Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide

Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide

Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide

Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present: A Biographical and Critical Guide

Excerpt

Popular American Composers: From Revolutionary Times to the Present is a biographical guide (the first of its kind) to 130 of the foremost American popular composers of the past and present: ranging chronologically from William Billings (1746-1800) to André Previn (1929-) and alphabetically from Richard Adler to Victor Young. Approximately two thirds of the composers represented in this volume belong to the past; only one third are still alive.

The editor has attempted to make the representation of composers no longer living as comprehensive as possible. In many cases, biographical material on these men is hard to come by and up to now has been inaccessible to the average music lover seeking such information. It is hoped that this volume will fill a long-felt need in musical literature by providing material on past American popular composers whose biographies have not been readily available.

In the case of living popular composers, the editor has necessarily been selective. He has chosen those composers who in his opinion are of most interest to most people by virtue of their success, their productiveness, their contribution to our popular music. This group is not limited to composers from Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood. It includes also composers of art songs which have gained such widespread circulation that they are a part of our popular literature, and composers of instrumental or concert music of popular appeal.

For his material on living composers, the editor has in most cases gone to first-hand sources--the composers themselves. Of the fifty-four living composers found in this volume, forty-one were interviewed by the editor either in New York or in Hollywood; the others were asked for information by mail. To insure accuracy and authority, the editor dispatched to each living composer a first draft of his biography. Forty-five composers were kind enough to return the drafts with appropriate corrections and valuable interpolations and suggestions.

To supplement the biographical material a chronological list of composers and an index of songs and other compositions are included.

Some of the photographs in this volume came from the composers themselves; some were provided by ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers); and still others were found in the archives of the Music Division of the New York Public Library. The editor wishes to express his thanks for these courtesies.

DAVID EWEN

Little Neck, New York . . .

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