Monday, July 15, 2019

The Museum of Uncommon Composers #2 - Scott Joplin - The Other American Music - More



The Entertainer (stop right before the last note of the A melody)

You know how it goes. Even the people who have no idea about Scott Joplin's other music know this one. Some of you might have heard the astonishingly idiomatic sounding dixieland arrangement by Gunther Schuller?

Gunther Schuller (first half)

But have you heard this colossal, Lisztian, jazz cover from the late great Henry Butler?

Henry Butler (complete)

And have you heard my personal favorite, this version by Jacob Koller, one of the most promising young musicians of our time?

Jacob Koller (complete)

More than anything else, this is the extraordinary quality of American music - its endless, infinite adaptability. An adaptability we have only begun to explore. Every great song written in this country has a seemingly infinite capacity for covers, adaptations that can utterly transform the simple foundation of popular music into cathedrals of complexity.

This strikes me as the next logical step in the evolution of American popular music, an evolution that is an extraordinarily bittersweet development. The American empire clearly now enters its second half, and as the so called 'Greatest Generation' dies off, so does living memory of an era when America was not clearly the dominant world power. We can no longer remember a world where the center of cultural influence was somewhere other than right here, and from such insularity comes inevitable decline. And as America becomes more isolated in its own points of view, so the American story begins to be codified, and its art canonized into something far more hardened as people have so many memories of American music that they find it much more hard to admit new music into their daily consumption. Just as happened to Europeans around the 1870s, Americans will demand more and more to hear the repertoire of music they already love, they will become much more gatekeeping in their attitudes, much... more... classical. Jazz has long since arrived at this point, so has old time and bluegrass, soon will rock and R&B, and in the sense of samples, hip-hop has already got there. American popular music will calcify into the repertoire of American Classical Music, and be as ossified as any concert hall; while the popular music of the world becomes something from countries very very far afield from us both geographically and spiritually.

Concerts of American music, which once could be counted on to inevitably introduce bands with new songs in every concert, will increasingly be demanded to play old favorites. But with the filtering of less worthwhile repertoire, and with repeated performance of the better among old songs, the standard of performance may become unfathomably steep, because with every performance from a great performer the audience will demand something new, opening up new possibilities for songs we thought we knew everything there was to know about. It's the ultimate revenge of European classical music on the music that made it irrelevant to daily life in America.

But this classical music may in fact turn out to be more interesting even than European classical music. In European classical music, however great the original compositions, and compared to most American popular music, European classical music is Original with a capital 'O', the possibilities of interpretation are minimal at best. The performer, however well remunerated or adored, is in every way the junior partner of the composer; a glorified craftsman, and no matter how many liberties taken, the performer is ultimately a recreative artisan through whom the composer speaks. But in what I believe will become known as American Classical Music, the performer is a full partner, perhaps even the senior partner, through whom the unforeseen musical possibilities of the composers' original material present themselves.


Or take this, Joplin's second most famous rag, the Maple Leaf Rag. We'll start with a piano roll of Joplin.

(Joplin - cut at 1:18) (Jelly Roll Morton - splice in - cut at 1:19) (Earl Hines - splice in - cut at 1:09) (Sidney Bechet - splice in - cut at 1:44) (Emerson Lake & Palmer - splice in - cut at 0:54) (Marcus Roberts - splice in - cut at 1:57) (Jon Baptise - splice in - let finish) (Petite Feet - splice in - let finish)

And we have to assume that whatever they left for the recording microphone is a cleaned up, edited version of all the bizarre experimentations they tried in concert. That was Scott Joplin playing the Maple Leaf Rag, followed by Jelly Roll Morton, Earl Hines, Sidney Bechet - that was definitely the best don't you think? Followed by Emerson Lake & Palmer, then Marcus Roberts. There are all sorts of Marcus Roberts interpretations of it on youtube, completely different from this one. Then Jon Baptiste, Stephen Colbert's band leader. And then finally the avant garde jazz band, Petite Feet, which we finally let go to the B-section so you could experience that jaw dropping drum solo.

