|ORCHESTRA : Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; Dance Symphony; Music for the Theatre; Concerto for Piano and Orchestra; Symphonic Ode.|
|CHAMBER Music : Two Pieces for String Quartet; Vitebsk.|
|PIANO : Variations.|
About Aaron Copland:
Bauer Marion. Twentieth Century Music; Howard J. T. Our American Music; Rosenfeld Paul . By Way of Art.
HENRY COWELL, one of the boldest experimenters of the "younger American composers," was born in Menlo Park, California, March 11, 1897. His parents were intellectuals who permitted the boy full freedom in developing himself artistically. Henry Cowell has been, for the most part, self-taught --except for a few courses in music at the University of California and at the Institute for Applied Arts in New York later in life. He tells us that when, as a boy, he first stumbled across an old, decrepit piano, he began at once to experiment with new possibilities on it-- not far different from the experiments which were later to make him one of the most original forces in music.
As a composer, he made an early start. Before his twentieth birthday, he had already composed prolifically, including a symphony and an opera. As he continued with his composition, he became more and more impatient with old musical systems, and sought eagerly for new: horizons for music, new types of expression, new qualities of musical sound. After a long period of experimentation he arrived at his theory of "tone clusters," built upon an overtone series, which liberated harmony from all its former conventions and which permitted it to embrace the whole world of sound. He has elucidated. his theory-- which requires a very special notation-- in a book New Musical Resources, published in 1930. "The result of a study of overtones," he explained, "is to find the importance of relationships in music and to find the measure by which every interval and chord may be related. It is discovered that the sense of consonance, dissonance, and discord is not fixed so that it must be immovably applied to certain combinations, but is relative. It is also discovered that rhythms and tones, which have been thought to be entirely separate musical fundamentals (and still may be so in many ways) are definitely related thru overtone ratios. Therefore the theory proposed may be termed a theory of musical relativity. . . . My interest in the theory underlying new material came about at first thru wishing to explain to myself, as well as to others, why certain materials I felt impelled to use in composition, and which I instinctively felt to be legitimate, have genuine scientific and logical foundation. I therefore made an investigation into the laws of acoustics as applied to musical materials. Some of the results of the investigation convinced me that altho my music itself preceded the knowledge of its theoretical explanation, there had been enough unconscious perception so that the means used were not only in accordance with acoustical law, but are perhaps the best way of amalgamating sounds formerly considered discords; namely by sounding together a number of tones related thru the higher reaches of the overtones, in the same spacing in which they occur in the overtone series."
Needless to say, Cowell's experiments electrified the musical world. In a series of piano recitals of his original com-____________________