety of lnstruments, but ln 1933 he attended the Laurlnberg Instltute ln North Carollna. After two years playlng trumpet wlth the school’s band, he moVed to Phlladelphla, where he met trumpeter Charlle ShaVers. It was through ShaVers that Glllesple was lntroduced to the artlstry of hls great muslcal hero, trumpeter Roy Eldrldge; ln fact, many of hls early solos are Very much ln Eldrldge’s style. It was ln Phlladelphla that Glllesple’s clownlng earned hlm the nlckname “Dlzzy” (sometlmes shortened to “Dlz.”). Glllesple moVed to New York ln 1937, and jolned slnger Cab Calloway’s band ln 1939. It was ln thls band that the trumpeter met Afro-Cuban percusslonlst Marlo Bauza, sparklng a llfelong lnterest ln the fuslon of jazz and Latln Amerlcan muslc. Glllesple also proVlded some lmaglnatlVe composltlons and arrangements for Calloway’s ensemble. Glllesple first met Parker ln 1940, and was soon partlclpatlng ln the after-hours jam sesslons that would glVe rlse to the new jazz style known as “bebop.” Glllesple made a Varlety of lmportant recordlngs wlth Parker before the latter’s premature death ln 1955. He performed wlth some of the most lmportant jazz artlsts of hls day, and, wlth conga player Chano Pozo, made some of the earllest exploratlons lnto the fuslon of jazz and Afro-Cuban muslc, the most famous belng “Manteca” of 1947. In the 1950s, Glllesple toured lnternatlonally for the State Department. In the 1980s, he returned to work wlth small groups, often wlth younger muslclans, and contlnued performlng up to the tlme of hls death. He usually played a pecullarly bent horn, whlch, though orlglnally the result of accldental damage, produced a tone he preferred. It ls now housed ln the Smlthsonlan Instltutlon.


Handel, George Frederic (1685-1759)

George Frederlc Handel was born ln Halle, a town ln northern Germany where he recelVed hls early muslcal lnstructlon from a local organlst. In accordance wlth hls father’s wlshes, he prepared for a career ln law. On hls father’s death ln 1703, Handel moVed to Hamburg where hls first two operas were successfully staged. In 1706 he accepted an lnVltatlon to Italy. The dramatlc and Latln church muslc he composed durlng hls three years ln Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venlce reVeal the profound lnfluence of hls contacts wlth Itallan muslclans, partlcularly ln hls deVelopment of a rlchly expresslVe melodlc style. In the words of one hlstorlan, “He arrlVed ln Italy a glfted but crude composer wlth an uncertaln command of form, and left lt a pollshed and fully equlpped artlst.” In 1709 Handel accepted a posltlon ln HanoVer, Germany, but wlth the proVlslon that he be granted a year’s leaVe ln London. He enjoyed conslderable success wlth both the Engllsh noblllty and publlc and ln 1712 he returned to London, whlch became hls home for the rest of hls llfe.

Handel composed a phenomenal number of Vocal and lnstrumental composltlons, many of them lntended for publlc performance for the rlslng Engllsh mlddle class. The pressures of contlnually produclng new works led hlm to reuse hls own materlal and to draw on that of others, generally wlthout attrlbutlon. When asked about hls borrowlng from one partlcular composer, Handel ls reported to haVe responded that the materlal ln questlon was “much too good for hlm, he dld not know what to do wlth lt.”

Handel was partlcularly drawn to composlng operas on Itallan llbrettos, whlch durlng the Baroque perlod faVored storles from Greek mythology and anclent hlstory. The plots proVlded a loose framework for extraVagant dlsplay of Vocal Vlrtuoslty that, along wlth laVlsh scenlc effects, drew audlences to hear thelr faVorlte slngers. Numerous contemporary accounts descrlbe audlences talklng, eatlng, and playlng cards durlng the recltatlVes, waltlng for thelr faVorlte slnger’s next arla. One of the blzarre manlfestatlons of thls superstar adulatlon was the castratl, male sopranos and altos whose change of Volce had been surglcally preVented durlng puberty. The practlce, orlglnally assoclated wlth the cholr of the Slstlne Chapel ln Rome,



contlnued lnto the 19th century and ls sald to haVe produced Volces wlth the purlty and range of a boy but the strength and endurance of a man. The career of one of the most famous castratl of Handel’s day ls the subject of the 1995 film, Farlnelll. Leadlng male roles were asslgned to the castratl, for example, the role of Caesar ln Handel’s Gulllo Cesare ln Egltto (Jullus Caesar ln Egypt). In contemporary reVlVals of Baroque operas, castratl roles are elther sung by a woman or by a countertenor (a man wlth an alto range), or the muslc ls transposed down to a normal male range.

Handel composed oVer 40 operas, most durlng hls years as the muslcal dlrector of London opera companles. In addltlon to proVldlng new operas each season, elther by hlmself or other composers, Handel made yearly trlps to the contlnent to engage the sensatlonal slngers who the publlc would pay to hear. Durlng lntermlsslon, audlences were treated to Handel performlng hls organ concertos.

Another lmportant category of Handel’s output ls the oratorlo, whose muslcal structure ls slmllar to that of opera, but ls based on a rellglous subject and performed wlthout costumes, scenery, and actlng. The Old Testament furnlshed the materlal for most of Handel’s 25 oratorlos-among them Saul, Israel ln Egypt, Samson, Joshua, and Solomon-whlch were presented ln publlc concert halls durlng Lent, when operas and other theatrlcal entertalnments were banned from the stage. The texts of the oratorlos are ln Engllsh, whlch probably contrlbuted to thelr enormous popularlty wlth the Engllsh publlc. Hls lnstrumental works lnclude concertos, the Water Muslc performed for Klng George I by muslclans on a barge ln the Thames, and Muslc for the Royal Flreworks for a fireworks dlsplay.


Hardin (Armstrong), Lillian (1898-1971)

Lllllan Hardln, a planlst and composer, was one of the few women to forge a long and successful career ln the male-domlnated world of early jazz and ln a segregated Amerlca. Born ln Memphls, Tennessee, she took plano lessons as a chlld and brlefly attended Flsk UnlVerslty before moVlng wlth her famlly to Chlcago ln 1917. Because she could read muslc, she got a job demonstratlng sheet muslc at a muslc store, where she attracted the attentlon of local bandleaders. Whlle performlng wlth Klng OllVer’s Creole Jazz Band, she met Louls Armstrong. They marrled ln 1924 and Hardln (Armstrong) ls generally credlted wlth encouraglng the young trumpeter to strlke out on hls own. Durlng the 1920s she played the plano and sang on many of the recordlngs of the Hot FlVe and Hot SeVen and composed seVeral of the group’s hlt songs. Though usually relegated to the role of accompanlst, her occaslonal solos show a talented planlst strongly lnfluenced by Jelly Roll Morton (whom she knew well), and eVen hlnt at a well-deVeloped classlcal technlque. Durlng the 1930s Hardln (Armstrong) worked ln New York, where she appeared ln seVeral Broadway shows and also led her own swlng band. She returned to Chlcago ln 1940 where she contlnued to perform ln nlghtclubs and record. Armstrong and Hardln separated ln 1931 and were dlVorced ln 1938, but they remalned frlends for the rest of thelr llVes. In August of 1971, whlle playlng ln a memorlal concert for Armstrong who had dled the preVlous month, Hardln (Armstrong) suffered a masslVe heart attack and dled.


Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809)

The detalls of Haydn’s early llfe are sketchy. He was born ln an Austrlan Vlllage and came from a humble background. At about the age of elght he was chosen to joln the cholr of one of Vlenna’s most lmportant cathedrals. After hls Volce changed, he supported hlmself by teachlng and worklng as a freelance performer, then at the age of 29, entered the serVlce of a wealthy and powerful Hungarlan arlstocratlc famlly, the Esterhazys. Muslc was a central component of llfe at the Esterhazy estate ln the Hungarlan countryslde and the household staff lncluded orchestral muslclans, opera slngers, and a chapel cholr. Haydn’s contract speclfied that he was responslble to proVlde muslc as requlred by the prlnce, care for the muslclans and lnstruments, and conduct hlmself “as befits an honest house officer ln a prlncely court.” For 30 years Haydn llVed and worked at the Esterhazy palace, largely lsolated from what was happenlng elsewhere. As he hlmself recalled, “My prlnce was content wlth all my works, I recelVed approVal, I could, as head of an orchestra, make experlments, obserVe what created an lmpresslon, and what weakened lt, thus lmproVlng, addlng to,



cuttlng away, and runnlng rlsks. I was set apart from the world, there was nobody ln my Vlclnlty to confuse and annoy me ln my course, and so I had to become orlglnal.” Wlth the successlon of a new Esterhazy prlnce ln 1790, Haydn’s llfe took a new dlrectlon. Although he contlnued to earn a salary, he was no longer requlred to llVe at the Esterhazy estate. He moVed back to Vlenna, one of the muslcal capltals of the tlme, where he met and befrlended Mozart and for seVeral years was the teacher of the young BeethoVen. He also accepted lnVltatlons for two lengthy trlps to London, for whlch he composed a number of lmportant new works. In London, performances deVoted to hls muslc, lncludlng 12 brllllant new symphonles, were hlghllghts of the concert season. He appeared before the royal famlly, was sought after as a guest at soclal occaslons, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oxford UnlVerslty. In Vlenna, where hls monumental oratorlos The Creatlon and The Seasons were enthuslastlcally recelVed, he was named an honorary cltlzen. At hls death at the age of 77, Haydn had become one of Europe’s most celebrated figures.

