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Music > Individual Composers and Musicians
Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the Grawemeyer Award, Aaron Jay Kernis achieved recognition as one of the leading composers of his generation while still in his thirties. Since then his eloquent yet accessible style, emphasis on melody, and willingness to engage popular as well as classical forms has brought him widespread acclaim and admiring audiences. Leta Miller's biography offers the first survey of the composer's life and work. Immersed in music by middle school, and later training under Theodore Antoniou, John Adams, Jacob Druckman, and others, Kernis rejected the idea of distancing his work from worldly concerns and dared to compose on political themes. His Second Symphony , from 1991, engaged with the first Gulf War; 1993's Still Moment with Hymn was a reaction to the Bosnian Genocide; and the next year's Colored Field and 1995's Lament and Prayer dealt with the Holocaust. Yet Kernis also used sources as disparate as futurist agitprop and children's games to display humor in his work. Miller's analysis addresses not only Kernis's wide range of subjects but also the eclecticism that has baffled critics, analyzing his dedication to synthesis and the themes consistent in his work. Informed and engaging, Aaron Jay Kernis gives a rare mid-career portrait of a major American cultural figure. Publication of this book was supported by a grant from the Henry and Edna Binkele Classical Music Fund
Interpreting the Sonatas and Partitas for Violin
Known around the world for his advocacy of early historical performance and as a skilled violin performer and pedagogue, Stanley Ritchie has developed a technical guide to the interpretation and performance of J. S. Bach's enigmatic sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Unlike typical Baroque compositions, Bach's six solos are uniquely free of accompaniment. To add depth and texture to the pieces, Bach incorporated various techniques to bring out a multitude of voices from four strings and one bow, including arpeggios across strings, multiple stopping, opposing tonal ranges, and deft bowing. Published in 1802, over 80 years after its completion in 1720, Bach's manuscript is without expression marks, leaving the performer to freely interpret the dynamics, fingering, bowings, and articulations. Marshaling a lifetime of experience, Stanley Ritchie provides violinists with deep insights into the interpretation and technicalities at the heart of these challenging pieces.
A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music
By age thirty-nine, Blair Kilpatrick had settled into life as a practicing psychologist, wife, and mother. Then a chance encounter in New Orleans turned her world upside down. She returned home to Chicago with unlikely new passions for Cajun music and its defining instrument, the accordion. Captivated by recurring dreams of playing the Cajun accordion, she set out to master it. Yet she was not a musician, was too self-conscious to dance, and didn't even sing in the shower. Kilpatrick's obsession took her from Chicago's Cajun dance scene to a folk music camp in West Virginia, back and forth to south Louisiana, and even to a Cajun festival in France. An unexpected family move brought her to the San Francisco Bay Area, home to the largest Cajun-zydeco music scene outside the Gulf Coast. There she became a protégé of renowned accordionist Danny Poullard, a Louisiana-born Creole and the guiding spirit of the local Louisiana French music community. Engaging, uplifting, and illuminating a unique patch of the American cultural landscape, Accordion Dreams is Kilpatrick's account of the possibility of passion, risk-taking, and change--at any age. Blair Kilpatrick has an independent practice in psychotherapy in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also performs and records with Sauce Piquante, a traditional Cajun-Creole band she founded in the late 1990s. Learn more at www.blairkilpatrick.com
Alban Berg and His World is a collection of essays and source material that repositions Berg as the pivotal figure of Viennese musical modernism. His allegiance to the austere rigor of Arnold Schoenberg's musical revolution was balanced by a lifelong devotion to the warm sensuousness of Viennese musical tradition and a love of lyric utterance, the emotional intensity of opera, and the expressive nuance of late-Romantic tonal practice.
The essays in this collection explore the specific qualities of Berg's brand of musical modernism, and present newly translated letters and documents that illuminate his relationship to the politics and culture of his era. Of particular significance are the first translations of Berg's newly discovered stage work Night (Nocturne), Hermann Watznauer's intimate account of Berg's early years, and the famous memorial issue of the music periodical 23. Contributors consider Berg's fascination with palindromes and mirror images and their relationship to notions of time and identity; the Viennese roots of his distinctive orchestral style; his links to such Viennese contemporaries as Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and his attempts to maneuver through the perilous shoals of gender, race, and fascist politics.
The contributors are Antony Beaumont, Leon Botstein, Regina Busch, Nicholas Chadwick, Mark DeVoto, Douglas Jarman, Sherry Lee, and Margaret Notley.
Bard Music Festival:
Berg and His World Bard CollegeAnnandale-on-Hudson, New YorkAugust 13-15, 2010 and August 20-22, 2010
The music of Alec Wilder (1907-1980) blends several American musical traditions, such as jazz and the American popular song, with classical European forms and techniques. Stylish and accessible, Wilder's musical oeuvre ranged from sonatas, suites, concertos, operas, ballets, and art songs to woodwind quintets, brass quintets, jazz suites, and hundreds of popular songs. In this biography and critical investigation of Wilder's music, Philip Lambert chronicles Wilder's early work as a part-time student at the Eastman School of Music, his ascent through the ranks of the commercial recording industry in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, his turn toward concert music from the 1950s onward, and his devotion late in his life to the study of American popular songs of the first half of the twentieth century. The book discusses some of his best-known music, such as the revolutionary octets and songs such as "I'll Be Around," "While We're Young," and "Blackberry Winter," and explains the unique blend of cultivated and vernacular traditions in his singular musical language.
