Essential Cowell: Selected Writings on Music
  • Author: Cowell, Henry
  • Binding: Clothbound
  • Pages: 352
  • Size: 6-1/2 x 9-1/2"
  • Pub. Year: 2002
  • ISBN: 0-929701-63-1
  • In Stock: Yes
Price: $35.00
Edited by Dick Higgins.
Preface by Kyle Gann.
Photos, index, discography
Foreword Magazine "Book of the Year" 2002 Gold Medalion

This volume presents for the first time a generous selection from the more than 200 essays and articles written by one of the most original American composers and musical theorists of the twentieth century. There are articles on harmony, melody, notation and music history; essays on vocal innovation, folk music, and the intersection of music with other arts; reviews of concerts and recordings by contemporaries; notes on several of his own works, and several pieces on his life and experiences as a composer. Henry Cowell may be best known as a creator of "tone cluster" compositions, which he began writing while in his early teens, but his influence has been far broader and much deeper. As founder in 1925 of the New Music Society, he became a concert impresario for works by, among others, Carl Ruggles, Arnold Schoenberg, Charles Ives and Leo Ornstein; and publisher from 1927 to 1958 of New Music: A Quarterly of Musical Compositions. His many students included George Gershwin, John Cage, and Lou Harrison, but his interests extended beyond western classical traditions, and his radio program, "Music of the World's Peoples," introduced a large audience to world music long before it was fashionable. Just as Cowell's groundbreaking book of 1930, New Musical Resources, continues to inspire successive generations of composers, Essential Cowell is key to understanding the origins and expanding dimensions of contemporary music.

Jacket photograph: Henry Cowell, 1914, age 17, reproduced courtesy of the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts/Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.


"Though Henry Cowell...was a composer and a music critic of startling originality (as well as a producer, a promoter, a publisher and an ethnomusicologist), he has remained largely a 'background figure' in American music. But editor Dick Higgins' Essential Cowell: Selected Writings on Music promises to bring Cowell's criticism into the spotlight. Gathering together essays on Stravinsky, Bartók, John Cage and many other composers, as well as selections from Cowell's unpublished opus, The Nature of Melody..., this volume will enlighten aficionados of World Music and engage anyone interested in innovative composition."
-- Publishers Weekly 10/29/01

Henry Cowell (1887-1965) was a leading composer, critic and educator who worked largely in the experimental vein of American music. He was born in California and attended Stanford University. Throughout the 1950s he lived in New York City and upstate New York, and taught at the New School...


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