In a sense we just saw the process of any piece of music's evolution in performance. Starting with the original conception of the composer, to an adaptation different from what the composer wished in Jelly Roll and Earl, to a kind of pinnacle in Sidney Bechet, that comes with us with the force of revelation of just how extraordinary this music can be. It then attains the kind of ripened decadence of overfamiliarity in Marcus Roberts, to the adaptation for completely different purposes in Jon Baptiste, to complete deconstruction in Petite Feet.

And once all those various interpretive extremes have been exhausted, a piece of music truly has a classical tradition. let's just hear a very simple classical rendering of the piece from 2004, played just about exactly as Joplin wrote it, but with the wisdom of a generations long performing tradition. The pianist is Alexander Peskanov, a Russian-Jewish performer who would seem to have no cultural inheritance from Joplin.

(Alexander Peskanov)

Simple, unaffected, direct, but all manner of subtlety, but with all sorts of barely noticeable colorings and rhythmic emphases that it would probably didn't occur to the composer. This is what it means to have a classical tradition. Music exists in the air, but even classical music does not exist in the sky, it exists here on earth, where there are all sorts of meanings that would have never occurred to the composer or the first generation of performers. And from what lawyers and jurists would call stare decisis; the precedent, the inherited practical wisdom of generations of interpreters, the next performer can form a composite of options that he thinks will create the best performance, so that even the most faithful recreation of a composer's original vision will sound completely different from the composer's own performance.

The Bible says that a properly allotted lifespan is three-score and ten, and that strikes me as likely. So allow me to modestly submit that it usually takes roughly 70 years or so for a cultural artifact to lose the proper context of living memory so that we might begin to appreciate the thing in itself for what it is and perceive what value it might retain when removed from its original use. It was 1973, 71 years after the Maple Leaf Rag brought Joplin to national attention, that the movie The Sting was released - a film about tavern card sharks taking place at the turn of the century which won Best Picture. Joplin's music was the soundtrack, sometimes in Dixieland orchestrations by Gunther Schuller and Marvin Hamlisch. Three years later, Joshua Rifkin released his revolutionary set of Joplin rags on the piano, which made a new case for Joplin's music as concert music as fit for piano recitals as Chopin or Schubert, and in that same year, Gunther Schuller's performing edition of Joplin's only remaining opera, Tremonisha, for which Joplin earned a well-deserved posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Receving at 108 the respect from the classical community he should have received when he was 35.

--------

I propose that like a lot of 19th century light music, only perhaps more so, Joplin's piano rag had two uses. One was the extraverted, rambunctious use within the smoke-filled tavern and burlesque house and brothel, where it was meant as a lubricant social and otherwise to keep the good times rolling, perhaps the way a piano bar still does today, where it was played at extremely peppy tempos (to use slang of Joplin's own time), probably subject among pianists to all sorts of virtuoso tricks and ornamentations and even improvisations, in other words - 'Jazzed up,' in manners that depart so enormously from the score in exactly the way that jazz pianists eventually did within the standards of the real book. or perhaps some by other composers too, or The other was the introverted, private use, where amateur musicians could learn the music at a slow speed in their parlor, and savor the aching harmonic poignancy.


--------


Even if the rhythm is strict, Joplin's music is the ebb and flow of life, the happiness and the sadness, laughter and tears, intermingled together. How many other artists managed this? In most of Shakespeare's plays and characters he could only do it by compartmentalizing them into tragic and comic - occasionally you get a comic figure like Falstaff or Rosalind who manages both. Perhaps it's easier in music: Mozart obviously did it, perhaps a few other composers did it like Schumann and Dvorak and Janacek, certainly Louis Armstrong and The Beatles from more popular genres. But in literature, all I can think of is Chekhov and Dickens, probably Cervantes and Montaigne, perhaps Mark Twain or George Eliot, or maybe Saul Bellow and VS Naipaul from our century, but even among novelists, where you'd think the tragicomic is the main vein, it's tough to think of writers who genuinely make you laugh at the same time as they move you. It's almost easier in the movies when you get it from Jean Renoir and Ozu, Spielberg and Woody Allen, Chaplin, in our era and country you might consider that we get it from Spike Lee and Sophia Coppola, Richard Linklater and Alexander Payne. In TV you definitely get it from The Simpsons and Cheers, perhaps from The (American) Office or My So Called Life, and if you can stomach it these days, you can certainly get it from Louie. But no matter how you square it, look at this honor roll of a list. No matter what the era, this is some of the very greatest creators in the history of art, and this is exactly the mighty sort of company Scott Joplin should take his place within.

