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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Classical

Stars & Stripes - celebrating American composers

America is home to some of the worlds most iconic and prolific classical composers. Inspired by the great classical composers from Europe, yet with a distictly American twist, these artists have redefined the classical genre, drawing influence from folk, jazz, blues, Native American and pop styles.

A small selection of these composers and some of their most famous and popular works are listed below.

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein

(1918-1990)

 

Composer, conductor, pianist, teacher, thinker, and adventurous spirit, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) transformed the way Americans and people everywhere hear and appreciate music. Bernstein's successes as a composer ranged from the Broadway stage to concert halls all over the world, where his orchestral and choral music continues to thrive. Bernstein was the recipient of many honors, including the Antoinette Perry Tony Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Theater, eleven Emmy Award, the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award and the Kennedy Center Honors.

Works include:
Candide - Individual songs available for Orchestra
West Side Story - Individual songs available for Orchestra
Mass - Theatre piece - full and reduced version
Trouble in Tahiti - One act opera for Orchestra or Ensemble
Times Square - 5 mins - Orchestra
On the Waterfront (Symphonic Suite) - 22 mins - Orchestra

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

(1898-1937)

 

Critics were often at a loss as to where to place Gershwin's classical music in the standard repertoire and some simply dismissed him, but the music always found favor with the general public. He was very soon widely acclaimed in the concert world as piano virtuoso, conductor and composer. Of Thee I Sing dealt pointedly with social issues of the time and became the first musical comedy to win the Pulitzer Prize. Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess is now recognised as one of the seminal works of American opera and includes such timeless favorites as "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Summertime.". Gershwin's collaboration with his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin, began a partnership that would continue for the rest of the composer's life and would elevate the musical comedy to an American art form.

Works include:
An American in Paris - 16 mins - Orchestra
Rhapsody in Blue - 16 mins - Piano & Orchestra
Porgy and Bess - individual songs available for Orchestra
Cuban Overture - 10 mins - Orchestra
Piano Concerto in F - 33 mins - Solo Piano & Orchestra

Aaron Copland

Aaron Copland

(1900-1990)

 

Aaron Copland's name is synonymous with American music. It was his pioneering achievement to break free from Europe and create concert music that is characteristically American. Aaron Copland was one of the most honored cultural figures in the history of the United States. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Award and the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences "Oscar" were only a few of the honors and awards he received. In addition to composing, Copland conducted, organised concerts, wrote books on music, and served as an American cultural ambassador to the world.

Works include:
Appalachian Spring - 25 mins - Chamber or Full Orchestra
Billy the Kid Suite - 22 mins - Orchestra
Old American Songs Set 1 - 13 mins - Voice & Orchestra
Fanfare for the Common Man - 3 mins - Brass & Percussion
Eight Poems of Emily Dickenson - 20 mins - Voice & Orchestra
El Salón México - 12 mins - Orchestra

John Cage

John Cage

(1912 -1992)

 

John Cage was a pioneer of aleatoric music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. Cage is perhaps best known for his 1952 composition 4′33″, the three movements of which are performed without a single note being played. The piece became one of the most controversial compositions of the twentieth century. Another famous creation of Cage's is the prepared piano (a piano with its sound altered by placing various objects in the strings), for which he wrote numerous dance-related works and a concert pieces.

Works include:
Dance Four Orchestras - 18 mins - Orchestra
Etcetera 2/4 Orchestras - 30 mins - Orchestra & Tape
Quartets I - VIII - 40 mins 24 piece Orchestra
Seventy Four - 12 mins - Full Orchestra
Suite for Piano - 8 mins - Piano and Orchestra
Twenty Nine - 29 mins - Percussion and Strings

Steve Reich

Steve Reich

 

Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for 2008, Steve Reich has been called "...the most original musical thinker of our time" (The New Yorker). His music has been influential to composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. His music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental colour. It also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music (especially jazz). His studies have included the Gamelan, African drumming and traditional forms of chanting the Hebrew scriptures. Over the years his music has significantly grown both in expanded harmonies and instrumentation, resulting in a Pulitzer Prize for his 2007 composition, Double Sextet.

Works include:
Desert Music - 46 mins - Chorus & Orchestra
New York Counterpoint - 11 mins - Clarinet/Sax Ensemble
Different Trains - 25 mins - String Quartet & Tape
Daniel Variations - 30 mins - Large Ensemble & Solo Voices
Sextet - 28 mins - Percussion & Keyboards

Michael Torke

Michael Torke

 

The music of Michael Torke has been called "some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years" (Gramophone). Hailed as "a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation" (New York Times), Torke has created a substantial body of works in virtually every genre, each with a characteristic personal stamp that combines restless rhythmic energy with ravishingly beautiful melodies.

Works include:
Adjustable Wrench - 11 mins - Mixed Ensemble
Rapture - 28 mins - Percussion & Orchestra
Vanda - 12 mins - Keyboard, Brass & Percussion
Slate - 32 mins - For Concertante Group & Orchestra
Purple - 7 mins - Orchestra

John Adams

John Adams

 

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker - John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics toward a more expansive, expressive language, entirely characteristic of his New World surroundings.

Works include:
Nixon in China - Full length opera
On the Transmigration of Souls - 27 mins - Chorus & Orchestra
Son of Chamber Symphony - 23 mins - Chamber Ensemble
Gnarly Buttons - 24 mins - Clarinet and Chamber Ensemble
Short Ride in a Fast Machine - 4 mins - Fanfare for Orchestra Doctor Atomic Symphony - 25 mins - Orchestra

Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty

 

Michael Daugherty is one of the most frequently commissioned, programmed, and recorded composers on the American concert music scene today. Daugherty first came to international attention when the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed his Metropolis Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1994. Since that time, Daugherty’s music has entered the orchestral, band and chamber music repertoire and made him, according to the League of American Orchestras, one of the ten most performed living American composers.

Works include:
Dead Elvis - 10 mins - Bassoon & Chamber Ensemble
Motown Metal - 7 mins - Brass Ensemble
What's that spell? - 13 mins - Chamber Ensemble & Voice
Letters from Lincoln - 25 mins - Baritone & Orchestra
Strut - 6 mins - String Orchestra

 

From the libraries of:

Boosey & Hawkes EAM  
Edition Peters Schott

 

Visit our Classical Catalogue page to search for works by these and other great composers, or apply now!

We look forward to working with you on your next performance!

 

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