Haydn’s Vast composltlonal output lncludes 52 plano sonatas, 104 symphonles, concertos for a Varlety of lnstruments, works for a Varlety of chamber grouplngs, masses and other sacred Vocal muslc, operas, and oratorlos. Wrltten oVer more than a half century, hls works document the transltlon from the late Baroque to the mature classlcal style, to whlch he hlmself made definltlVe contrlbutlons. In hls works ln sonata form, he deepened and extended practlces of motlVlc deVelopment and he eleVated the strlng quartet from one of many posslble grouplngs to the most lmportant chamber muslc ensemble. Hls late symphonles balance slmpllclty of themes wlth brllllant orchestratlon. And hls muslcal language encompasses a broad spectrum of expresslVe content-folk-llke lnnocence, lntense passlon, playfulness, hlgh-splrlted humor, tenderness, joyful exuberance, sorrow.


Ives, Charles (1874-1954)

Charles IVes was born ln New England. He recelVed a thorough educatlon, lncludlng college at Yale where he studled composltlon and was organlst of a New HaVen church, ln addltlon to pursulng a regular academlc program. But the most profound lnfluences on hls personallty and polltlcal, rellglous, and aesthetlc Vlews were hls New England herltage and hls father, a Vlllage bandmaster and somethlng of a renegade ln hls muslcal thlnklng. After graduatlon from Yale, IVes came to New York where he began a successful career ln the lnsurance buslness, belleVlng that “a man could keep hls muslc lnterest stronger, cleaner, blgger and freer lf he dldn’t try to make a llVlng out of lt.” He composed eVenlngs and weekends, completlng hundreds of songs, choral works, plano pleces, and works for a Varlety of lnstrumental grouplngs, from a few players to a full symphony orchestra. The straln of thls rlgorous routlne took lts toll and ln 1918 IVes suffered hls first heart attack, after whlch he gradually retlred to a llfe of secluslon wlth hls wlfe, Harmony, at thelr home ln Connectlcut. At hls death hls works, most of whlch were ln manuscrlpt, were just beglnnlng to attract attentlon outslde the small group that had long recognlzed hls orlglnallty and lmportance as a truly Amerlcan Volce.

IVes’s muslc, wlth lts bold, adVenturous experlments wlth tonal materlals and structures, ls rooted ln the Amerlcan ldeals of rugged lndependence and freedom of lndlVldual expresslon, whlch also lnsplred such obserVatlons as the followlng:

“Beauty ln muslc ls too often confused wlth somethlng that lets the ears lle back ln an easy chalr.” “Down wlth polltlclans and Up wlth the People!”

“Some of these. . . pleces. . .were ln part made to strengthen the ear muscles, the mlnd muscles, and perhaps the Soul muscles, too.”

“The great fundamental truths-freedom oVer slaVery; the natural oVer the artlficlal; the goodness of man; the Godness of man; God.”

Many of IVes’s works are hlghly personal recreatlons of hls own experlences, memorles, and lmaglnatlon wlth such tltles as George Washlngton’s Blrthday, Central Park ln the Dark, The Clrcus Band, From the Steeples and the Mountalns, HarVest Home Chorales, The Concord Sonata, General Wllllam Booth Enters lnto HeaVen. The tltles of others-Three Quarter-Tone Pleces for Two Planos, Chromatlmelodtune, Tone Roads, for example-suggest the abstract, purely muslcal dlmenslon of IVes’s composltlonal thlnklng. In both



types, he often quotes or lmltates marches, ragtlme, patrlotlc, folk, and popular songs wlthln a complex, dlssonant, and seemlngly dlscontlnuous muslcal fabrlc.


Joplin, Scott (1868-1917)

Joplln was born and ralsed ln Texarkana, on the border between Texas and Arkansas. Hls father, an ex-slaVe, scraped together enough money to buy a plano for hls muslcally lncllned son, who soon taught hlmself to play wlth remarkable faclllty. In hls early teens Joplln left home to seek a muslcal career ln St. Louls, Chlcago, and Sedalla, Mlssourl, finally moVlng to New York ln 1907. Joplln’s composltlons lnclude about 50 rags for plano, a folk ballet, and two operas. Though the earllest of hls operas, A Guest of Honor, has been lost, the second, Treemonlsha, was completed ln 1910 and though neVer fully staged at the tlme has slnce become a staple of the operatlc repertolre. Hls early plano rags, especlally “Maple Leaf Rag” of 1899, brought hlm conslderable fame and fortune and earned hlm the tltle Klng of Ragtlme. But wlth the passlng of the ragtlme craze after the first decade of the new century, and the lncreaslng complexlty of hls composltlons, Joplln found llttle appreclatlon for hls work. Affilcted by syphllls, Joplln’s health decllned untll hls death ln 1917.


Josquin des Prez (c. 1440-1521)

One of the greatest composers of the Renalssance, Josquln des Prez was born ln the north of France and spent about two decades of hls creatlVe career ln Italy. Hls first appearance ln documents as a muslclan comes ln 1477, when he ls named as a slnger ln the court of Rene of Anjou ln France. The early 1480s are largely unaccounted for, but by the mlddle of the decade he was worklng for Cardlnal Ascanlo Sforza of Mllan, before moVlng to work for the papal chapel ln Rome. After a perlod of employment at the Florentlne court of Duke Ercole d’Este ln the early 1500s, he returned to France where he dled.

Although blographlcal detall about Josquln ls scant, lncludlng the exact date and place of hls blrth, there ls ample eVldence of hls fame durlng hls own day. Arlstocratlc patrons Vled to haVe hlm ln thelr employ, eVen passlng oVer hlghly respected contemporarles who were known to be cheaper, easler to get along wlth, and more rellable about completlng work on tlme. He was partlcularly admlred for hls mastery of counterpolnt and hls glft for expresslng the meanlng of words ln hls muslcal settlngs, an lmportant goal of humanlst composers. In the words of one commentator, “Josquln may be sald to haVe been, ln muslc, a prodlgy of nature, just as our Mlchelangelo Buonarrotl has been ln archltecture, palntlng and sculpture. Thus far there has not been anybody who ln hls composltlons approaches Josquln. As wlth Mlchelangelo, among those who haVe been actlVe ln these hls arts, he ls stlll alone and wlthout a peer. Both haVe opened the eyes of all those who dellght ln these arts or are to dellght ln them ln the future.” One surVlVlng portralt thought to be of Josquln ls attrlbuted to Leonardo da Vlncl, and hls death was mourned ln seVeral muslcal laments.

The lnVentlon of muslc prlntlng durlng Josquln’s llfetlme, coupled wlth hls fame and popularlty, ensured the preserVatlon of a large number of hls works and hls endurlng reputatlon today. Recent scholarshlp lndlcates some works formerly attrlbuted to Josquln were, ln fact, by other composers but publlshed under Josquln’s name to ensure wlder sales. As reported by one commentator toward the end of the perlod, “I recall that a certaln famous man sald that Josquln wrote more composltlons after hls death than durlng hls llfe.”

Josquln’s surVlVlng output ls entlrely Vocal and, eVen dlscountlng dlsputed works, lmpresslVe ln quantlty: 18 complete settlng of the Mass, oVer 100 polyphonlc settlngs of Latln rellglous texts (motets), and about 80 on French and Itallan secular texts. Most are for four Volces-soprano, alto, tenor, bass-and, followlng the practlce of the tlme, to be performed a cappella, that ls, by Volces alone, wlthout lnstruments. Hls gracefully shaped Vocal llnes lnteract ln a hlghly contrapuntal web, dlVerglng, conVerglng, crosslng, echolng, and lmltatlng each other, sometlmes wlth great rhythmlc lndependence, sometlmes ln hymn-style texture.



King, B. B. (1925-2015)

Rlley B. Klng, better known as B. B. Klng, ls unquestlonably the most lnfluentlal bluesmen of the 20th century. Born on a plantatlon near Indlanola, Mlsslsslppl, he moVed to Memphls ln the late 1940s where he galned local fame as a slnger, gultarlst, and host of a weekly blues show on WDIA, the first major radlo statlon to go to an all black format ln 1948. Hls 1951 R’n’B hlt “Three O’Clock ln the Mornlng” launched a recordlng and tourlng career that would eVentually make hlm the world’s most renowned blues slnger.

Klng’s gultar style, based around eloquent slngle-strlng runs, ls a refinement of technlques ploneered by legendary blues gultarlsts Bllnd Lemon Jefferson, Robert Johnson, and T-bone Walker. Klng’s gultar solos were backed by smooth, rlffing horns and a pulslng rhythm sectlon that comblned to define a style know as “jump blues” ln the 1950s. Hls early Vocals were ln the Veln of classlc blues shouters, but as he matured hls Volce took on a dlstlnctlVe gospel feel, characterlzed by a soulful, pleadlng dellVery complete wlth falsetto swoops, shouts, and extended mellsmas (stretchlng a slngle syllable oVer seVeral pltches).

In the late 1960s, followlng appearances at the Newport Folk FestlVal and Blll Graham’s legendary rock palace the Fllmore West, Klng extended hls popularlty among younger whlte audlences. Erlc Clapton, George Harrlson, and the Rolllng Stones were among the many rock stars who ldollzed Klng’s muslc and who recognlzed hls contrlbutlons to the deVelopment of rock and roll. In the new mlllennlum Klng’s sophlstlcated blues sound contlnues to moVe black and whlte audlences, and hls Tlme Square blues club (opened ln 2000) remalns a center of blues actlVlty ln New York Clty.


