The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel

By Marchand, Rebecca | Notes, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel


Marchand, Rebecca, Notes


The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel. By Walter Simmons. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011. [xi, 425 p. ISBN 9780810857483. $69.95.] Illustrations, discographies, bibliographies, index, compact disc.

The challenges of writing about composers who stand on the edge of the canon are many, including charting a path that will lead toward further research, while having to acknowledge polemics before they sprout. This exhaustively researched tome is the second work by Simmons that unearths histories of underrecognized American composers who, according to the author, have suffered the "Modernist interpretation of musical history, along with many of the assumptions on which it is predicated" (p. 5). His previous volume (Walter Simmons, Voices in the Wilderness: Six American Neo-Romantic Composers, [Lan - ham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2004]), defends composers such as Samuel Barber, Paul Creston, and Vittorio Giannini against the same interpretations. While passionate about his subjects, Simmons falls victim to the pitfalls of historical apologetics. His introduction to the present volume, for example, is only a modestly revamped version of the introduction for the prior volume, which is undoubtedly relevant to both books, but allows Simmons' bias to pervade with a certain sense of defensiveness. He identifies the featured triumvirate (William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin) of the more recent book as "Modern Traditionalists," a category he establishes as distinct from neoromanticism, neoclassicism and "National Populism" (p. 9). The author responds to anticipated criticisms regarding the lack of in-depth musical analysis, classifying the book as a "useful reference tool" (p. 20). This is certainly an apt description, but the author's transparent advocacy wants to push the book toward a subjective dialogue to counter conventional narratives.

Simmons' formulaic approach to each of the chapters is appropriate for a reference book, and the narrative does not read well otherwise, as he is quick to acknowledge (p. 20). Instead, the author has thought fully provided useful subheadings and excellent indexing to facilitate easy navigation. He includes helpful discographies at the end of each chapter, as well as an accompanying compact disc with "representative examples" (p. 20) of each composer's works: Schuman's Judith, Persi chetti's Concerto for Piano, Four Hands, Persi - chetti's Sere nade no. 10 (with two movements omitted), and Mennin's Sym phony no. 6. The disc is not mentioned in the musical discussions, so its analytical usefulness is somewhat limited. It does, however, feature some very fine performances-most notably the one of Mennin's symphony, by the Albany Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Alan Miller. In addition to allowing the compact disc to speak for itself, Simmons does not include any music examples, a decision with which he clearly grappled, according to the introduction (p. 20). The end result is not too damaging, but sometimes elicits cumbersome descriptions which would no doubt be better served by a score citation, for example: "a gestural motif is introduced that proves to be the central unifying idea of the entire [Schuman's String Quartet no. 3]: a note repeated several times, then, falling on an accented downbeat, resolves down a majorsecond, in a "scotch-snap" rhythm, as an augmented-fourth resolving to a major third, within a triadic harmonization" (p. 62).

The three subjects of the book are interconnected not just by stylistic category (Modern Traditionalism), but by professional association with Juilliard. Simmons does not highlight this connection, however, giving only brief mention to the political ill will between Schuman and Mennin, for example. The text focuses on the composers' music, as well as the reception at the time of the works' premieres and thereafter. Simmons draws upon an immense volume of secondary material, but is caught, at least in the cases of Schuman and Persichetti, by heavy reliance upon preexisting works about these composers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Music of William Schuman, Vincent Persichetti, and Peter Mennin: Voices of Stone and Steel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.