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

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
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music. Partly, to make a living; partly, because I do not believe in technical specialization, but rather in the 'encyclopedic man.' But all I do fits into a pattern, clearly understood, which deals with the formulation and exemplification of what I consider the principles and fundamentals of a new Western civilization in America--now slowly in the making. I believe creative artists should be leaders in this, assume social responsibility of a sort, become prophets and 'civilizers' rather than craftsmen lost in technical invention."I absolutely oppose neo-classicism as a defeatist reactionary product of European post-war mentality. And I feel that the curse of modern American artists (and critics, even more!) is their slavery to the tradition of European leadership in culture. Europe now leads only to decadence and utter death. I say this deliberately, as one born in Europe. There are still very great Europeans, just as there are seeds in the decaying leaves on the ground in the Fall. But unless they have become utterly consecrated to the 'New,' their influence is absolutely pernicious to Americans."The best method to produce great music is to be first a great human being. This, however, is not intended to belittle technique. It should be only a means to an end. I work at the piano, because I deal with 'tones,' not black dots on paper. But this has its limitations. One ought to be able to work directly in the resonant substance of all instruments." Rudhyar further confesses that he is interested in "all music which is born of life and arouses more life, and so fulfills a spiritual function." Folk music, but not of Western Europe save Spain, interests him most keenly--and he is particularly fascinated with the Oriental music of Java and Bali. The best music of the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries, ending with Palestrina and Vittoria, is an endless source of inspiration to him. Among the great composers, those who appeal to him most strongly are Wagner, Chopin, Franck, Scriabin, Debussy and the Stravinsky before the Les Noces period; practically nothing of recent European music attracts him, save a few scattered works. He believes firmly in American music and feels that composers such as Carl Ruggles, Charles Ives and Edgar Vargse touch genuine importance.He has only one hobby--and that is Work.Principal works by Dane Rudhyar:
ORCHESTRA : Three Dance Poems; Sinfonietta; Desert Chants; Surge of Fire; Ouranos; Five Stanzas; To the Real; First Symphony; Hero Chants.
Compositions for voice, piano, two pianos, etc.

About Dane Rudhyar:

Rosenfeld Paul. An Hour With American Music.

New York Tribune December 28, 1925.


Carl Ruggles 1876-

"His work is reminiscent of no other man, school or style."-- CHARLES SEEGER

CARL RUGGLES, an important member of the group of "Younger American Composers" was born in Massachusetts in 1876. He attended Harvard University where, taking music courses under Walter Spalding, he was definitely turned towards a musical career. Leaving Harvard, Ruggles went to the West, which he made his temporary home, founding a symphony orchestra in Winona, Minnesota. At the same time, he began serious work in composition. In his early works--a

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