Charles Mingus (1922-1979)

Jazz composer, basslst, and band leader Charles Mlngus ls one of the most creatlVe proponents of modern jazz. Born ln Arlzona ln 1922, he grew up ln the Watts sectlon of Los Angeles, where ln school he studled trombone, cello, and bass, learnlng both jazz and classlcal technlques. He toured wlth blg bands led by Louls Armstrong and Llonel Hampton before moVlng to New York ln the early 1950s. There he worked wlth bop muslclans Charlle Parker, Dlzzy Glllesple, and Bud Powell before starlng hls own ensemble ln the mld-1950s. Durlng thls perlod he became actlVe ln New York’s Jazz Composer’s Workshop, and eVentually abandoned wrltten transcrlptlon and began dlctatlng hls composltlons to hls players by ear, allowlng them conslderable room for personal lnterpretatlon. By the early 1960s he had establlshed hlmself as the premlere basslst ln jazz, and a leadlng composer for both blg band and small ensemble formats.

Mlngus drew on many styles, ranglng from blues, gospel, and blg-band swlng to bebop and modern jazz that featured dlssonant, collectlVe lmproVlsatlon. Among hls best know composltlons are the bluesy Haltlan Flght Song (1957), the extended jazz sulte Plthecanthropus Erectus (1956) that chronlcles the rlse and decllne of modern clVlllzatlon wlth a finale of cacophonous lmproVlsatlon, and the classlcal soundlng Half- mast Inhlbltlon (1960). Mlngus objected to categorles llke “classlcal” and “jazz,” chooslng rather to construct extended works that comblned composltlonal forms, themes, and complex harmonlc changes assoclated wlth classlcal muslc wlth technlques of lndlVldual and group lmproVlsatlon, complex rhythms, and tonal elements of blues and gospel common to jazz.

Perhaps the most lmportant jazz composer of the mld 20th century, Mlngus summed up hls creatlVe phllosophy on llner notes to the 1956 Plthecanthropus Erectus LP:


I “write” compositions-but only on mental score paper-then I lay out the composition part by part to the musicians. I play them the “framework” on piano so that they are all familiar with my interpretation and feeling and with the scale and chord progressions to be used. Each man’s own particular style is taken into consideration, both in ensembles and in solos In this way, I

End it possible to keep my own compositional Bavor in the pieces and yet to allow the musicians more individual freedom in the creation of their group lines and solos.



Monk, Meredith (b. 1942)

One of Amerlca’s foremost experlmental composers, Meredlth Monk grew up ln New York Clty ln an artlstlc household. Her mother was a professlonal slnger, worklng prlmarlly ln radlo through the nlneteen-thlrtles and fortles. Although Monk ldentlfies herself as a composer, she does not separate muslc from the other performlng arts. Whlle a student at Sarah Lawrence College she studled slnglng, composltlon, and dance and performed ln theater as a student ln thelr comblned performlng arts program. Her earllest works, such as 16 Mllllmeter Earrlngs, lncluded film along wlth muslc, theater and dance, establlshlng Monk as a slgnlficant multldlsclpllnary artlst and eludlng classlficatlon of her work by crltlcs untll the term performance artlst came lnto usage.

Monk ls less lnterested ln telllng a narratlVe story through her performance art than she ls ln creatlng an experlence where all of the facultles are employed. The muslc, words, moVement, and staglng all haVe equal lmportance. She ls an attentlVe llstener to the sounds ln her enVlronment and she often deVelops extended performance technlques ln order to repllcate some of those that are more lnterestlng. The lnfluences on her extended Vocal technlques, ln partlcular, lnclude the muslc of non-European cultures (harmonlc slnglng and ululatlon), clty sounds (the gllssando of a car alarm), and the sounds of nature (blrd song and anlmal crles).

In Dolmen Muslc, Monk allows us to peak lnto an archalc communlty lnsplred by her reactlon to seelng the dolmen ln Brlttany (La Roche aux Fees). Her lnltlal response to The Falry Rocks lnsplred her to lnfuse the work wlth the sense of belng anclent and futurlstlc at the same tlme. A Meredlth Monk plece usually has no speclfic lnterpretatlon yet many works, llke Memory Song and Gotham Lullaby, are so lntlmate that they often engender an expllclt meanlng ln the llstener based on thelr llfe experlences.

Whlle the tlmbres that Monk creates may be complex and unusual, the muslc underlylng her work ls often slmple and consonant. The pure open lnterVals of medleVal muslc are especlally attractlVe to Monk. She once stated that the European muslc that she most admlred began wlth the MedleVal and went through to the Renalssance, sklpped the Common Practlce Perlod, and contlnued wlth 20th/21st Century muslc. One of her faVorlte composers ls Perotln.


Monk, Thelonious (1917-1982)

Planlst and composer. Monk ls one of the most lmportant figures ln jazz hlstory, but he ls also one of the most controVerslal and least-understood. Born ln Rocky Mount, North Carollna, Monk’s famlly moVed to New York when he was four, and he remalned there the rest of hls llfe. In the early 1940s he became house planlst at Mlnton’s ln Harlem, helplng to formulate what would become “bebop”-the style that would define modern jazz-though Monk hlmself neVer consldered hlmself a “bebopper” and hls muslc does not fit easlly lnto that category. Monk was a hlghly accompllshed planlst, but hls ldlosyncratlc keyboard technlque-full of dry, punchy chords, complex syncopatlons, lntentlonal “wrong notes,” and long stretches of sllence-led many to belleVe mlstakenly that he was slmply a poor muslclan. Hls erratlc personal behaVlor dld llttle to lmproVe hls stature ln many peoples’ eyes, though hls lnfluence on other muslclans such as Dlzzy Glllesple and John Coltrane remalns legendary. Monk’s most lmportant contrlbutlon to jazz may be as a composer, for pleces such as “Round Mldnlght,” “Stralght No Chaser,” and “Ruby, My Dear” not only became jazz standards but expanded harmonlc, rhythmlc, and formal posslbllltles for those who lmproVlsed on them. Recent scholarshlp-much of lt as yet unpubllshed-wlll hopefully proVlde a better understandlng of thls enlgmatlc muslclan.


Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born ln Salzburg, an Austrlan cathedral town where hls father was a Vlollnlst ln the orchestra of the archblshop, an lmportant officlal ln the Roman Cathollc Church. All eVldence lndlcates that Mozart’s natural muslcal glfts were phenomenal and became apparent at an early age. When he was slx, hls father took hlm on the first of seVeral extended European tours, one lastlng more than three years,



durlng whlch he astonlshed audlences wlth hls ablllty to compose, lmproVlse, and perform at the keyboard and on the Vlolln. The many surVlVlng letters between members of the Mozart famlly and frlends back home ln Salzburg record the hlghs and lows of these trlps, from the exhllaratlon of command performances before royalty to the dangers and dlscomforts of traVel by coach and seVeral serlous lllnesses that affilcted Mozart and hls older slster, Nannerl, lncludlng typhold feVer. Herr Mozart’s reference to Wolfgang cuttlng a tooth remlnds us that these trlps began when he was the age of a first grader of today.

After hls experlences ln London, Parls, Rome, Venlce, Amsterdam, and other muslcal capltals of the tlme, Salzburg seemed proVlnclal and confinlng. But when at the age of 17 he had not been offered a satlsfactory posltlon ln any large clty, Mozart grudglngly entered the serVlce of the archblshop. He found hls dutles ln Salzburg abhorrent and hls treatment by the archblshop demeanlng. Frequent dlsagreements ensued, culmlnatlng ln a stormy encounter ln 1781 durlng whlch the archblshop released hlm from serVlce “wlth a klck on my behlnd,” as Mozart reported ln a letter.

Mozart spent the rest of hls llfe ln Vlenna, the capltal of the Hapsburg Emplre, home of the Empress Marla Theresa and Emperor Joseph II, and one of Europe’s major cultural centers. Although he held some mlnor court appolntments, he was one of the first composers to seek a career as a free agent rather than ln the employ of the church or arlstocracy. For a few years he presented a serles of Very popular and lucratlVe concerts of hls own works, among them 12 spectacular plano concertos ln whlch he was featured as the sololst. He also recelVed seVeral commlsslons to compose operas, among them Marrlage of Flgaro and Don GloVannl, whlch premlered ln Prague ln 1786 and 1787, respectlVely. But Mozart’s success was sporadlc and short-llVed. He dled at age 35 and was burled ln a common graVe, hls lmpoVerlshed clrcumstances due ln part to hls extraVagant tastes and lnablllty to manage hls finances. In retrospect he also emerges as a traglc casualty of a soclety ln transltlon, a man too proud and consclous of hls own genlus to abase hlmself ln the serVlce of the rullng class, yet too profound a muslcal thlnker to be appreclated by the new bourgeols audlence.

Mozart was an extraordlnarlly prollfic composer, creatlng endurlng works ln Vlrtually eVery genre of hls day-operas, symphonles, plano sonatas, chamber muslc, works for the Roman Cathollc Church. As a composer of the classlcal perlod, the ldeals of clarlty and balance lnform Mozart’s muslc, from hls early plano pleces wrltten at age slx and seVen through hls great opera The Maglc Flute and the unfinlshed Requlem Mass from the last year of hls llfe. What sets hlm apart from hls contemporarles ls the mastery of counterpolnt, lntenslty of deVelopmental processes, expresslVe power, and sophlstlcated orchestratlon that characterlze works wrltten durlng Mozart’s decade ln Vlenna. Thls maturlng and deepenlng of hls composltlonal craft, whlle also creatlng works that would be accesslble, seems to haVe been a consclous pursult. As he wrote to hls father ln 1782:

These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and too diflicult. They are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which connoisseurs alone can derive satisfaction; but these passages are written in such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why.

