with 'And she was a golden lily in the
dew!'); there are moments here of the
volcanic and savage passion so characteristic of the Negro and his music;
there are moments here of deep cutting
pathos and of high drama, all expressed
in an original and intriguing musical
tongue such as we have not heard before this in the music of any other composer. Nor hope to hear again in the
music of anyone else. Therein lies its
strength and its greatness." Louis Gruenberg, however, did not
attain national importance as one of America's outstanding composers until January 1932, when the Metropolitan
Opera House performed his opera Emperor Jones, based on the famous
play of Eugene O'Neill. Gruenberg had
consulted with Eugene O'Neill for two
years in Paris to discuss the possibilities
of converting Jones into an opera. They
met at midnight and talked for hours,
until Gruenberg persuaded O'Neill not
only to permit him to compose music for
it, but also to make necessary changes
in the play. After having secured O'Neill's consent, Gruenberg rented a
house in Old Orchard, Maine, and there
spent fourteen months working upon the
opera. It remains, to date, not only the
most important work that Louis Gruenberg has produced, but one of the
genuinely important operas created by
an American. "For an American opera
to appear," wrote Olin Downes the
morning after the première, "which not
only stands on its own feet, but represents a treatment of the form that could
only come from a new country and a
young people fully alive to the present
day, is the thing which makes the success of Mr. Gruenberg's opera so gratifying, and so important to the future." Marion Bauer analyzes the musical
importance of Emperor Jones: "The
movement of the music timed to the dramatic action was expertly done. The
mood of Jones, first in his braggadocio,
then in his panic as it increases, is
mirrored in the music. Gruenberg has
achieved a new and original effect in
the opera in treating the orchestra as
background to the exciting and moving
drama. Altho incidental, the music
played apart from the opera would
probably be one of the most extraordinary scores of modern times. The
composer has lost all sense of personality in the primitive force of the music.
Short-breathed phrases follow each
other in rapid succession. The deeper-
toned instruments are used to create a
somber, sinister web over which the
highest registers of the woodwinds and
violins flare up shriekingly. Rhythmically, Gruenberg has made some remarkable effects." Louis Gruenberg is an enthusiastic
traveler--and it is almost impossible
at any time to guess where he is. He
has been to Europe and back twenty-five
times--and each European trip fills him
with new anticipatory delight. When
he settles down, it will probably be in New Mexico, which he adores; he thinks
that he could compose a "really magnificent opera" there. His only hobby is
chess. He used to play a lot with the
late Noguchi, the Japanese scientist, who
was one of his intimate friends. In
music his tastes are varied--ranging
from Bach to the works of the younger
American composers.Principal works by Louis Gruenberg:
|OPERA: The Witch of Brocken; The Bride
of the Gods; The Dumb Wife; Emperor
Jones; Jack and the Beanstalk.|
|ORCHESTRA: Jazz Suite; Symphony; Enchanted Isle; Music to an Imaginary
Ballet; Vagabondia; Moods; Serenade.|
|CHAMBER Music: Four Indiscretions; Daniel Jazz; Quintet.|
About Louis Gruenberg:
Bauer Marion. Twentieth Century Music; Howard J. T. Our American Music.
Modern Music 8:3 November-December 1930.
Important recordings of music by Louis Gruenberg:
VICTOR: "Standin' in de Need of Prayer"
from Emperor Jones ( Tibbett).
Alois Hába 1893-
ALOIS HÁBA, whose experiments
with quarter-tone music have made
his name prominent in modern music,
was born in Vyzovice (Moravia) on
June 21, 1883. His father, a clarinetist,
was a fine musician, and from him Alois
learned not only to appreciate good____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Composers of Today:A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations.
Contributors: David Ewen - Editor, David Ewen - Compiler.
Publisher: H. W. Wilson.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1934.
Page number: 99.
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