University of Illinois Press

Music in American Life

Published by: University of Illinois Press

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Music in American Life

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Crowe on the Banjo

The Music Life of J.D. Crowe

Marty Godbey

In this first biography of legendary banjoist J. D. Crowe, Marty Godbey charts the life and career of one of bluegrass's most important innovators. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowe picked up the banjo when he was thirteen years old, inspired by a Flatt & Scruggs performance at the Kentucky Barn Dance. Godbey relates the long, distinguished career that followed, as Crowe performed and recorded both solo and as part of such varied ensembles as Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys, the all-acoustic Kentucky Mountain Boys, and the revolutionary New South, who created an adventurously eclectic brand of bluegrass by merging rock and country music influences with traditional forms. Over the decades, this highly influential group launched the careers of many other fresh talents such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson._x000B__x000B_With a selective discography and drawing from more than twenty interviews with Crowe and dozens more with the players who know him best, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe is the definitive music biography of a true bluegrass original.

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Cybersonic Arts

Adventures in American New Music

Godon Mumma, Edited by Michelle Fillion

Composer, performer, instrument-builder, teacher, and writer Gordon Mumma has left an indelible mark on the American contemporary music scene. A prolific composer and a innovative French horn player, Mumma is recognized for integrating advanced electronic processes into musical structures, an approach he termed "Cybersonics." Musicologist Michelle Fillion curates a collection of Mumma's writings, presenting revised versions of his classic pieces as well as many unpublished works from every stage of his storied career. Here, through words and astonishing photos, is Mumma's chronicle of seminal events in the musical world of the twentieth century: his cofounding the Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music; his role in organizing the historic ONCE Festivals of Contemporary Music; performances with the Sonic Arts Union; and working alongside John Cage and David Tudor as a composer-musician with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company In addition, Mumma describes his collaborations with composers, performers, dancers, and visual artists ranging from Robert Ashley and Pauline Oliveros to Marcel Duchamp and Robert Rauschenberg.

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Dewey and Elvis

The Life and Times of a Rock 'n' Roll Deejay

Louis Cantor

Beginning in 1949, Dewey Phillips brought rock 'n' roll to the Memphis airwaves by playing Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters on his nightly radio show Red, Hot and Blue. The mid-South's most popular white deejay, "Daddy-O-Dewey" is part of rock 'n' roll history for being the first major disc jockey to play Elvis Presley (and subsequently to conduct the first live, on-air interview with Elvis). This book illustrates Phillips's role in turning a huge white audience on to previously forbidden race music. Using personal interviews, documentary sources, and the oral history collections at the Center for Southern Folklore and the University of Memphis, Louis Cantor presents a very personal view of the disc jockey while arguing for his place as an essential part of rock 'n' roll history.

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Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler

My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass

Barbara Stephens

As charismatic and gifted as he was volatile, Jimmy Martin recorded dozens of bluegrass classics and co-invented the high lonesome sound. Barbara Martin Stephens became involved with the King of Bluegrass at age seventeen. Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler tells the story of their often tumultuous life together. Barbara bore his children and took on a crucial job as his booking agent when the agent he was using failed to obtain show dates for the group. Female booking agents were non-existent at that time but she persevered and went on to become the first female booking agent on Music Row. She also endured years of physical and emotional abuse at Martin's hands. With courage and candor, Barbara tells of the suffering and traces the hard-won personal growth she found inside marriage, motherhood, and her work. Her vivid account of Martin's explosive personality and torment over his exclusion from the Grand Ole Opry fill in the missing details on a career renowned for being stormy. Yet, Barbara also shares her own journey, one of good humor and proud achievements, and filled with fond and funny recollections of the music legends and ordinary people she met, befriended, and represented along the way. Straightforward and honest, Don't Give your Heart to a Rambler is a woman's story of the world of bluegrass and one of its most colorful, conflicted artists.

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The Elocutionists

Women, Music, and the Spoken Word

Emerging in the 1850s, elocutionists recited poetry or drama with music to create a new type of performance. The genre--dominated by women--achieved remarkable popularity. Yet the elocutionists and their art fell into total obscurity during the twentieth century. Marian Wilson Kimber restores elocution with music to its rightful place in performance history. Gazing through the lenses of gender and genre, Wilson Kimber argues that these female artists transgressed the previous boundaries between private and public domains. Their performances advocated for female agency while also contributing to a new social construction of gender. Elocutionists, proud purveyors of wholesome entertainment, pointedly contrasted their "acceptable" feminine attributes against those of morally suspect actresses. As Wilson Kimber shows, their influence far outlived their heyday. Women, the primary composers of melodramatic compositions, did nothing less than create a tradition that helped shape the history of American music.