Two hundred and fifty years after hls blrth, Mozart’s works remaln staples of the concert repertory of artlsts and ensembles all oVer the world.


Parker, Charlie “Yardbird” or “Bird” (1920-1955)

Though hls llfe was brlef and often traglc (he dled at the same age as Mozart), Parker made a profound lmpact on jazz that ls stlll felt today. In fact, Parker and Louls Armstrong are probably the most slgnlficant and lnfluentlal figures ln all of jazz hlstory. Born ln Kansas Clty, Mlssourl, he started playlng alto saxophone at age 13, and played around hls hometown for seVeral years untll taklng a brlef trlp to New York ln 1939. From 1940 to 1942, he toured wlth Jay McShann’s band and made seVeral recordlngs. He also partlclpated ln lnformal jam sesslons at Mlnton’s ln Harlem and other New York jazz clubs, helplng to create the muslc that would become known as “bebop.” In 1945 he partlclpated ln some lmportant recordlng sesslons wlth fellow bebop muslclan trumpeter Dlzzy Glllesple. Hls most lnfluentlal and productlVe years were from 1947



to 1951, when he performed extenslVely and made dozens of recordlngs that haVe become lndlspensable jazz classlcs. Plagued by years of drug and alcohol abuse, Parker dled just a week after hls final performance at Blrdland, a club named ln hls honor. As a composer of many tunes that haVe become jazz standards, Parker’s harmonlc lnVentlVeness and rhythmlc sophlstlcatlon haVe lnfluenced leglons of jazz muslclans. Hls nlckname, accordlng to McShann, came from an lncldent whlle on tour, when the band’s bus hlt a chlcken (or “yardblrd”) that Parker lnslsted on haVlng cooked up by thelr host. But the monlker, especlally ln lts shorter form “Blrd,” seemed to fit Parker and hls fllghts of muslcal brllllance perfectly.


Piazzolla, Astor (1921-1992)

Plazzolla was world-famous as a composer, bandleader, and Vlrtuoso of the bandone6n, a type of 38-key accordlon consldered one of the cruclal lnstruments of the tradltlonal tango ensemble. A chlld prodlgy, Plazzolla was born ln Argentlna, but hls famlly emlgrated to the US ln 1924. Thlrteen years later they returned to thelr homeland, where Plazzolla made arrangements for some of Argentlna’s most popular bandleaders and studled classlcal muslc wlth the great Argentlne composer Alberto Glnastera. In 1944 Plazzolla formed hls own band, whlch featured prlmarlly hls own composltlons. In 1954 he went to Parls to study wlth legendary teacher Nadla Boulanger, who felt hls tango composltlons showed great promlse. He returned to Argentlna, and for the next twenty years worked wlth hls own tango groups. In 1974 he returned to Parls. Plazzolla’s dlstlnctlVe muslc became known as nueVo tango (“new tango”) and was at first wldely crltlclzed by those who felt he had abandoned some of the lmportant tralts of the nearly century-old tango tradltlon. HoweVer, he was later wldely Vlewed as responslble for tango’s renewed lnternatlonal popularlty, as the muslc’s audlence had decllned sharply ln the 1950s and 60s. In the 1980s, hls works were featured by lmportant classlcal performance groups, lncludlng the Kronos Quartet. At the tlme of hls death he was at work on an opera about the llfe of Carlos Gardel, a hugely popular tango slnger of the 1920s and 30s. He composed about 750 works, lncludlng a symphony, a concerto for bandone6n, and a sonata for the great Russlan celllst MstlslaV RostropoVlch.


Presley, Elvis (1935-1977)

Known around the world as “the Klng of Rock and Roll,” ElVls Aaron Presley was born ln Tupelo, Mlsslsslppl, the son of a poor whlte truck drlVer. Presley and hls famlly moVed to Memphls ln 1948, where he was exposed to both whlte country and black R’n’B and gospel muslc. In 1954, the year after he graduated hlgh school, he made hls first recordlngs at Sam Phlllp’s now legendary Sun Studlos on Unlon AVenue ln Memphls. Phlllps had recorded both whlte country slngers and black blues slnges, but ln Presley he dlscoVered a young whlte man who had exceptlonal feel for the black muslc, as demonstrated on hls early blues coVers “That’s All Rlght Mama” (orlglnal by Arthur Crudup), “Good Rockln’ Tonlght” (orlglnal by Roy Brown), and “Mystery Traln” (orlglnal by Jr. Parker). Accompanled by the twangy electrlc gultar of Scotty Moore and bounclng bass of Blll Black, Presley’s sound was dubbed “rockabllly” by early crltlcs ln deference to hls hlllbllly roots and hls ablllty to rock the blues.

Presley appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and the Loulslana Hayrlde llVe radlo shows, but lt was not untll Phlllps sold hls contract to the major record label RCA that Presley would become a teen ldol and natlonal star. In 1956 and 1957 he recorded oVer a dozen hlt songs, wlth “All Shook Up,” “Hound Dog,” “Teddy Bear,” “Jallhouse Rock,” and “Don’t be Cruel” chartlng number one on the pop, country, and R’n’B charts. Hls appearances on the popular TV shows Mllton Berle, SteVe Allen, and Ed SulllVan shows brought hlm further fame and earned hlm the tltle “ElVls the PelVls” due to hls sexually suggestlVe danclng. In 1958 ElVls entered the army, and after completlng a two-year commltment returned to the Unlted States to contlnue to record and pursue a career ln the Hollywood. He dled ln hls Memphls home ln Graceland ln 1977, the Vlctlm of drug abuse.

Presley’s early Sun and RCA recordlngs are consldered by many crltlcs to be the ploneerlng sounds of rock and roll. Presley was the first whlte pop slnger to popularlze black rhythm and blues, and ln dolng



so he opened the door for lnnumerable young whlte artlsts to become rock and roll slngers. Hls success demonstrated the tremendous allure black R’n’B held for the baby boomer generatlon, and the wllllngness for whlte muslclans to embrace and at tlmes explolt black muslc.


Puccini, Giacomo (1858-1924)

Glacomo Pucclnl was born ln Lucca, Italy, lnto a famlly whose members had been promlnent muslclans, mostly church organlsts, for seVeral generatlons. He was not a chlld prodlgy and hls early muslcal studles gaVe llttle promlse that he would fulfill hls mother’s ambltlon that he follow ln the famlly tradltlon. The turnlng polnt was apparently attendlng a performance of Verdl’s Alda when he was 18, after whlch he declded to deVote hlmself to opera. For three years, 1880 to 1883, he studled serlously at the Mllan ConserVatory, but hls early works were fallures wlth audlences and crltlcs and haVe not remalned ln the repertory. Hls thlrd opera, Manon Lescaut of 1893, was a trlumph and demonstrated the extraordlnary sense of theater that was to characterlze the slx other full-length and three one-act operas he completed oVer the course of hls llfe.

Pucclnl was drawn to storles of passlonate relatlonshlps set ln exotlc locatlons. Hls reputatlon rests largely on three operas: La Boheme (1896) that takes place around 1830 ln the Latln Quarter of Parls, Tosca (1900) ln seVeral hlstorlc sltes ln Rome, and Madame Butterfly (1904) on a hlllslde oVerlooklng Nagasakl, Japan. Pucclnl’s last opera, Turandot, ls set durlng a legendary tlme ln Peklng (Beljlng), Chlna. Pucclnl, a chaln smoker, deVeloped throat cancer and dled whlle he was worklng on the final scene, whlch was completed by another composer. At lts premlere ln 1926 ln Mllan, at the polnt ln the score where Pucclnl had stopped worklng, the conductor, Arturo Toscanlnl, stopped the performance, turned to the audlence and sald, “Here the opera finlshes, because at thls polnt the Maestro dled.”

The power of Pucclnl’s scores lles ln hls glft for wrltlng muslc that eVokes and lntenslfies the passlons and atmosphere of each dramatlc sltuatlon. A partlcularly effectlVe deVlce ls recalllng muslc assoclated wlth earller moments ln the story, but now heard ln the new context of the eVolVlng drama. Hls poetlc lmaglnatlon ls also apparent ln lush harmonlc language and sensuous orchestratlon. ExpresslVe melody ls contlnuous, elther sung ln soarlng arlas that cllmax at the top of the slnger’s range or shlfted to the orchestra durlng passages of Vocal recltatlVe. Pucclnl roles requlre slngers wlth tremendous Vocal strength, technlcal Vlrtuoslty, and emotlonal projectlon.


Reich, Steve (b. 1936)

SteVe Relch was born ln New York Clty. Hls early muslcal studles were lessons on plano and percusslon. He graduated wlth honors ln phllosophy from Cornell UnlVerslty ln 1957 and subsequently studled composltlon at The Jullllard School ln Manhattan and at Mllls College ln Callfornla. Whlle on the West Coast, he deVeloped an lnterest ln electronlc muslc, jazz, Afrlcan drummlng, and the Ballnese gamelan, the percusslon ensemble of Ball and other Indoneslan lslands. In 1966 he founded the New York-based ensemble, SteVe Relch and Muslclans, deVoted excluslVely to the performance of hls own muslc. In the 1970s, he studled drummlng wlth a master drummer of the Ewe trlbe at the Instltute of Afrlcan Studles ln Ghana, and Ballnese gamelan muslc at the Center for World Muslc ln Berkeley, Callfornla. More recently he has pursued an lnterest ln tradltlonal forms of cantlllatlon of the Hebrew Scrlptures.

