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This book explores the life and works of the pioneering opera composer Robert Ashley, one of the leading American composers of the post-Cage generation. Ashley's innovations began in the 1960s when he, along with Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman, formed the Sonic Arts Union, a group that turned conceptualism toward electronics. He was also instrumental in the influential ONCE Group, a theatrical ensemble that toured extensively in the 1960s. During his tenure as its director, the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor presented most of the decade's pioneers of the performing arts. Particularly known for his development of television operas beginning with Perfect Lives, Ashley spun a long series of similar text/music works, sometimes termed "performance novels." These massive pieces have been compared with Wagner's Ring Cycle for the vastness of their vision, though the materials are completely different, often incorporating noise backgrounds, vernacular music, and highly structured, even serialized, musical structures. _x000B__x000B_Drawing on extensive research into Ashley's early years in Ann Arbor and interviews with Ashley and his collaborators, Kyle Gann chronicles the life and work of this musical innovator and provides an overview of the avant-garde milieu of the 1960s and 1970s to which he was so central. Gann examines all nine of Ashley's major operas to date in detail, along with many minor works, revealing the fanatical structures that underlie Ashley's music as well as private references hidden in his opera librettos._x000B_
Lost and Found
With just forty-one recordings to his credit, Robert Johnson (1911-38) is a giant in the history of blues music. Johnson's vast influence on twentieth-century American music, combined with his mysterious death at the age of twenty-seven, has allowed speculation and myths to obscure the facts of his life. The most famous of these legends depicts a young Johnson meeting the Devil at a dusty Mississippi crossroads at midnight and selling his soul in exchange for prodigious guitar skills. _x000B__x000B_In this volume, Barry Lee Pearson and Bill McCulloch examine the full range of writings about Johnson and sift fact from fiction. They compare conflicting accounts of Johnson's life, weighing them against interviews with blues musicians and others who knew the man. Through their extensive research Pearson and McCulloch uncover a life every bit as compelling as the fabrications and exaggerations that have sprung up around it. In examining Johnson's life and music, and the ways in which both have been reinvented and interpreted by other artists, critics, and fans, Robert Johnson: Lost and Found charts the broader cultural forces that have mediated the expression of African American artistic traditions.
Dreaming in Middletown
Canadian progressive rock band Rush was the voice of the suburban middle class. In this book, Chris McDonald assesses the band's impact on popular music and its legacy for legions of fans. McDonald explores the ways in which Rush's critique of suburban life -- and its strategies for escape -- reflected middle-class aspirations and anxieties, while its performances manifested the dialectic in prog rock between discipline and austerity, and the desire for spectacle and excess. The band's reception reflected the internal struggles of the middle class over cultural status. Critics cavalierly dismissed, or apologetically praised, Rush's music for its middlebrow leanings. McDonald's wide-ranging musical and cultural analysis sheds light on one of the most successful and enduring rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s.
The Life and Music of Ben Webster
For a half century, Ben Webster, one of the "big three" of swing tenors-along with Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young-was one of the best-known and most popular saxophonists. Early in his career, Webster worked with many of the greatest orchestras of the time, including those led by Willie Bryant, Cab Calloway, Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Andy Kirk, Bennie Moten, and Teddy Wilson. In 1940 Webster became Duke Ellington's first major tenor soloist, and during the next three years he played on many famous recordings, including "Cotton Tail." Someone to Watch Over Me tells, for the first time, the complete story of Ben Webster's brilliant and troubled career. For this comprehensive study of Webster, author Frank Büchmann-Møller interviewed more than fifty people in the United States and Europe, and he includes numerous translated excerpts from European periodicals and newspapers, none previously available in English. In addition, the author studies every known Webster recording and film, including many private recordings from Webster's home collection not available to the public. Exhaustively researched, this is a much needed and long overdue study of the life and music of one of jazz's most important artists.
This Is an Orchestra!
Stan Kenton (1911–1979) formed his first full orchestra in 1940 and soon drew record-breaking crowds to hear and dance to his exciting sound. He continued to tour and record unrelentingly for the next four decades. Stan Kenton: This Is an Orchestra! sums up the mesmerizing bandleader at the height of his powers, arms waving energetically, his face a study of concentration as he cajoled, coaxed, strained, and obtained the last ounce of energy from every musician under his control. Michael Sparke’s narrative captures that enthusiasm in words: a lucid account of the evolution of the Kenton Sound, and the first book to offer a critical evaluation of the role that Stan played in its creation. “Michael Sparke’s book, the first general history of the Kenton Orchestra, is the best evaluation yet of Kenton’s 40-year musical development.”—The Wall Street Journal
Marshall Chapman knows Nashville. A musician, songwriter, and author with nearly a dozen albums and a bestselling memoir under her belt, Chapman has lived and breathed Music City for over forty years. Her friendships with those who helped make Nashville one of the major forces in American music culture is unsurpassed. And in her new book, They Came to Nashville, the reader is invited to see Marshall Chapman as never before -- as music journalist extraordinaire. In They Came to Nashville, Chapman records the personal stories of musicians shaping the modern history of music in Nashville, from the mouths of the musicians themselves. The trials, tribulations, and evolution of Music City are on display, as she sits down with influential figures like Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, and Miranda Lambert, and a dozen other top names, to record what brought each of them to Nashville and what inspired them to persevere. The book culminates in a hilarious and heroic attempt to find enough free time with Willie Nelson to get a proper interview. Instead, she's brought along on his raucous 2008 tour and winds up onstage in Beaumont, Texas singing "Good-Hearted Woman" with Willie. They Came to Nashville reveals the daily struggle facing newcomers to the music business, and the promise awaiting those willing to fight for the dream.
