Dvori'Ak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots / Edition 1

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Drawing upon a remarkable mix of intensive research and the personal experience of a career devoted to the music about which Dvorák so presciently spoke, Maurice Peress's lively and convincing narrative treats readers to a rare and delightful glimpse behind the scenes of the burgeoning American school of music and beyond.

In Dvorák to Duke Ellington, Peress begins by recounting the music's formative years: Dvorák's three year residency as Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York (1892-1895), and his students, in particular Will Marion Cook and Rubin Goldmark, who would in turn become the teachers of Ellington, Gershwin, and Copland. We follow Dvorák to the famed Chicago World's Fair of 1893, where he directed a concert of his music for Bohemian Honor Day. Peress brings to light the little known African American presence at the Fair: the piano professors, about-to-be-ragtimers; and the gifted young artists Paul Dunbar, Harry T. Burleigh, and Cook, who gathered at the Haitian Pavilion with its director, Frederick Douglass, to organize their own gala concert for Colored Persons Day.

Peress, a distinguished conductor, is himself a part of this story; working with Duke Ellington on the Suite from Black, Brown and Beige and his "opera comique," Queenie Pie; conducting the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass; and reconstructing landmark American concerts at which George Antheil's Ballet Mecanique, George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, James Reese Europe's Clef Club (the first all-black concert at Carnegie Hall), and Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige, were first presented. Concluding with an astounding look at Ellington and his music, Dvorák to Duke Ellington offers an engrossing, elegant portrait of the Dvorák legacy, America's music, and the inestimable African-American influence upon it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Peress has in-depth and first-hand knowledge of the subject as he worked with Ellington, edited and'or orchestrated five of Ellington's symphonic works, and has presented a number of critically acclaimed historically accurate concert recreations...With an unparalleled background in music and research, Peress is uniquely suited to delve into the topic at hand, and does so with skillful results,...there is not a graduate composition or conducting major who would not benefit from reading this highly personal tome." —JCG

"For anyone interested in a good look at a poorly understood line of American musical history, or for anyone interested in a simple, fascinating story of music and genius, Peress's Dvorak to Duke Ellington is a captivating read." —International Musician

"What makes Dvorák to Duke Ellington so compelling is that it is written by an accomplished conductor who collaborated with Ellington late in his life on the orchestration and/or creation of some of his major compositions, most notably Black, Brown, and Beige and Queenie Pie. Among Peress's most significant achievements is his balancing of an almost irrepressible enthusiasm for the music he champions with a more objective judgement that needs to be brought to bear on what is still a raw topic: namely, how do we come to terms with the complicated miscegenation that is American music?"—Symphony

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195098228
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/25/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Lexile: 1400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Maurice Peress is a Professor of Music, Aaron Copland School of Music, City University of New York, and the Graduate School of the City of New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 Antonin Dvorak Comes to America 5
2 America and Negro Music 9
3 Dvorak's Symphony From the New World 19
4 The Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 29
5 The National Conservatory of Music of America 41
6 Paul Laurence Dunbar, Clorindy, and "The Talented Tenth" 53
7 James Reese Europe 61
8 George Gershwin and African American Music 67
9 Leonard Bernstein 79
10 Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue 83
11 The Clef Club Concert 99
12 Will Marion Cook 115
13 George Antheil's Ballet Mecanique 119
14 Bernstein's Mass 137
15 Duke Ellington 153
16 Ellington's Queenie Pie 161
17 Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige 171
Afterword 191
Notes 201
Selected Discography 241
Selected Bibliography 243
Index 245
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