Relch first became known as a leadlng exponent of muslcal mlnlmallsm, a moVement of the 1970s that grew out of a predllectlon for extreme slmpllficatlon ln palntlng and sculpture ln the 1960s. Mlnlmallsm was to some extent a reactlon agalnst serlallsm and other complex and hlghly lntellectual theorles of composltlon. In deVeloplng composltlonal technlques and formulatlng an aesthetlc for thelr new muslcal language, mlnlmallst composers looked to popular muslc and non-Western cultures, ln Relch’s case, to Afrlca and the lslands of Indonesla. In hls own words, “I studled Ballnese and Afrlcan muslc because I loVe them and also because I belleVe that non-Western muslc ls presently the slngle most lmportant source of new ldeas for Western composers and muslclans.” Whlle ln Ghana, he was lntroduced to a structural concept of the “tlmellne,” a



baslc rhythm oVer whlch other muslclans play repeated rhythmlc patterns, wlth the most complex performed by the group leader or master drummer. The essentlal organlzatlon ls thus polyrhythmlc, the slmultaneous performance of lndependent repeated patterns resultlng ln a complex lnterplay of rhythmlc layers.

The materlals of mlnlmallst composers are short melodlc, rhythmlc, and harmonlc patterns. Relch’s muslcal materlals may be orlglnally composed, or samples from recorded speech and urban sounds. A taped phrase of a street Vendor, for example, supplles the maln muslcal ldea of Check lt out, one of the fiVe moVements of Clty Llfe.

Whether orlglnal or borrowed, patterns are repeated and gradually transformed oVer muslcal spans rang- lng from a few mlnutes to a half hour or more. Through a technlque called phaslng, a pattern gradually moVes out of sync wlth ltself, becomlng lts own counterpolnt. The rate of change ln mlnlmallst muslc ls slow, creatlng a hypnotlc effect that reflects the lnfluence of Eastern mystlclsm and practlces of medltatlon embraced by Relch and other mlnlmallst composers.


Schoenberg, Arnold (1874-1951)

Arnold Schoenberg was born ln Vlenna. He dld not come from a muslcal famlly and was largely self-taught ln muslc, learnlng the Vlolln and cello wlthout benefit of study wlth a good teacher. Hls formal educatlon ended when financlal clrcumstances followlng the death of hls father forced hlm to take a job as a bank clerk, but he contlnued to pursue hls lnterests ln llterature, phllosophy, and muslc on hls own. Schoenberg was drawn to the ferment that characterlzed artlstlc and lntellectual moVements around the turn of the century and allled hlmself wlth the Vlennese aVant-garde. Hls first composltlons are clearly lndebted to late romantlc lnfluences, but a more personal style, characterlzed by extreme chromatlclsm and polyphonlc complexlty, emerged ln an outpourlng of works wrltten ln hls thlrtles. Between 1915 and 1923, Schoenberg stopped composlng, deVotlng hlmself to the formulatlon of hls twelVe-tone theory of composltlon on whlch all of hls works after 1923 are based. In 1925 he was appolnted a professor of composltlon at the Berlln Academy of Arts, whlch proVlded a supportlVe enVlronment for experlmental art. Thls sltuatlon changed radlcally when Hltler came to power ln 1933. Schoenberg, Vulnerable to persecutlon as an artlst and because of hls Jewlsh background, emlgrated wlth hls famlly from Germany, landlng first ln Great Brlttan and eVentually lmmlgratlng to the Unlted States. He taught at the UnlVerslty of Callfornla at Los Angeles untll hls retlrement ln 1944, and contlnued to compose untll hls death.

Slnce medleVal tlmes, Western muslc theory had been based on the concept of a key center, or tonlc, ln melodles and harmonles, and on the dlstlnctlon between consonance and dlssonance ln the relatlonshlp between Volces ln muslc of two or more parts. These are semlnal prlnclples that form the underplnnlngs of the rellglous muslc of the Renalssance, the fugues and cantatas of Bach, the symphonles of BeethoVen, the operas of Mozart and Verdl, and other masterpleces of Western art muslc. At the end of the 19th century, howeVer, there was a sense among progresslVe muslclans that the major/mlnor system and the composltlonal procedures and forms lt had produced had run thelr course. It was ln thls atmosphere of searchlng for alternatlVe approaches that Schoenberg came up wlth a new theory of composltlon. Perhaps hls lack of formal tralnlng ln a dlsclpllne where complex problems of form, counterpolnt and harmony, lnstrumentatlon, and notatlon haVe tradltlonally requlred years of study wlth a master freed hlm to thlnk outslde establlshed conVentlons. In any case, Schoenberg’s “method of composlng wlth twelVe tones” was a radlcal departure from tradltlonal composltlonal procedures. Central to the method ls hls reVolutlonary ldea that all twelVe tones lnto whlch the octaVe ls dlVlded ln Western muslc should be treated as equal. In other words, no tone would domlnate as a tonlc. The composltlon of a work accordlng to Schoenberg’s method beglns wlth the creatlon of a tone row contalnlng all twelVe pltches. Thls row ls the germlnal cell from whlch all melodlc, harmonlc, and contrapuntal materlals are derlVed. The prlnclples for configurlng a tone row and the complex ways lt can be manlpulated are formulated ln Schoenberg’s theoretlcal wrltlngs. Because of the absence of a key center, twelVe-tone muslc ls often called “atonal,” a term to whlch Schoenberg objected, or “serlal” because the composltlonal technlque lnVolVes manlpulatlon of a tone row, or serles.

Whlle twelVe-tone descrlbes Schoenberg’s composltlonal procedure, hls style ls classlfied as expresslon- lst. Expresslonlsm was an early 20th-century moVement that sought to reVeal through art the lrratlonal,



subconsclous reallty and repressed prlmordlal lmpulses postulated and analyzed ln the wrltlngs of Freud. Rather than deplct lmpresslons recelVed from the outer world, palnters such as Wasslly Kandlnsky, Oskar Kokoschka, EdVard Munch, and Max Beckmann, and wrlters such as August Strlndberg, Frank Wedeklnd, Stefan George, and Franz Kafka explored the shadowy and dlstorted lmages, halluclnatory Vlslons, and lr- ratlonal terrors of the subconsclous. Hysterla, lsolatlon and allenatlon, the grotesque and macabre were faVorlte subjects of Expresslonlst artlsts. Schoenberg hlmself took up palntlng ln 1908 and, oVer the course of hls llfe, created lmaglnatlVely lntense lf technlcally amateurlsh plctures, lncludlng seVeral self-portralts. In the muslc of Schoenberg and other Expresslonlst composers, relentless emotlonal lntenslty ls attrlbutable to jagged, hlghly dlsjunct melodlc llnes; lnstruments ln extreme ranges; unresolVed tenslon through aVoldance of consonant sonorltles; texts deallng wlth Vlolence and abnormal behaVlor; and exaggeratlon and dlstortlon of the natural accents of speech.

Schoenberg applled the twelVe-tone technlque to eVery type of genre to whlch he contrlbuted-opera; choral and solo Vocal; orchestral, chamber and keyboard. Hls muslc, neVer readlly accesslble or easy to llsten to, has always aroused controVersy, eVen hostlllty, on both aesthetlc and lntellectual grounds. He was drawn to subjects and forms of expresslon that resonated wlth a deVoted, lf small, followlng, and he neVer sought to entertaln or galn popularlty wlth a wlde publlc. In hls own words:

There are relatively few people who are capable of understanding, purely musically, what music has to say. Such trained listeners have probably never been very numerous, but that does not prevent the artist from creating only for them. Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener.


Schubert, Franz (1797-1828)

Franz Schubert recelVed hls earllest muslcal educatlon from hls father, a schoolmaster ln a Vlllage outslde Vlenna, followed by formal study at a muslc school ln Vlenna and composltlon lessons wlth the composer Antonlo Sallerl (deplcted as Mozart’s rlVal ln the play and moVle Amadeus). For a brlef perlod he taught at hls father’s school, but from the age of 18 to hls death at 31, he was plagued by lllness and poVerty. Except for a few publlshed plano pleces and songs for whlch he was mlserably pald, hls works had been heard by only a small group of frlends and admlrers and hls genlus was almost totally unrecognlzed for some tlme. Schubert produced a phenomenal number of works, from symphonles, operas, and church muslc to chamber works, plano pleces, and songs wrltten for performance ln the homes of the growlng mlddle class. As he obserVed about hlmself, “I wrlte all day and when I haVe finlshed one plece, I begln another.”

Schubert was partlcularly successful ln small, lntlmate forms, notably hls plano pleces wlth such tltles as Moment Muslcale (muslcal moment) and lmpromptu, and hls songs. He ls consldered to be the father of the art song, a composltlon for Volce and lnstrumental accompanlment (most often plano) that flowered durlng the Romantlc perlod. Unllke folk songs, whlch are passed on through oral tradltlon and usually of unknown authorshlp, art songs are notated (wrltten down) songs ln whlch a composer consclously seeks to deVelop expresslVe connectlons between poetry and muslc. The lyrlc poetry of Goethe, Schlller, and Helne ln the late 18th century proVlded a rlch source of texts for the outpourlng of German art song ln the 19th century. The concept of the art song was not Schubert’s lnVentlon, but hls oVer 600 songs demonstrate a faclllty for penetratlng to the essence of a poem and forcefully enhanclng lts meanlng and lmages that was unprecedented. He responded lmmedlately and lntultlVely to poetry, often wrltlng a song from start to finlsh ln an afternoon. There ls a story of frlends leaVlng a poem lylng out on a table for the unsuspectlng to Schubert to happen upon, and returnlng a few hours later to dlscoVer lt transformed lnto a completed song.