-------

Maple Leaf Rag
The Entertainer
The Easy Winners
Euphonic Sounds
Weeping Willow
Country Club - Ragtime Two Step
Solace - A Mexican Serenade
Pine Apple Rag

The Museum of Uncommon Composers #2: Scott Joplin - The Other America - More Beginning



The Entertainer (stop right before the last note of the A melody)

You know how it goes. Even the people who have no idea about Scott Joplin's other music know this one. Some of you might have heard the astonishingly idiomatic sounding dixieland arrangement by Gunther Schuller?


But have you heard this colossal, Lisztian, jazz cover from the late great Henry Butler?


And have you heard my personal favorite, this version by Jacob Koller, one of the most promising young musicians of our time?


More than anything else, this is the extraordinary quality of American music - its endless, infinite adaptability. An adaptability we have only begun to explore. Every great song written in this country has a seemingly infinite capacity for covers, adaptations that can utterly transform the simple foundation of popular music into cathedrals of complexity.

This strikes me as the next logical step in the evolution of American popular music, an evolution that is an extraordinarily bittersweet development. The American empire clearly now enters its second half, and as the so called 'Greatest Generation' dies off, so does living memory of an era when America was not clearly the dominant world power. We can no longer remember a world where the center of cultural influence was somewhere other than right here, and from such insularity comes inevitable decline. And as America becomes more isolated in its own points of view, so the American story begins to be codified, and its art canonized into something far more hardened as people have so many memories of American music that they find it much more hard to admit new music into their daily consumption. Toward the repertoire of music they love, they will become much gatekeeping in their attitudes, much... more... classical. Jazz has already gotten there, so soon will rock and R&B, and in a couple decades, maybe even hip-hop. American popular music will calcify into the repertoire of American Classical Music, and be as ossified as any concert hall; while the popular music of the world becomes something from countries very very far afield from us both geographically and spiritually.

Concerts of American music, which once could be counted on to inevitably introduce bands with new songs in every concert, will increasingly be demanded to play old favorites. But with the repeated performance of old songs, the standard of performance may go up very, very far, because every performance from a great performer will demand something new, opening up new possibilities for songs we thought we knew everything there was to know about them.



--------

I propose that like a lot of 19th century light music, only perhaps more so, Joplin's piano rag had two uses. One was the extraverted, rambunctious use within the smoke-filled tavern and burlesque house and brothel, where it was meant as a lubricant social and otherwise to keep the good times rolling, perhaps the way a piano bar still does today, where it was played at extremely peppy tempos (to use slang of Joplin's own time), probably subject among pianists to all sorts of virtuoso tricks and ornamentations and even improvisations, in other words - 'Jazzed up,' in manners that depart so enormously from the score in exactly the way that jazz pianists eventually did within the standards of the real book. or perhaps some by other composers too, or The other was the introverted, private use, where amateur musicians could learn the music at a slow speed in their parlor, and savor the aching harmonic poignancy.

