Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music (英語) ハードカバー – 2012/7/11
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Joel Sachs offers the first complete biography of one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century American music. Henry Cowell, a major musical innovator of the first half of the century, left a rich body of compositions spanning a wide range of styles. But as Sachs shows, Cowell's legacy extends far beyond his music. He worked tirelessly to create organizations such as the highly influential New Music Quarterly, New Music Recordings, and the Pan-American Association of Composers, through which great talents like Ruth Crawford Seeger and Charles Ives first became known in the US and abroad. As one of the first Western advocates for World Music, he used lectures, articles, and recordings to bring other musical cultures to myriad listeners and students including John Cage and Lou Harrison, who attributed their life work to Cowell's influence. Finally, Sachs describes the tragedy of Cowell's life―his guilty plea on a morals charge, which even the prosecutor felt was trivial, but brought him a sentence of 15 years in San Quentin, of which he served four.
With Sachs's monumental new biography we can now examine all facets of Cowell's entire life and career. His book is a major contribution to US musical scholarship and points scholars of early twentieth-century experimental music in new directions. (Nancy Yunhwa Rao, Journal of the Society for American Music)
gorgeously written ... each page seemingly revealing a nugget of information that history was hitherto reluctant to divulge. (Philip Clark, Gramophone)
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This account of Cowell's life and work provides succinct overviews of his activities as creator, performing pianist, educator, cultural representative, and promoter of his colleagues' works as well. Multitudes of details lead the reader to be in awe at the accomplishments, networking, bravery, and generosity of this gifted artist--who flourished despite a highly impoverished childhood with little schooling, and despite four years in prison (on a charge that today would probably never be prosecuted at all). One also comes away with admiration for the role of his wife, Sidney Robertson Cowell.
A riveting book to be read and treasured not only by musicians and music students, but also by anyone interested in knowing more about how serious creative artists functioned and survived in America during the earlier half of the 20th century. The notes and bibliography provide welcome information about sources for further exploration. Hopefully this excellent and long-awaited book will spur further performances and recordings of Cowell's music. Bravo!
One of the hard knocks Cowell faced was a famous morals charge. Sachs necessarily treats that in considerable detail, objectively and without unnecessary prurience. One hopes that particular issue can now be laid to rest and all future writing about Cowell can get beyond it.
A natural result of reading this book will be to motivate you to listen to more of Cowell's music, and if the book accomplishes only that, reading it will have been time very well spent indeed. Cowell's music has largely dropped out of the regular repertoire, which is another ground for heart-break, because so much of his music is beautiful and wonderful. His later music often reminds me of Schubert, in being at once immediately enjoyable and seemingly simple, but growing more and more interesting on every repeated hearing.
I remember meeting Joel Sachs at the Juilliard school where he was championing new scandinavian
music. At that time, he told me about his work on Cowell, and I am very impressed by the result.
I heard about the book when listening to the BBC3 program "Composer of the Week" where Joel
was a guest presenter on Henry Cowells life and work.
Should be required reading for anyone interested in the cultural history of the United States in the first half of the 20th Century.