Immigrant Musician in Ireland
This book outlines the career of one of the most distinguished figures in Irish musical life in the first half of the twentieth century — a Bavarian organist, Aloys Fleischmann senior, whose son would later become Professor of Music in UCC. Fleischmann senior came to international attention through his work with the North Cathedral Choir in Cork, which was regarded as one of the finest of its kind. He was a prolific composer who wrote nearly 400 works, and he was a highly respected teacher whose students included Séan Ó Riada.
Sideman to the Stars
For more than fifty years, Chicago drummer Jimmi Mayes served as a sideman behind some of the greatest musicians and musical groups in history. He began his career playing the blues in the juke joints of Mississippi, sharpened his trade under the mentorship of drum legends Sam Lay and Fred Below in the steamy nightclubs of south Chicago, and hit it big in New York City behind such music legends as Tommy Hunt from the Flamingos, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown.
Mayes played his drums behind blues giants Little Walter Jacobs, Jimmy Reed, Robert Junior Lockwood, Earl Hooker, Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He lived for a while with Motown sensation Martha Reeves and her family and traveled with the Shirelles and the Motown Review. Jimi Hendrix was one of Mayes's best friends, and they traveled together with Joey Dee and the Starliters in the mid-1960s.
Mayes lived through racial segregation, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the integration of rock bands, and the emergence of Motown. He personally experienced the sexual and moral revolutions of the sixties, was robbed of his musical royalties, and survived a musical drought. He's been a pimp and a drug pusher--and lived to tell the tale when so many musicians have not. This sideman to the stars witnessed music history from the best seat in the house--behind the drum set.
Carleen Hutchins—the Art and Science of the Violin
From the time of Stradivari, the mysterious craft of violinmaking has been a closely guarded, lucrative, and entirely masculine preserve. In the 1950s Carleen Maley Hutchins was a grade school science teacher, amateur trumpet player, and New Jersey housewife. When musical friends asked her to trade a trumpet for a $75 viola, she decided to try making one, thus setting in motion a surprising career. A self-taught genius who went head to head with a closed and ancient guild, Hutchins carved nearly 500 stringed instruments over the course of half a century and collaborated on more than 100 experiments in violin acoustics. In answer to a challenge from a composer, she built the first violin octet—a family of eight violins ranging in size from an eleven-inch treble to a seven-foot contrabass, and in register across the gamut of the piano keyboard. She wrote more than 100 technical papers—including two benchmark Scientific American cover articles—founded an international society devoted to violin acoustics, and became the only American and the only woman to be honored in Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of Stradivari.
Hutchins died in 2009 at the age of ninety-eight. The most innovative violinmaker of the modern age, she set out to explore two worlds she knew virtually nothing about—violins and acoustical physics. American Luthier chronicles the life of this unsung woman who altered everything in a world that had changed little in three centuries.
A Life in Music
The first modern biography in English of Russian composer-pianist Anton Rubinstein, this book places Rubinstein within the context of Russian and western European musical culture during the late 19th century, exploring his rise to international fame from humble origins in Bessarabia, as well as his subsequent rapid decline and marginalization in later musical culture. Taylor provides a balanced account of Rubinstein's life and his career as a piano virtuoso, conductor, composer, and as the founder of Russia's first conservatory. Widely considered the virtuosic heir to Liszt, and recognized internationally as an equivalent cultural icon, he performed with most leading musicians of the day, including Liszt himself, Joachim, Clara Schumann, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Saint-Saens, and Ysaÿe.
Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics
"Olaniyan has given us a profound and beautifully integrated book which culminates in a persuasive interpretation of the relationship between Fela's apparently incompatible presentational selves.... The book's accessible and evocative prose is in itself a kind of homage to Fela's continual ability to seduce and astonish.... This is such an attractive book you feel like... ransacking your collection for Fela tapes." -- Karin Barber
"... an indispensable companion to Fela's music and a rich source of information for studies in modern African popular music." -- Akin Euba
Arrest the Music! is a lively musical study of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, one of Africa's most recognizable, popular, and controversial musicians. The flamboyant originator of the "Afrobeat" sound and self-proclaimed voice of the voiceless, Fela used music, sharp-tongued lyrics, and derisive humor to challenge the shortcomings of Nigerian and postcolonial African states. Looking at the social context, instrumentation, lyrics, visual art, people, and organizations through which Fela produced his music, Tejumola Olaniyan offers a wider, more suggestive perspective on Fela and his impact on listeners in all parts of the world.
Placing Fela front and center, Olaniyan underscores important social issues such as authenticity, racial and cultural identity, the relationship of popular culture to radical politics, and the meaning of postcolonialism, nationalism, and globalism in contemporary Africa. Readers interested in music, culture, society, and politics, whether or not they know Fela and his music, will find this work invaluable for understanding the career of an African superstar and the politics of popular culture in contemporary Africa.
African Expressive Cultures -- Patrick McNaughton, general editor