The Bible says that a properly allotted lifespan is three-score and ten, and that strikes me as likely. So allow me to modestly submit that it usually takes roughly 70 years or so for a cultural artifact to lose the proper context of living memory so that we might begin to appreciate the thing in itself for what it is and perceive what value it might retain when removed from its original use. It was 1973, roughly 70 years after Joplin came to mass attention, that the movie The Sting was released - a movie about tavern card sharks taking place at the turn of the century which featured Joplin's music accompanying the action all throughout, sometimes in Dixieland orchestrations by Gunther Schuller and Marvin Hamlisch. Three years later, Joshua Rifkin released his revolutionary set of Joplin rags on the piano, which made a new case for Joplin's music as concert music as fit for piano recitals as Chopin or Schubert, and in that same year, Gunther Schuller's performing edition of Joplin's only remaining opera, Tremonisha, for which Joplin got a well-deserved posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

--------


Even if the rhythm is strict, Joplin's music is the ebb and flow of life, the happiness and the sadness, laughter and tears, intermingled together. How many other artists managed this? In most of Shakespeare's plays and characters he could only do it by compartmentalizing them into tragic and comic - occasionally you get a comic figure like Falstaff or Rosalind who manages both. Perhaps it's easier in music: Mozart obviously did it, perhaps a few other composers did it like Schumann and Dvorak and Janacek, certainly Louis Armstrong and The Beatles from more popular genres. But in literature, all I can think of is Chekhov and Dickens, probably Cervantes and Montaigne, perhaps Mark Twain or George Eliot, or maybe Saul Bellow and VS Naipaul from our century, but even among novelists, where you'd think the tragicomic is the main vein, it's tough to think of writers who genuinely make you laugh at the same time as they move you. It's almost easier in the movies when you get it from Jean Renoir and Ozu, Spielberg and Woody Allen, Chaplin, in our era and country you might consider that we get it from Spike Lee and Sophia Coppola, Richard Linklater and Alexander Payne. In TV you definitely get it from The Simpsons and Cheers, perhaps from The (American) Office or My So Called Life, and if you can stomach it these days, you can certainly get it from Louie. But no matter how you square it, look at this honor roll of a list. No matter what the era, this is some of the very greatest creators in the history of art, and this is exactly the mighty sort of company Scott Joplin should take his place within.

-------

Maple Leaf Rag
The Entertainer
The Easy Winners
Euphonic Sounds
Weeping Willow
Country Club - Ragtime Two Step
Solace - A Mexican Serenade
Pine Apple Rag

The Museum of Uncommon Composers #2 - Scott Joplin - The Other America - Beginning




The Entertainer (stop right before the last note of the A melody)

You know how it goes. Even the people who have no idea about Scott Joplin's other music know this one. Some of you might have heard the astonishingly idiomatic sounding dixieland arrangement by Gunther Schuller?


But have you heard this colossal, Lisztian, jazz cover from the late great Henry Butler?


And have you heard my personal favorite, this version by Jacob Koller, one of the most promising young musicians of our time?


More than anything else, this is the extraordinary quality of American music - its endless, infinite adaptability. An adaptability we have only begun to explore. Every great song written in this country has a seemingly infinite capacity for covers, adaptations that can utterly transform the simple foundation of popular music into cathedrals of complexity.

--------

I propose that like a lot of 19th century light music, only perhaps more so, Joplin's piano rag had two uses. One was the extraverted, rambunctious use within the smoke-filled tavern and burlesque house and brothel, where it was meant as a lubricant social and otherwise to keep the good times rolling, perhaps the way a piano bar still does today, where it was played at extremely peppy tempos (to use slang of Joplin's own time), probably subject among pianists to all sorts of virtuoso tricks and ornamentations and even improvisations, in other words - 'Jazzed up,' in manners that depart so enormously from the score in exactly the way that jazz pianists eventually did within the standards of the real book. or perhaps some by other composers too, or The other was the introverted, private use, where amateur musicians could learn the music at a slow speed in their parlor, and savor the aching harmonic poignancy.