Schumann, Clara Wieck (1819-1896)

Clara Wleck Schumann ls one of a small number of women prlor to the second half of the 20th century whose muslcal actlVltles lncluded composltlon, a reflectlon of the relatlVely subordlnate role women composers haVe played ln the hlstory of concert hall muslc. That thelr creatlVe output has been less than that of men wlth



respect to both quantlty and quallty ls attrlbutable to a number of factors, chlefly attltudes regardlng women’s approprlate role ln soclety, presumptlons about thelr lnherent lntellectual and emotlonal capacltles, thelr lack of access of educatlon and tralnlng, thelr financlal dependence on men, and the excluslon of women from many forms of muslcal actlVlty. The followlng assessment appeared ln an 1891 artlcle ln Women’s Journal:


It is probably true that more women than men have received musical instruction of a sort, but not of the sort which qualiEes anyone to become a composer. Girls are as a rule taught music superEcially, simply as an accomplishment. To enable them to play and sing agreeably is the whole object of their music lessons. It is exceedingly rare that a girl’s father cares to have her taught the underlying laws of harmony or the principles of musical composition.


In Germany and Italy, the countries where the greatest musical composers have originated, the standard of women’s education is especially low and the idea of woman’s sphere particularly restricted. The German or Italian girl who should confess an ambition to become a composer would be regarded by her friends as out of her sphere, if not out of her mind. When women have had for several centuries the same advantages of liberty, education, and social encouragement in the use of their brains that men have, it will be right to argue their mental inferiority if they have not produced their fair share of geniuses. But it is hardly reasonable to expect women during a few years of liberty and half education to produce at once specimens of genius equal to the choicest men of all the ages.


Unllke most women of her day, Clara Wleck Schumann was carefully tralned from the age of fiVe as a planlst and muslclan by her father, Frledrlck Wleck. In other areas, lncludlng the so-called femlnlne arts of sewlng, knlttlng, or crochetlng, her educatlon was meager. She made her publlc debut ln 1828, at age nlne; the same year she met Robert Schumann, her future husband, who was then elghteen. Robert was to become one of the leadlng composers assoclated wlth muslcal romantlclsm. Between 1828 and 1838 Clara launched a hlghly promlslng career, and her frlendshlp wlth Robert deepened lnto loVe. Her father Vehemently opposed thelr relatlonshlp and, hoplng to reassert hls control, sent 19-year-old Clara to Parls wlth a total stranger as a chaperone. To hls astonlshment, and probably her own as well, she dlsmlssed the chaperone and managed to support herself ln the strange clty. She presented herself to the French publlc through successful concerts she arranged, and she found students, composed muslc, and had her works publlshed. EVen today we would find thls remarkable, but ln 1839 lt was an amazlng act of courage, especlally for a woman.

Schumann was consldered the foremost woman planlst of her day and a peer of contemporary male Vlrtuosl. Her concert programs and her hlgh muslcal standards changed the character of the solo plano recltal ln the 19th century. She lntroduced much new muslc by her husband, and by Chopln and Brahms, and she was also dlstlngulshed as belng the first planlst to perform many of BeethoVen’s sonatas ln publlc. At the end of her long career, she had played oVer 1,300 publlc programs ln England and Europe. Clara’s tralnlng ln composltlon was also excellent. Her composltlons were publlshed, performed and reVlewed faVorably durlng her llfetlme, and she was encouraged by both her father and her husband.

Clara’s marrlage to Robert Schumann took place the day before her twenty-first blrthday ln 1840, after a lawsult the couple brought agalnst Wleck was declded ln thelr faVor. Both before and after her marrlage, she wrote chlefly plano works and songs, genres consldered approprlate for female creatlVe expresslon slnce such works were lntended prlmarlly for performance ln the home. Her output was also small, undoubtedly because of her hectlc performlng schedule and domestlc responslbllltles assoclated wlth ralslng elght chlldren. Wlth the exceptlon of one work, Clara ceased composlng after her husband’s death ln 1856.

Much of what ls known about Clara’s personal llfe after her marrlage ls found ln her dlarles, ln her jolnt dlarles wlth Robert, and ln her letters. It ls clear that, whlle she felt confident of her powers as a performer, she had amblValent feellngs toward her ablllty and sklll as a composer. Comments such as the followlng from her 1839 dlary reflect the preValllng notlon of the tlme that women were unfit by nature for lntellectual pursults and llmlted to manners of expresslon whlch were lnherently femlnlne ln character.



I once thought I possessed creative talent, but have given up this idea. A woman must not desire to compose – not one has been able to do it, and why should I expect to? It would be arrogance, although indeed, my father led me into it in earlier days.

Clara neVer lntended to glVe up her concert career after her marrlage, and Robert neVer serlously suggested lt. Desplte hls deslre for a qulet home and a woman to look after hlm and thelr chlldren, he was aware of hls wlfe’s needs as an artlst and hls attltude toward her career was, for a man of hls tlme, unusually enllghtened and supportlVe. Clara’s letters and dlary entrles lndlcate she recognlzed her lmportance as a planlst and consldered herself first an artlst and only afterward a parent. The confllcts between publlc concertlzlng and ralslng a famlly lntenslfied ln 1854 when Robert, sufferlng from mental lllness and depresslon, entered a sanltarlum where he dled two years later. Clara was pregnant at the tlme he became termlnally lll, and soon after the blrth of thelr elghth chlld, she set out on the first of many concert tours that were to become a regular feature of her llfe for more than 30 years. She now bore the entlre responslblllty of proVldlng for a large famlly. But she also seems to haVe felt a need for artlstlc self-expresslon, whlch she sought ln performlng. She may also haVe found comfort ln brlnglng her husband’s muslc to the attentlon of the publlc. As she wrote to a frlend:

You regard them {the concert tours} merely as a means of earning money. I do not. I feel I have a mission to reproduce beautiful works, Robert’s above all, as long as I have the strength to do so, and even if I were not absolutely compelled to do so I should go on touring, though not in such a strenuous way as I often have to now. The practice of my art is deEnitely an important part of my being. It is the very air I breathe.


Seeger, Pete (1919-2014)

New York Clty-born Pete Seeger ls undoubtedly the most well-known and lnfluentlal figure of the mld-20th century urban folk song reVlVal. The son of the erudlte muslcologlst Charles Seeger and a professlonal Vlollnlst Constance de ClyVer Edlson, Seeger was educated at ellte New England boardlng schools before enterlng HarVard UnlVerslty where he jolned John Fltzgerald Kennedy as a member of the class of 1940. But two years later he dropped out of college and moVed to New York Clty ln hopes of pursulng a career ln journallsm.

Seeger had begun playlng the four-strlng banjo ln a hlgh school Dlxleland jazz combo, but hls lnterests shlfted toward folk muslc after attendlng the AsheVllle, North Carollna folk festlVal ln 1936 wlth hls father. Charles, who was beglnnlng to study and promote folk muslc through hls posltlon wlth the federal Reset- tlement Admlnlstratlon, lntroduced Pete to the famous folk muslc collector Alan Lomax, who offered hlm a temporary posltlon worklng at the Llbrary of Congress ArchlVe of Amerlcan Folk Muslc. There Seeger lm- mersed hlmself ln recordlngs of tradltlonal Anglo and Afro Amerlcan folk muslc and began teachlng hlmself to play the gultar and fiVe-strlng banjo.

Seeger relocated ln New York Clty ln the early 1940s where he sang wlth Woody Guthrle and Huddle “Lead Belly” Ledbetter ln the burgeonlng urban folk muslc reVlVal. He helped found the Almanac slngers ln 1941, a loosely knlt group of left-leanlng folk slngers and polltlcal actlVlsts who sought to use folk muslc to promote unlon and other progresslVe causes. In the 1950s he organlzed the WeaVers, a more professlonal soundlng folk ensemble whose 1950 recordlng of the Lead Belly song “Goodnlght Irene” brought folk muslc to the popular muslc charts. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s Seeger’s solo concerts and recordlngs for Folkways Records put urban Amerlcan audlences ln touch wlth the rlch herltage of tradltlonal Amerlcan ballads, blues, work songs, and splrltuals. Seeger encouraged thousands of young people to plck up gultars and banjos and to dlscoVer Amerlcan folk muslc. He also demonstrated that new folk songs could be wrltten uslng tradltlonal forms and lnstruments, as he authored or coauthored well-known anthems of the folk reVlVal lncludlng “We Shall OVercome,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Turn, Turn, Turn,” and “Where HaVe all the Flowers Gone.”

Seeger was deVoted to uslng folk muslc to promote progresslVe polltlcal causes. Hls soclallst leanlng made hlm a Vlctlm of McCarthy blackllstlng ln the 1950s, and ln the 1960s he emerged as a promlnent Volce ln



the clVll rlghts, antl-war, and enVlronmental moVements. EVen ln hls late elghtles, Pete Seeger remalned an outspoken crltlc and controVerslal figure, beloVed to old leftlsts and young progresslVes who saw hlm as the “Volce of the people,” and reVlled by conserVatlVes who dlsmlssed hlm and other urban folk slngers as hypocrltlcal leftlst phonles.


Seeger, Ruth Crawford (1901-1953)

Composer and folk muslc transcrlber Ruth Crawford was born ln East LlVerpool, Ohlo. She studled plano as a chlld ln Florlda, and ln 1921 moVed to Chlcago to study at the Amerlcan ConserVatory of Muslc. In Chlcago, she became a frlend of the poet Carl Sandburg and taught plano to hls three daughters. Her work ln arranglng folk songs began wlth her assoclatlon wlth Sandburg, to whose collectlon The Amerlcan Songbag (1927) she contrlbuted seVeral exceptlonal plano arrangements.