The Life of Marty Robbins
Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is the first biography of this legendary country music artist and NASCAR driver who scored sixteen number-one hits and two Grammy awards. Yet even with fame and fortune, Marty Robbins always yearned for more. _x000B__x000B_Drawing from personal interviews and in-depth research, biographer Diane Diekman explains how Robbins saw himself as a drifter, a man always searching for self-fulfillment and inner peace. Born Martin David Robinson to a hardworking mother and an abusive alcoholic father, he never fully escaped the insecurities burned into him by a poverty-stricken nomadic childhood in the Arizona desert. In 1947 he got his first gig as a singer and guitar player. Too nervous to talk, the shy young man walked onstage singing. Soon he changed his name to Marty Robbins, cultivated his magnetic stage presence, and established himself as an entertainer, songwriter, and successful NASCAR driver._x000B__x000B_For fans of Robbins, NASCAR, and classic country music, Twentieth Century Drifter: The Life of Marty Robbins is a revealing portrait of this well-loved, restless entertainer, a private man who kept those who loved him at a distance.
A Theatrical Life
Victor Herbert is one of the giants of American culture. As a musician, conductor, and, above all, composer, he touched every corner of American musical life at the turn of the century, writing scores of songs, marches, concerti, and other works. But his most enduring legacy is on a different kind of stage, as one of the grandfathers of the modern musical theater.Now, Victor Herbert has the biography he deserves. Neil Gould draws on his own experience as a director, producer, and scholar to craft the first comprehensive portrait in fifty years of the Irish immigrant whose extraordinary talents defined the sounds of a generation and made contemporary American music possible.Mining a wealth of sources—many for the first time—Gould provides a fascinating portrait of Herbert and his world. Born in Dublin in 1859, Herbert arrived in the United States in 1886. From his first job in the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera, Herbert went on to perform in countless festivals and concerts, and conduct the Pittsburgh Orchestra. In 1894, he composed his first operetta, Prince Ananias, and by the time of his death in 1924, he’d composed forty-two more—many of them, such as Naughty Marietta, spectacular Broadway hits. Along the way, he also wrote two operas, stage music for the Ziegfeld Follies, and the first full score for a motion picture, The Fall of a Nation.Gould brilliantly blends the musical and the theatrical, classical and popular, the public and the private, in this book. He not only gives a revealing portrait of Herbert the artist, entrepreneur, and visionary, but also recreates the vibrant world of the Herbert’s Broadway. Gould takes us inside the music itself—with detailed guides to each major work and recreations of great performances. He also makes strong connections between Herbert’s breakthrough compositions, such as the operetta Mlle. Modiste, and the later contributions of Rudolf Friml,Sigmund Romberg, Jerome Kern and other giants of the musical theater.As exuberant as Herbert himself, this book is also a chronicle of American popular culture during one of its most creative periods. For anyone enraptured by the sound of the American musical, this book is delightfully required reading.
Essays on His Life and Music
John Weinzweig (19132006) was the pre-eminent Canadian composer of his generation. Influenced by European modernists such as Stravinsky, Berg, and Webern, he was the first Canadian composer to employ serialism, thereby bringing a spirit of innovation to mid-twentieth-century Canadian music. A forceful advocate for modern Canadian composition, Weinzweig played a key role in the founding of the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre during a buoyant and expansive period for the arts in Canada. He was an influential force as a teacher of composition, first with the Royal Conservatory of Music and later with the University of Torontos music faculty.
This first comprehensive study of Weinzweig since his death consists of new essays by composers, theorists, and musicologists. It deals with biographical aspects (the social context of early-twentieth-century Toronto, his activism, his teaching, his early scores for CBC Radio dramas), analyzes his compositional processes and his output (his approach to serialism, his instrumental practice, the presence of jazz elements, the vocal works, the divertimenti), and examines various evaluations of his music (his own in letters, interviews, talks, and writings plus those of critics and scholars, of listeners, and of performers). The essays are framed by the co-editors portrait/assessment of Weinzweig and a brief personal memoir. Much of the content draws on new research in the extensive Weinzweig Fonds at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa.
Supplementing the volume is an audio CD of extracts (some in their first public release), ranging from a 1937 student work to a song cycle of 1994. Read the [http://www.wlupress.wlu.ca/General/beckwith-cherney-cd-notes.pdf Notes and Texts for the CD.]