American Art Song and American Poetry

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American Art Song and American Poetry, Second Edition, by Ruth C. Friedberg and Robin Fisher. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2012.; 438 pp., $75.00.


The original three-volume American Art Song and American Poetry by pianist and scholar Ruth C. Friedberg was published in the 1980s. It was a significant achievement and served as an outstanding resource on American art song, American art song composers and the interrelationship between American poetry and song. For the second edition, Friedberg collaborated with Robin Fisher, associate professor of voice at Sacramento State University, to create a revised all-in-one volume that focuses on art song settings of American poetry by American composers from Edward MacDowell (1860-1908) to the present. This new edition has been updated to include a host of additional composers, poets and songs, while showcasing a significant layout upgrade.

The book could serve as an ideal textbook for university song literature courses focused on the American art song. It would also function well as a resource guide for singers and pianists who are studying or performing works from the genre. Those with an appreciation for the art song, American music or American poetry, and who might wish to survey the literature, would also benefit greatly from the book.

The book is organized chronologically into several chapters. Each offers noteworthy samplings from the vast American art song literature, starting with songs by MacDowell, Charles Martin Loeffler (1861-1935) and Charles Griffes (1884-1920), and ending with works by prominent contemporary American song composers such as Libby Larsen (born 1950), John Musto (born 1954) and Jake Heggie (born 1961). …