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Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler

The Life and Times of a Piano Virtuoso

Beth Abelson Macleod

One of the foremost piano virtuosi of her time, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler reliably filled Carnegie Hall. As a "new woman," she simultaneously embraced family life and forged an independent career built around a repertoire of the German music she tirelessly championed. Yet after her death she faded into obscurity. In this first book-length biography, Beth Abelson Macleod reintroduces a figure long, and unjustly, overlooked by music history. Trained in Vienna, Bloomfield-Zeisler significantly advanced the development of classical music in the United States. Her powerful and sensitive performances, both in recital and with major orchestras, won her followers across the United States and Europe and often provided her American audiences with their first exposure to the pieces she played. The European-style salon in her Chicago home welcomed musicians, scientists, authors, artists, and politicians, while her marriage to attorney Sigmund Zeisler placed her at the center of a historical moment when Sigmund defended the anarchists in the 1886 Haymarket trial. In its re-creation of a musical and social milieu, Fannie Bloomfield-Zeisler paints a vivid portrait of a dynamic artistic life.

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Foggy Mountain Troubadour

The Life and Music of Curly Seckler

Penny Parsons

With his trademark mandolin style and unequaled tenor harmonies, Curly Seckler has carved out a seventy-seven-year career in bluegrass and country music. His foundational work in Flatt and Scruggs's Foggy Mountain Boys secured him a place in bluegrass history, while his role in The Nashville Grass made him an essential part of the music's triumphant 1970s revival. Written in close collaboration with Mr. Seckler and those who know him, Foggy Mountain Troubadour is the first full-length biography of an American original. Penny Parsons follows a journey from North Carolina schoolhouses to the Grand Ole Opry stage and the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, from boarding houses to radio studios and traveling five to a car on two-lane roads to make the next show. Throughout, she captures the warm humor, hard choices, and vivid details of a brilliant artist's life as he crisscrosses a nation and a century making music.

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Fritz Reiner, Maestro and Martinet

Kenneth Morgan

This award-winning book, now available in paperback, is the first solid appraisal of the legendary career of the eminent Hungarian-born conductor Fritz Reiner (1888-1963). Personally enigmatic and often described as difficult to work with, he was nevertheless renowned for the dynamic galvanization of the orchestras he led, a nearly unrivaled technical ability, and high professional standards. Reiner's influence in the United States began in the early 1920s and lasted until his death. Reiner was also deeply committed to serious music in American life, especially through the promotion of new scores. In Fritz Reiner, Maestro and Martinet, Kenneth Morgan paints a very real portrait of a man who was both his own worst enemy and one of the true titans of his profession.

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George Gershwin

An Intimate Portrait

Walter Rimler

George Gershwin lived with purpose and gusto, but with melancholy as well, for he was unable to make a place for himself--no family of his own and no real home in music._x000B__x000B_He and his siblings received little love from their mother and no direction from their father. The closest George came to domesticity was his longtime affair with fellow composer Kay Swift. But she remained married to another man while he went endlessly from woman to woman. Only in the final hours of his life did he realize how much he needed her. Fatally ill, unprotected by (and perhaps estranged from) his older brother Ira, he was exiled by Ira's hard-edged wife Leonore from the house that she and the brothers shared, and he died horribly and alone at the age of thirty-eight._x000B__x000B_Nor did Gershwin find a satisfying musical harbor. For years his genius could be expressed only in the ephemeral world of show business, as his brilliance as a composer of large-scale works went unrecognized by highbrow music critics. When he resolved this quandary with his opera Porgy and Bess, critics were unable to understand or validate it. Decades would pass before his most ambitious composition was universally regarded as one of music's lasting treasures and before his stature as a great composer became secure._x000B__x000B_In this book, Walter Rimler makes use of fresh sources, including newly discovered letters by Kay Swift as well as correspondence between and interviews with intimates of Ira and Leonore Gershwin. It is written with spirited prose and contains more than two dozen photographs.

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George Szell

A Life of Music

Michael Charry

This book is the first full biography of George Szell, one of the greatest orchestra and opera conductors of the twentieth century. From child prodigy pianist and composer to world-renowned conductor, Szell's career spanned seven decades, and he led most of the great orchestras and opera companies of the world. A protege of composer-conductor Richard Strauss at the Berlin State Opera, his crowning achievement was his twenty-four-year tenure as musical director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Under Szell's baton, the orchestra developed into one of the world's greatest ensembles, recording extensively and touring triumphantly in the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union, South Korea, and Japan._x000B__x000B_Michael Charry, a conductor who worked with Szell and interviewed him, his family, and his associates, constructs a lively and balanced portrait of Szell's life and work, detailing his personal and musical qualities, his recordings and broadcast concerts, his approach to the great works of the orchestral repertoire, and his famous orchestrational changes and interpretation of the symphonies of Robert Schumann. The book also lists his conducting repertoire and includes a comprehensive discography of Szell's recorded performances.

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