Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music

Overview

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 ...

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Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sachs leaves us thinking of Cowell as not just a great American musician but a great American, period." —Booklist

"Gorgeously written...Sachs sets a furious narrative tempo from the get-go, each page seemingly revealing a nugget of information that history was hitherto reluctant to divulge...This man made of music deserves this first biography and a revival too; let's hope Sach's book seals the deal." —Gramophone

"A magisterial biography...Essential." —Choice

"A more complete picture of these years than we could have hoped for. Henry Cowell is a compelling read, but it also offers a remarkable contribution to studies of American musical culture in the twentieth century...Sachs has offered both a captivating biography for the general reader interested in American music and an excellently documented version of the composer's life in which even a dedicated Cowell scholar is sure to find something new and of interest." —ARSC Journal

"Offers a rich discourse not only on the life of Henry Cowell (1897-1965), but also a commentary on the many prolific figures close to him...Joel Sachs has not only deftly navigated through an extraordinary amount of source material but also delivered a riveting account of Cowell the musician. This book will provide a rich resource for anyone with an interest in American music, ethnomusicology, music and politics, and music and society in the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music is an extraordinary contribution to the field." —Notes

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195108958
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/11/2012
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 1,152,163
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Sachs is Professor of Music History, Chamber Music, and New Music Performance at The Juilliard School, where he conducts the New Juilliard Ensemble.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction

Part I — Child to Man
Chapter 1: Clarissa and Harry
Chapter 2: Henry
Chapter 3: Years of Voyage
Chapter 4: The Turning Point
Chapter 5: The Expanding Circle
Chapter 6: Bi-Coastal Life
Chapter 6: Genesis of a Theoretical System
Chapter 8: War
Chapter 9: The Selling of Henry

Part II — International Ultramodernist Virtuoso
Chapter 10: Henry at 25; Olive
Chapter 11: Conquering Europe, First Attempt (1923)
Chapter 12: Attacking the American Market
Chapter 13: Theories, Rationales, Defenses
Chapter 14: Europe Again (1926)
Chapter 15: Making It in America, II
Chapter 16: Europe, Third Act (1929)
Chapter 17: Delivering the Baby — New Musical Resources
Chapter 18: New Projects and old, 1929-1931

Part III — The Frenetic Years
Chapter 19: Europe, IV
Chapter 20: American Interlude
Chapter 21: Europe, V
Chapter 22: The End of Virtuosity
Chapter 23: The New Technology — the Rhythmicon
Chapter 24: The New Technology — Recording
Chapter 25: The New Technology — Radio
Chapter 26: The New Technology — Film
Chapter 27: International Exchange Concerts
Chapter 28: Death of the PAAC
Chapter 29: Surveying American Music
Chapter 30: Surveying the Larger Musical World
Chapter 31: Dance
Chapter 32: Propagating World Music
Chapter 33: Music and Politics
Chapter 34: Henry and his Colleagues
Chapter 35: New Friends, Character Studies
Chapter 36: Old Friends and a Doomed Romance
Chapter 37: Fincancing a Life
Chapter 38: Compositions
Chapter 39: Henry at Thirty-Nine

Part IV — Four Endless Years
Chapter 40: Life Stops
Chapter 41: The Hearing
Chapter 42: Arriving and Adjusting
Chapter 43: Waiting
Chapter 44: The Second Day of Reckoning
Chapter 45: Living With It
Chapter 46: Living With It (continued)
Chapter 47: The Melody Book
Chapter 48: More Ideas
Chapter 49: Toward the Exit

Part V - Life Resumes
Chapter 50: The First Six Months
Chapter 51: Turning Point
Chapter 52: Problem Solved
Chapter 53: A Job at Last
Chapter 54: End of an Era
Chapter 55: The War Effort
Chapter 56: Old Friendships Renewed
Chapter 57: Simplicity and Commentary
Chapter 58: Figs
Chapter 59: A Settled Life
Chapter 60: Creations and Collaboration
Chapter 61: Europe, VI

Part VI — World Traveler
Chapter 62: The Big Trip, I
Chapter 63: The Big Trip, II
Chapter 64: Iran, I
Chapter 65: India, I
Chapter 66: Iran, II
Chapter 67: Change of Plans
Chapter 68: A New Radicalism
Chapter 69: Asia Again
Chapter 70: 1961-63
Chapter 71: The Honored Citizen
Chapter 72: The Cold War
Chapter 73: Last Ideas
Chapter 74: 1963-4
Chapter 75: The Final Chapter
Chapter 76: Who Was Henry?

Postlude
Notes
Bibliography

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