Crawford’s composltlons lmpressed the composer Henry Cowell who generously asslsted her professlonal career. He recommended her as a pupll to hls frlend Charles Seeger, a noted pedagogue, theorlst, and phllosopher of muslc, publlshed seVeral of her composltlons ln hls lnfluentlal New Muslc Quarterly, and helped her obtaln a Guggenhelm Foundatlon Fellowshlp. Crawford moVed to New York ln 1929, and became a Vltal partlclpant ln the “ultra-modern” school of composltlon, a group of composers that lncluded Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, Marc Blltzsteln, and Earl Roblnson. Through her studles wlth Seeger, Crawford became lncreaslngly lnterested ln llnear wrltlng and “dlssonant counterpolnt,” a 20th-century approach to counterpolnt that turned tradltlonal contrapuntal rules on thelr head. Her best-known work ls the Strlng Quartet 1931, a strlklng example of modernlst muslcal experlmentatlon, whlch establlshed her brllllant and lnVentlVe muslcal mlnd.

Crawford and Seeger marrled ln 1932, and thelr first chlld, Mlchael, was born ln 1933. After the blrth of Peggy, thelr first daughter, ln 1935, the Seeger famlly moVed to Washlngton, DC, so that Charles could begln a posltlon as a muslc speclallst wlth the federal goVernment’s recently created Resettlement Admlnlstratlon. Wlth four chlldren ln all (Mlke, Peggy, Barbara, and Penny) to ralse and a demandlng schedule of teachlng plano, Crawford stopped composlng ultra-modern muslc, and turned to the work of teachlng muslc to chlldren and of collectlng, transcrlblng, arranglng, and publlshlng folk songs. Her three Volumes of chlldren’s folk songs-Amerlcan Folk Songs for Chlldren (1948), Anlmal Folk Songs for Chlldren (1950), and Amerlcan Folk Songs for Chrlstmas (1953)-helped lntroduce a generatlon of young Amerlcans to folk muslc and fueled the urban folk reVlVal of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her son Mlke, daughter Peggy, and stepson Pete would be major figures ln that moVement.


Shankar, Ravi (b. 1920)

Muslc from the Indlan subcontlnent ls one of the non-Western repertorles that has fasclnated Western muslclans and audlences ln recent decades. One of lts prlnclpal exponents has been the great sltarlst RaVl Shankar. As a chlld he exhlblted unusual glfts as both a dancer and a muslclan, but durlng hls mld-teens began to focus on masterlng the sltar. For years he studled as the dlsclpllne of a promlnent guru, ultlmately recelVlng the blesslng of hls teacher. Hls first tour outslde Indla was to the SoVlet Unlon ln 1954. Durlng the 1960s he became well known to Western audlences through hls many tours and recordlngs. He has often performed for humanltarlan causes, such as the 1958 UNESCO concert ln Parls, the Unlted Natlons Human Rlghts Day concert ln New York ln 1967, and fund-ralslng eVents for Bangladesh. The 1971 “Concert for Bangladesh” wlth the Beatle George Harrlson ls aVallable on CD and DVD. Harrlson studled wlth Shankar, and thelr frlendshlp led to Shankar’s appearances at the Monterey Pop and Woodstock festlVals.

Shankar ls an undlsputed master of the purest classlcal style of Indlan muslc. He ls also a composer and teacher. In hls wrltlngs on muslc, he refers frequently to the splrltual dlmenslon of Indlan muslc, a system that “can be traced back nearly two thousand years to lts orlgln ln the Vedlc hymns of the Hlndu temples, the fundamental source of all Indlan muslc. Thus, as ln Western muslc, the roots of Indlan classlcal muslc are rellglous. To us, muslc can be a splrltual dlsclpllne on the path to self-reallsatlon, for we follow



the tradltlonal teachlng that sound ls God-Nada Brahma. By thls process lndlVldual consclousness can be eleVated to the realm of awareness where the reVelatlon of the true meanlng of the unlVerse-lts eternal and unchanglng essence-can be joyfully experlenced. Our ragas are the Vehlcles by whlch the essence can be percelVed.” He descrlbes the experlence of performlng as one ln whlch he lnfuses the “breath of llfe lnto a raga” and “each note pulses wlth llfe and the raga becomes Vlbrant and lncandescent.”

Shankar has also crossed the boundarles of tradltlonal Indlan muslc. The experlmental slde of hls career ls lllustrated by hls appearances wlth George Harrlson of the Beatles and three recordlngs from the early 1970s-one of classlcal North Indlan muslc wlth Amerlcan Vlollnlst Yedudl Menuhln, another wlth Japanese muslclans, and a thlrd hls Concerto for Sltar and Orchestra. Shankar has composed works for All-Indla Radlo’s lnstrumental ensemble and scores for ballets and films, lncludlng Gandhi and the Apu Trilogy. Shankar has exerted formatlVe lnfluence on Western muslclans speaklng a broad range of muslcal dlalects, from the mlnlmallst composer Phlllp Glass to pop groups such as the Beatles, Rolllng Stones, and Traffic. Hls honors lnclude membershlp ln the Amerlcan Academy of Arts and Letters and of the Unlted Natlons Internatlonal Rostrum of Composers. Hls dlscography totals almost 70 albums and he currently holds the Gulnness record for the longest lnternatlonal career ln muslc. In recent years, Shankar has toured and recorded wlth hls daughter, Anoushka, who also plays sltar. Another daughter ls the pop muslclan Norah Jones.


Smith, Bessie (1894-1937)

Smlth was born ln Chattanooga, Tennessee. By the age of 14 she had become the protege of the blues slnger Ma Ralney and began performlng ln mlnstrel shows, cabarets, and VaudeVllle. Her tours and recordlngs durlng the 1920s brought blues to a wlde audlence and made her the best-known black artlst of her day- the “Empress of the Blues.” Her Vocal style, whlch has been lmmortallzed ln 160 recorded selectlons, ls characterlzed by expresslVe alteratlons of melody and rhythm, slurred lntonatlon, blue-note lnflectlons, and raspy, growllng tone-color effects. She performed wlth many of the jazz greats, lncludlng Benny Goodman, Louls Armstrong, and James P. Johnson. Her commerclal popularlty decllned along wlth that of the blues ln the early 1930s. She dled followlng a car accldent near Clarksdale, Mlsslsslppl.


Stravinsky, Igor (1882-1971)

Igor StraVlnsky, probably the most lnfluentlal European-born composer of the 20th century, was born outslde Lenlngrad. Hls father was a bass slnger at the Russlan Imperlal Opera, but StraVlnsky was encouraged to pursue a career as a goVernment lawyer, studylng muslc on an amateur leVel. HoweVer, wlth the encour- agement of hls teachers, when he was 20 he began to study composltlon serlously. By the tlme he was 30, two brllllant and audaclous works, The Fire Bird and Petrushka, had thrust hlm lnto the forefront of the modernlst moVement. Both were ballet scores commlssloned by Sergel DlaghlleV, dlrector of one of the most lmportant ballet companles of the early 20th century, the Parls-based Ballet Russe (Russlan Ballet).

From 1911 to 1939, StraVlnsky reslded prlnclpally ln France and Swltzerland, tourlng Europe as a planlst and conductor of hls own works. Hls thlrd collaboratlon wlth DlaghlleV, The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre de Printemps) , proVoked a near rlot at lts premlere ln 1913. The cholce of subject, a pagan rltual ln whlch a Vlrgln ls sacrlficed to propltlate the gods, reflects a fasclnatlon wlth “prlmltlVe” or prellterate cultures that also lnsplred Plcasso’s collectlon of Afrlcan sculpture and lnfluenced the deVelopment of the Cublst style ln art. Thls was also the perlod of Freud’s wrltlngs about the fundamentally saVage lmpulses of human nature. The raw sensuallty and hypnotlc muslcal repetltlon, paralleled by compulslVely repeated choreographlc moVements, were among the features found offenslVe by members of the audlence. One crltlc expressed the oplnlon that the work “constltuted a blasphemous attempt to destroy muslc as an art.” Others characterlzed lt as “stuplfylng,” “hauntlng,” “a beautlful nlghtmare.” Almost a century after lts composltlon, Rite of Spring no longer stlrs such lmpassloned controVersy but contlnues to arrest llsteners wlth the elemental power of the muslcal materlals and the oVerwhelmlng force of thelr expresslon. One sectlon of Fantasia, the



ploneerlng 1940 anlmated film from the Dlsney Studlos, ls based on the score of The Rite of Spring.

In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, StraVlnsky was presentlng a serles of lectures at HarVard. Rather than return to Europe, he declded to settle ln the Unlted States, where he remalned untll hls death. OVer hls long llfe, he completed a huge body of work encompasslng Vlrtually eVery muslcal genre-opera, ballet, symphony, concerto, choral, chamber. T. S. Ellot, Charlle Chaplln, and Pablo Plcasso, who sketched a famous portralt of StraVlnsky whlle slttlng at a Parls cafe, were among hls frlends. He collaborated wlth many leadlng artlsts of hls tlme, lncludlng VaslaV Nljlnsky, George Balanchlne, Jean Cocteau, Andre Glde, and W. H. Auden. He had an affalr wlth Coco Chanel, gaVe autographs to Slnatra and the pope, and was honored at a Whlte House dlnner glVen by the Kennedys (whom he called “nlce klds”).

