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Music > Individual Composers and Musicians

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Results 61-70 of 116

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Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity Cover

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Johnny Cash and the Paradox of American Identity

Leigh H. Edwards

Throughout his career, Johnny Cash has been depicted -- and has depicted himself -- as a walking contradiction: social protestor and establishment patriot, drugged wildman and devout Christian crusader, rebel outlaw hillbilly thug and elder statesman. Leigh H. Edwards explores the allure of this paradoxical image and its cultural significance. She argues that Cash embodies irresolvable contradictions of American identity that reflect foundational issues in the American experience, such as the tensions between freedom and patriotism, individual rights and nationalism, the sacred and the profane. She illustrates how this model of ambivalence is a vital paradigm for American popular music, and for American identity in general. Making use of sources such as Cash's autobiographies, lyrics, music, liner notes, and interviews, Edwards pays equal attention to depictions of Cash by others, such as Vivian Cash's publication of his letters to her, documentaries and music journalism about him, Walk the Line, and fan club materials found in the archives at the Country Music Foundation in Nashville, to create a full portrait of Cash and his significance as a cultural icon.

Juan Bautista Plaza and Musical Nationalism in Venezuela Cover

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Juan Bautista Plaza and Musical Nationalism in Venezuela

Marie Elizabeth Labonville

Juan Bautista Plaza (1898-1965) was one of the most important musicians in the history of Venezuela. In addition to composing in a variety of genres and styles, he was the leading figure in Venezuelan music education and musicology at a time when his compatriots were seeking to solidify their cultural identity. Plaza's compositions in the emerging nationalist style and his efforts to improve musical institutions in his home country parallel the work of contemporaneous Latin American musicians including Carlos Chávez of Mexico, Amadeo Roldán of Cuba, and Camargo Guarnieri of Brazil.

Plaza's life and music are little studied, and Labonville's ambitious book is the first in English to be based on his extensive writings and compositions. As these and other documents show, Plaza filled numerous roles in Venezuela's musical infrastructure including researcher, performer, teacher, composer, promoter, critic, chapel master, and director of national culture. Labonville examines Plaza's many roles in an attempt to assess how the nationalist spirit affected art music culture in Venezuela, and what changes it brought to Venezuela's musical landscape.

Kaija Saariaho Cover

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Kaija Saariaho

Pirkko Moisala

This book is the first comprehensive study of the music and career of contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho. Born in Finland in 1952, Saariaho received her early musical training at the Sibelius Academy, where her close circle included composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen. She has since become internationally known and recognized for her operas L'amour de loin and Adriana Mater and other works that involve electronic music. Her influences include the spectral analysis of timbre, especially string sounds, micropolyphonic techniques, the visual and literary arts, and sounds in the natural world. Pirkko Moisala approaches the unique characteristics of Saariaho's music through composition sketches, scores, critical reviews, and interviews with the composer and her trusted musicians.

Last Stop, Carnegie Hall Cover

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Last Stop, Carnegie Hall

New York Philharmonic Trumpeter William Vacchiano

Brian A. Shook

William Vacchiano (1912–2005) was principal trumpet with the New York Philharmonic from 1942 to 1973, and taught at Juilliard, the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music, Queens College, and Columbia Teachers College. While at the Philharmonic, Vacchiano performed under the batons of Arturo Toscanini, Bruno Walter, Dimitri Mitropoulos, and Leonard Bernstein and played in the world premieres of almost 200 pieces by such composers as Vaughan Williams, Copland, and Barber. Vacchiano was important not only for his performances, but also for his teaching. His students have held the principal chairs of many major orchestras and are prominent teachers themselves, and they have enriched non-classical music as well. Two of his better known students are Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Last Stop, Carnegie Hall features an overview of the life of this very private artist, based on several personal interviews conducted by Brian A. Shook and Vacchiano’s notes for his own unpublished memoir. Shook also interviewed many of his students and colleagues and includes a chapter containing their recollections. Other important topics include analyses of Vacchiano’s pedagogical methods and his interpretations of important trumpet pieces, his “rules of orchestral performance,” and his equipment. A discography, a bibliography of Vacchiano’s own works, and lists of his students and the conductors and players with whom he performed round out this richly illustrated examination of one of the most influential trumpet players and teachers of the twentieth century.

Life and Times of a Cameroonian Icon: Tribute to Lapiro De Mbanga Ngata Man, The Cover

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Life and Times of a Cameroonian Icon: Tribute to Lapiro De Mbanga Ngata Man, The

This book is the celebration of one man's vendetta against a cancerous regime that thrives on the rape of democracy and human rights abuses. Lapiro de Mbanga, born Lambo Sandjo Pierre Roger on April 7, 1957 was a conduit for social change. He fought for change in his homeland and died fighting for change in Cameroon. Lapiro believed in the innate goodness of man but also had the conviction that absolute power corrupts absolutely. He was noted for contending that "power creates monsters." His entire musical career was devoted to fighting the cause of the downtrodden in Cameroon. He composed satirical songs on the socio-economic dysphonia in his beleaguered country. In his songs, he articulated the daily travails of the man in the street and the government-orchestrated injustices he witnessed. As a songwriter, Lapiro de Mbanga distinguished himself from his peers through bravado, valiance and the courage to say overtly what many a Cameroonian musician would only mumble in the privacy of their homes. Lapiro's anti-establishment music led to his arrest and imprisonment in September 2009 for three years. Released from prison on April 8, 2011 he was later given political asylum by the USA. On September 2, 2012 Lapiro relocated with some members of his family to Buffalo in New York where he died on March 16, 2014 after an illness. His revolutionary music and fighting spirit live on.

