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Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
are distinguished by clear form, impressive melody, and a very elaborate technique." Pisk has also created a reputation as instructor of musical subjects. During the summers of 1931, 1932 and 1933 he taught at the Austrian-American Conservatory in Mondsee. He has also appeared as conductor and pianist in numerous concerts and over numerous radio broadcasts in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.Principal works by Paul Pisk:
ORCHESTRA: Overture; Partita; Konzertarie; Music for Orchestra; Three Psalms (for baritone and orchestra).
CHAMBER MUSIC: First String Quartet; Fantasy for Clarinet and Piano; Trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon; Trio.
CHORAL: Two Female Choruses; Songs with String-Quartet; Der Tod; Three Male Choruses; Broadcasting Song.
Pieces for piano; songs, etc.

About Paul Pisk:

Allgemeine Musikzeitung 55:611May 18, 1928; Anbruch 4:150May 1922.


Walter Piston 1894-

WALTER PISTON was born in Rockland, Maine, on January 20, 1894. His childhood and youth were quite uneventful, and gave no indication that he would become a musician. As a matter of fact, it was art, rather than music, that first attracted him. For a while, he attended art-school in Boston, and revealed so much talent that upon graduation he intended becoming an artist. He studied the violin and piano during leisure hours only because he was sensitive to beauty in any form, music as well as the other arts. However, as he delved deeper into the study of music, he began to realize more and more forcefully how it attracted him. At Harvard University he studied harmony, theory and counterpoint seriously for the first time--and by the time he had learned these subjects tolerably well he knew that he would prefer to specialize in music.

As a result, he went to Paris to devote himself entirely to music study, and under Nadia Boulanger he made amazing progress. In May 1926, he made his debut as composer when a chamber-work of his was performed at an S.M.I. concert in Paris.

Upon returning to America, he became a member of the faculty of the Division of Music at Harvard University. What is much more important is the fact that he definitely placed himself as one of the most gifted of younger American composers at the same time. On March 23, 1928, Walter Piston made his American debut as orchestral composer when Koussevitsky introduced his Symphonic Piece with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was an impressive introduction, and convinced critics that here was a new personality to reckon with. In the Spring of 1932, Stokowski introduced his radical Orchestral Suite, a work in which--as Nicolas Slonimsky informs us--"the old system of tonality all but breaks down." During 1933, Piston made especially vivid impressions at American music festivals at Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, and Rochester. When the Roth String Quartet gave a cycle of modern chamber-music in New York, in 1934, they included Piston String Quartet no. 1. "The work," wrote W. J. Henderson, in review, "displayed skill in construction, in the treatment of the instrumental voices, in the handling of the latest harmonies, and, in the second movement particularly, in the creation of mood."

-193-

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