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Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Joel Sachs(Author)

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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, being sentenced to fifteen years in San Quentin ― of which he served four ― after pleading guilty to a morals charge that even the prosecutor felt was trivial. Providing a wealth of insight into Cowell's ideas and philosophy, Joel Sachs lays out a much-needed perspective on one of the giants of twentieth-century American music.

Sachs leaves us thinking of Cowell as not just a great American musician but agreat American, period. (Booklist)With Sachs's monumental new biography we can now examine all facets of Cowell's entire life and career. His book is a major contribution to US musical scholarship and points scholars of early twentieth-century experimental music in new directions. (Nancy Yunhwa Rao, Journal of the Society for American Music)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 acommentary 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 rivetingaccount of Cowell the musician. This book will provide a rich resource for anyone withan interest in American music, ethnomusicology, music and politics, and music andsociety in the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music isan extraordinary contribution to the field. (Notes)

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Book details

  • PDF | 640 pages
  • Joel Sachs(Author)
  • Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (1 July 2015)
  • English
  • 7
  • Music, Stage & Screen

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Review Text

  • By colin tucker on 26 November 2012

    I knew very little about Henry Cowell before reading this exceptionally well-written and utterly involving biography. Cowell, a remarkably talented and to a great extent self-taught avant-garde composer, saw his career nearly destroyed by the U.S. tabloid press in a rabid outburst of homophobia. As a result he served several years in San Quentin and miraculously survived with, it seems, his sense of humour intact, and then went on to achieve recognition as one of the most inspiring figures in American contemporary music. This is not a music-led biography; Sachs concentrates on the personal story of this fascinating man, on his incessant travelling, his left-wing politics, his early poverty, his successful marriage, while at the same time giving just enough information about the music to whet the appetite for hearing it. The research that has gone into the book is detailed and exemplary and it is clearly destined to become established as the definitive biography.


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