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Topic: Who is your favorite American composer?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member CString's Avatar
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    Who is your favorite American composer?

    I thought this would be a good in the interest of possibly exposing something new for everyone. With so many different tastes here we're bound to learn about somebody we've never heard of.

    For me it's got to be Aaaron Copland or Charles Mingus. I can't narrow it down any more.

    -Chad
    Me fail English? That's unpossible.

  2. #2

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    Hard to pick a single favorite. Here's a list of possibles (apart from Copland);

    Samuel Barber, David Diamond, Walter Piston, Charles Ives, Elliott Carter, Ned Rorem, Steven Sondheim, Morton Feldman.

    Some more recent composers would include Richard Danielpour, Jennifer Higdon, and Michael Schelle.

    I'm sure I'll think of a dozen or so after I log off. If so I might post a few more.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  3. #3

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    It's not a criticism at all, but I can't quite get my head round how someone can like Samuel Barber and Elliot Carter.

    Personally I'd go for Frank Zappa
    "A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules,often with the assistence of unsuspecting musicians"

  4. #4

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    For real, Steve Reich...
    "A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules,often with the assistence of unsuspecting musicians"

  5. #5

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by deadbeat
    It's not a criticism at all, but I can't quite get my head round how someone can like Samuel Barber and Elliot Carter.

    Personally I'd go for Frank Zappa
    It seems to depend on my mood. Some days only the most complex, atonal, dissonant music will do.

    Zappa! Good thought! I should have thought of him right off.

    I could list Leonard Bernstein while I'm at it. I really only like two of his pieces, but I really, really like them.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  6. #6

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    Edward MacDowell. I think he got kind of a bad rap because he got a lot of his music/composition education in Germany. Since his stuff doesn't sound "American," history's kind of forgotten about him. But the piano concertos, some of his piano sonatas and individual songs are top shelf.
    -E

    "Welcome to Rivendell, Mr. Anderson."

  7. #7

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    A four-way tie:

    Copland
    Gershwin
    Joplin
    Sousa

    These four somehow managed to capture the "essence" of the America of their day, each in their own way.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    I'm going along with danpowers list although I have to say Aaron Copland is my favorite! Just love his string voicing.
    Second, Scott Joplin and the list could go on and on. Then I would have to check it twice...ect, ect....
    Styxx

  9. #9
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    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    I've recently been buying a lot of cheap Naxos CDs. They have a whole series on American composers. In the past month I've picked up CDs by Antheil (I thought he was French, but I guess he was born in America and returned later in life), Carter, Cage and Ive's. If you want to try something different (not that I think Ives is that different, at least in this group) I think this is the way to go as these CDs are high quality and half the price of DG.

    After listening to Lumpy Gravey for the first time in years a few weeks ago I'll also put my vote in for Zappa.
    Trent P. McDonald

  10. #10

    Re: Who is your favorite American composer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy_Rhino
    Edward MacDowell. I think he got kind of a bad rap because he got a lot of his music/composition education in Germany. Since his stuff doesn't sound "American," history's kind of forgotten about him. But the piano concertos, some of his piano sonatas and individual songs are top shelf.
    I agree with you about MacDowell. I think the reason he has been neglected is because his music doesn't "sound" American to our ears. His style was more European. American composers often looked to Europe during the 19th Century for emulation because we hadn't established our own culture that was free from European influence yet. In fact, when MacDowell was alive, culturally, we were trying to imitate EVERYTHING European. Our orchestras were dominated by European conductors, musicians, soloists, etc. (Just read any issue of the "Etude" magazine prior to WWI to see how much we tried to emulate the culture of Europe). It wasn't until after WWI and the advent of Jazz that we started to really find our own culture.
    It's kind of interesting, but Copland got a lot of his training in Paris when he studied with Nadia Boulanger (who taught the veritable list of "who's who" in American Music), YET his sound is a sound that is most often equated with "Americana". I don't think it matters where you get your influences or training - if you can contribute something original and unique, then more power to you. I think that it is harder and harder to do these days.

    Personally, my vote is for Crawford Gates. (B. 1928)



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