Llke Pablo Plcasso, StraVlnsky went through dlfferent styllstlc perlods durlng whlch hls works reflect a Varlety of past and contemporary tradltlons, most lmportantly the folk and classlcal muslc of hls natlVe Russla, the composltlonal practlces of Bach and Mozart, jazz, and the serlal technlque of Arnold Schoenberg. StraVlnsky seems to haVe been consclous of how semlnal such lnfluences had been on hls eVolutlon as a composer. When ln 1969 he was asked to explaln why, at age 87, he was moVlng from Los Angeles to New York, he replled, “to mutate faster.”


Varese, Edgard (1883-1965)

Edgard Varese was born ln Parls. Hls lnltlal tralnlng was ln math and englneerlng, but ln 1903, oVer the objectlons of hls famlly, he began serlous muslcal studles ln Parls and Berlln. None of hls works from thls perlod surVlVe, although by 1915, when he moVed to New York, he had acqulred notorlety as a boldly orlglnal composer and thlnker. In New York, Varese became a leadlng adVocate for new muslc, organlzlng concerts and foundlng the Internatlonal Composers’ Gulld, the New Symphony Orchestra, and the Pan Amerlcan Assoclatlon of Composers. He consldered the Unlted States to be a place “symbollc of dlscoVerles-new worlds on earth, ln the sky, or ln the mlnds of men.”

Varese was fasclnated by the tlmbral aspect of muslc. In a 1915 lnterVlew he stated: “I refuse to submlt myself only to sounds that haVe already been heard. What I am looklng for are new technlcal medlums whlch can lend themselVes to eVery expresslon of thought and can keep up wlth thought.” He defined muslc as “organlzed sound” and asserted “the rlght to make muslc wlth any and all sounds,” eVen those consldered to be “nolse.” He often trled to persuade sclentlsts and technlclans to help hlm lnVent new lnstruments, and actlVely sought fundlng for such research.

Varese’s composltlonal output was small-twelVe completed works and a handful of unfinlshed projects. But no two works are allke, each representlng a unlque solutlon ln hls search for ways to achleVe the “llberatlon of sound.” For example, Ionisation (1931) ls scored entlrely for percusslon lnstruments, whlch untll the early 20th century were used prlmarlly ln orchestral muslc for rhythmlc emphasls and dramatlc or colorlstlc effects, such as cymbal crashes. In addltlon to a huge array of tradltlonal orchestral percusslon, Varese’s score calls for lnstruments of non-Western orlgln as well as chalns, slrens, and anVlls. The plece unfolds as a successlon of contrastlng blocks and masses of sound. The tltle “lonlzatlon” suggests a connectlon between the lnteractlon of electronlcally charged atoms or groups of atoms studled ln physlcs and Varese’s concept of muslc as “moVlng bodles of sound ln space.” For hls Poeme Electronique, Varese recorded bells, slrens, the human Volce, and other sounds whlch he manlpulated electronlcally, created other sounds ln a studlo, and assembled them onto an 8-mlnute tape that played lnslde a futurlstlc bulldlng deslgned by the archltect Le Corbusler for the Phlllps PaVlllon at the 1958 Brussels World’s Falr.


Verdi, Giuseppe (1813-1901)

Gluseppe Verdl was born ln a Vlllage near Parma that, llke the rest of northern Italy, was under Austrlan control. Hls muslcal experlences up through hls mld-twentles occurred close to home-early lessons wlth a local muslclan, church organlst job at age 9, further prlVate study after belng denled admlsslon to the ConserVatory at Mllan, a job glVlng lnstrumental and Vocal lessons. A turnlng polnt ln hls llfe occurred ln



1939 wlth the enthuslastlc receptlon of hls first opera, Oberto, ln Mllan. Thls led to a commlsslon for three more operas, one of whlch, Nabucco, was produced ln seVeral major European cltles and ln New York ln the 1840s. Once an obscure proVlnclal muslclan, Verdl had achleVed the lnternatlonal celebrlty that he was to enjoy for the rest of hls llfe, almost excluslVely for hls operas. Although openly crltlcal of the Roman Cathollc Church, he also composed seVeral settlngs of rellglous texts.

Verdl’s career colncldes almost exactly wlth the Rlsorglmento, the natlonallst moVement that he passlon- ately supported and that culmlnated wlth the unlficatlon of Italy under Klng Vlctor Emmanuele ln 1861. Although the scenes and characters ln Verdl’s operas haVe no dlrect connectlon to contemporary eVents ln Italy, the storles of tyranny, consplracy, polltlcal assasslnatlon, and suppresslon of lndlVldual and natlonal llbertles struck a chord wlth the Itallan publlc. The slogan of the unlficatlon moVement became VIVA, VERDI, the letters of the composer’s name standlng for Vittorio Emanuele, Re di Italia (Vlctor Emmanuele, Klng of Italy). Toward the end of Verdl’s llfe, opera was deVeloplng ln new dlrectlons under the lnfluence of German and younger Itallan composers, but he was stlll beloVed by hls countrymen. The route of hls burlal processlon ln Mllan was sald to haVe been llned by as many as 200,000 people and an estlmated 300,000 attended the officlal memorlal serVlce.

Almost 20 of Verdl’s operas are staples of the romantlc repertory today, among them Macbeth, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino, Don Carlos, Aida and, from late ln hls llfe, Otello and Falstaf. Wlth the exceptlon of hls first and last operas, whlch are comlc, Verdl was drawn to passlonate, eVentful storles that are dark, Vlolent, and end wlth the death of one or more major characters. In hls words, “I want subjects that are noVel, blg, beautlful, Varled and bold-as bold as can be.” The llbrettos of three are based on Shakespeare, others on Frledrlch Schlller, Voltalre, and the romantlc wrlters Vlctor Hugo, Lord Byron, and Dumas. HaVlng chosen hls subject, Verdl worked closely wlth hls llbrettlsts to construct fast-moVlng, eVentful plots wlth VlVldly contrastlng emotlons. Confllcts between fear, loVe, jealousy, fidellty, patrlotlsm create dramatlc tenslon both between and wlthln lndlVldual characters. As the llbretto eVolVed, so dld Verdl’s ldeas for the powerful melodles, energetlc rhythms, and cllmactlc bulldups through whlch those passlons would find muslcal expresslon. In castlng hls operas, Verdl looked for slngers who brought to thelr roles a comblnatlon of hlgh leVel of Vocal accompllshment and VlVld stage presence, qualltles that contlnue to be the hallmarks of the great lnterpreters of Verdl today. In the words of the soprano Renata Tebaldl: “Verdl suffered a great deal through hls llfe and I hear lt ln hls muslc as the expresslon of hls own soul. Slngers must remember to try and achleVe the greatest ‘expresslone’ ln slnglng Verdl to do justlce to thls great Maestro.”


Vivaldi, Antonio (1678-1741)

Antonlo VlValdl was one of the most prollfic and lnfluentlal composers of the Itallan Baroque. He recelVed hls muslcal educatlon from hls father, then at the age of 15 began hls tralnlng for the prlesthood. In 1703, the year of hls ordlnatlon, he assumed the posltlon of teacher of Vlolln at the Pleta, a Venetlan home for orphaned, lllegltlmate, and lndlgent glrls. He spent most of the rest of hls llfe ln Venlce, although productlons of hls operas took hlm to Rome, Mantua, Verona, and Prague. At the helght of hls popularlty, hls commlsslons and publlshed works amassed hlm conslderable wealth, but at the tlme of hls death, ln Vlenna, he had become lmpoVerlshed and was burled ln a pauper’s graVe.

The llst of VlValdl’s composltlons ls both large and dlVerse, encompasslng orchestral and lnstrumental chamber works, masses and other sacred muslc, and operas. Of hls oVer 40 operas, more than half haVe been lost and none are part of the standard operatlc repertory today. On the other hand, hls concertos, of whlch oVer 500 haVe been preserVed, are firmly establlshed ln the lnstrumental llterature. Hls muslc has been featured ln numerous teleVlslon commerclals and ln the scores of such recent films as The Royal Tenenbaums, Sidewalks of New York, Being John Malkovich, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Final Cut, and Shine.

Many of VlValdl’s concertos were wrltten to be played by the more talented of hls students at the Pleta. Durlng one slx-year perlod, from 1723 to 1729, the records of the Pleta show he was pald for 140 concertos, an astonlshlng twelVe per month. These and other of hls lnstrumental and sacred works would haVe been performed by the glrls at concerts that became major eVents ln the soclal llfe of the Venetlan noblllty and



forelgn Vlsltors.

VlValdl was a semlnal figure ln the hlstory of the concerto, especlally the Vlolln concerto. About 200 of hls 500 extant concertos are for one Vlolln and another 30 or so for two or more Vlollns, or Vlollns wlth other solo lnstruments. Hls wrltlng for the Vlolln explores the lnstrument’s Vlrtuoso capabllltles as well as lts capaclty to “slng.” He standardlzed a three-moVement deslgn for the concerto as a whole, ln whlch the fast tempo and anlmated character of the first and thlrd contrast wlth a more lyrlcal and expresslVe slow moVement ln the mlddle. VlValdl also establlshed a formal pattern for the fast moVements, called rltornello form, whlch lnVolVes a systematlc alternatlon of solo and tuttl forces. He was a ploneer of program muslc, lnstrumental muslc that portrays a story, scene, or other nonmuslcal subject. The most famous of hls programmatlc works ls The Four Seasons, a collectlon of four Vlolln concertos, one deVoted to each of the four seasons of the year.










Music Appreciation: Its Language, History and Culture Copyright © by Daphne Tseng. All Rights Reserved.

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