The Light Crust Doughboys Are on the Air Cover

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The Light Crust Doughboys Are on the Air

Celebrating Seventy Years of Texas Music

John Mark Dempsey

Millions of Texans and Southwesterners have been touched over the years by the Light Crust Doughboys. From 1930 to 1952, fans faithfully tuned in to their early-morning and, later, noontime radio program, and turned out in droves to hear them play live. The Doughboys embodied the very essence of the “golden era” of radio—live performances and the dominance of programming by advertising agencies. Their radio program began as a way to sell Light Crust Flour. Their early impresario, W. Lee “Pappy” O'Daniel, quickly learned how to exploit the power of radio to influence voters, and he put that lesson to good use to become a two-time Texas governor and the model for Pappy O'Daniel in the movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? But the group was more than a way to push flour; the talented musicians associated with them included Bob Wills and Milton Brown, each of whom receive credit for founding western swing. With the demise of their regular radio program, the Light Crust Doughboys had to remake themselves. Trailblazers in western swing, the Doughboys explored many other musical genres, including gospel, for which they were nominated for Grammys in 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002. They continue to play together with versatility and wide-ranging talent—“official music ambassadors of the Lone Star State” as declared by the state legislature in 1995. Their legendary banjo player, Smokey Montgomery, was with the group for sixty-six years before his death in 2001. For the first time, here is the story of the Doughboys phenomenon, from their debut broadcast to their contemporary live performances. This is a rich slice of Texas musical and broadcasting history. Included inside is a bonus CD containing seventy-two minutes of Doughboys music, from early studio recordings to contemporary tunes.

Living in the Woods in a Tree Cover

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Living in the Woods in a Tree

Remembering Blaze Foley

Sybil Rosen

Living in the Woods in a Tree is an intimate glimpse into the turbulent life of Texas music legend Blaze Foley (1949--1989), seen through the eyes of Sybil Rosen, the woman for whom he wrote his most widely known song, “If I Could Only Fly." It captures the exuberance of their fleeting idyll in a tree house in the Georgia woods during the countercultural 1970s. Rosen offers a firsthand witnessing of Foley’s transformation from a reticent hippie musician to the enigmatic singer/songwriter who would live and die outside society's rules. While Foley's own performances are only recently being released, his songs have been covered by Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, and John Prine. When he first encountered “If I Could Only Fly," Merle Haggard called it “the best country song I've heard in fifteen years." In a work that is part-memoir, part-biography, Rosen struggles to finally come to terms with Foley's myth and her role in its creation. Her tracing of his impact on her life navigates a lovers' roadmap along the permeable boundary between life and death. A must-read for all Blaze Foley and Texas music fans, as well as romantics of all ages, Living in the Woods in a Tree is an honest and compassionate portrait of the troubled artist and his reluctant muse.

Lonesome Melodies Cover

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Lonesome Melodies

The Lives and Music of the Stanley Brothers

David W. Johnson

Carter and Ralph Stanley--the Stanley Brothers--are comparable to Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs as important members of the earliest generation of bluegrass musicians. In this first biography of the brothers, author David W. Johnson documents that Carter (1925-1966) and Ralph (b. 1927) were equally important contributors to the tradition of old-time country music. Together from 1946 to 1966, the Stanley Brothers began their careers performing in the schoolhouses of southwestern Virginia and expanded their popularity to the concert halls of Europe.


In order to re-create this post-World War II journey through the changing landscape of American music, the author interviewed Ralph Stanley, the family of Carter Stanley, former members of the Clinch Mountain Boys, and dozens of musicians and friends who knew the Stanley Brothers as musicians and men. The late Mike Seeger allowed Johnson to use his invaluable 1966 interviews with the brothers. Notable old-time country and bluegrass musicians such as George Shuffler, Lester Woodie, Larry Sparks, and the late Wade Mainer shared their recollections of Carter and Ralph.


Lonesome Melodies begins and ends in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Carter and Ralph were born there and had an early publicity photograph taken at the Cumberland Gap. In December 1966, pallbearers walked up Smith Ridge to bring Carter to his final resting place. In the intervening years, the brothers performed thousands of in-person and radio shows, recorded hundreds of songs and tunes for half a dozen record labels, and tried to keep pace with changing times while remaining true to the spirit of old-time country music. As a result of their accomplishments, they have become a standard of musical authenticity.

Looking Back to See Cover

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Looking Back to See

A Country Music Memoir

The Browns—Maxine, Bonnie, and Jim Ed—are a trio of siblings that had tremendous success in the 1950s and 60s. Following in the tradition of the best of such books, such as Loretta’s Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, this memoir, told in Maxine’s own plucky, spirited style, delves deeply into the Browns’ remarkable past, beginning with a Depression-era childhood in rural south Arkansas.

Lorenzo Da Ponte Cover

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Lorenzo Da Ponte

The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist

Sheila Hodges

Three of the greatest operas ever written—The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte—join the exquisite music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with the perfectly matched libretti of Lorenzo Da Ponte. Da Ponte’s own long life (1749–1838), however, was more fantastic than any opera plot. A poor Jew who became a Catholic priest; a priest who became a young gambler and rake; a teacher, poet, and librettist of genius who became a Pennsylvania greengrocer; an impoverished immigrant to America who became professor of Italian at Columbia University—wherever Da Ponte went, he arrived a penniless fugitive and made a new and eventful life. Sheila Hodges follows him from the last glittering years of the Venetian Republic to the Vienna of Mozart and Salieri, and from George III’s London to New York City.

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