The Bible says that a properly allotted lifespan is three-score and ten, and that strikes me as likely. So allow me to modestly submit that it usually takes roughly 70 years or so for a cultural artifact to lose the proper context of living memory so that we might begin to appreciate the thing in itself for what it is and perceive what value it might retain when removed from its original use. It was 1973, roughly 70 years after Joplin came to mass attention, that the movie The Sting was released - a movie about tavern card sharks taking place at the turn of the century which featured Joplin's music accompanying the action all throughout, sometimes in Dixieland orchestrations by Gunther Schuller and Marvin Hamlisch. Three years later, Joshua Rifkin released his revolutionary set of Joplin rags on the piano, which made a new case for Joplin's music as concert music as fit for piano recitals as Chopin or Schubert, and in that same year, Gunther Schuller's performing edition of Joplin's only remaining opera, Tremonisha, for which Joplin got a well-deserved posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

--------


Even if the rhythm is strict, Joplin's music is the ebb and flow of life, the happiness and the sadness, laughter and tears, intermingled together. How many other artists managed this? In most of Shakespeare's plays and characters he could only do it by compartmentalizing them into tragic and comic - occasionally you get a comic figure like Falstaff or Rosalind who manages both. Perhaps it's easier in music: Mozart obviously did it, perhaps a few other composers did it like Schumann and Dvorak and Janacek, certainly Louis Armstrong and The Beatles from more popular genres. But in literature, all I can think of is Chekhov and Dickens, probably Cervantes and Montaigne, perhaps Mark Twain or George Eliot, or maybe Saul Bellow and VS Naipaul from our century, but even among novelists, where you'd think the tragicomic is the main vein, it's tough to think of writers who genuinely make you laugh at the same time as they move you. It's almost easier in the movies when you get it from Jean Renoir and Ozu, Spielberg and Woody Allen, Chaplin, in our era and country you might consider that we get it from Spike Lee and Sophia Coppola, Richard Linklater and Alexander Payne. In TV you definitely get it from The Simpsons and Cheers, perhaps from The (American) Office or My So Called Life, and if you can stomach it these days, you can certainly get it from Louie. But no matter how you square it, look at this honor roll of a list. No matter what the era, this is some of the very greatest creators in the history of art, and this is exactly the mighty sort of company Scott Joplin should take his place within.

-------

Maple Leaf Rag
The Entertainer
The Easy Winners
Euphonic Sounds
Weeping Willow
Country Club - Ragtime Two Step
Solace - A Mexican Serenade
Pine Apple Rag

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Museum of Uncommon Composers #1: Henry Cowell - The Great American Composer? (Final Final Draft)

This podcast is about the composers who slipped through history's cracks; composers so distant from the wellspring of cultural history that few were there to listen to them, and therefore few to tell others they're worth hearing; composers of such forward vision that there was no place for them in the world of their present, and the future has yet to catch up with them.

(The Tides of Manaunaun)

(after it's done)
So who's the Great American Composer?

Obviously, this question is half-meaningless. How does anybody quantitize quality? 'Better than' is a very nearly useless term in art, because the qualities of great artists differ so much from one another that the differences make them very nearly incomparable.

All we can do, meaningfully, is talk about the individual qualities of great artists and what makes them great. Even if you want to talk about qualities different artists share in common, the way they go about those qualities is so different from one another that it's impossible to draw a meaningful comparison. If you want to talk about spirituality in American music, then the transcendental chaos of Charles Ives is obviously very different from the simple-spoken austerity of Aaron Copland, which is very different from the mantra-like mesmerism of Philip Glass, which is obviously very different from the oracular opacity of Bob Dylan. It sheds so very little light on them to talk about what's better and what's worse.

So let's do it anyway...

Obviously most people would start with three names: Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Charles Ives....

(play in the background) I love all three of them, but poor Gershwin didn't live to see 39. Great as he already was, we'll never know whether Gershwin could have become the American Mozart or Beethoven who bridged popular and classical music forever. What he packed into his miserably few years is astonishing, and one day the world will hear again the twenty-eight other musicals than Porgy and Bess which mostly collect dust now, or the thousand songs other than I Got Rhythm, not to mention the solo piano pieces, and those few orchestral works that appear on concert programs with regularity oh so mind numbing. But we never got to see Gershwin age, his music is as much the boisterous liturgy of the Roaring Twenties as Fitzgerald its rambunctious bible, but Gershwin's take on the rest of the American story is terra incognita. We will never know how Gershwin would have been inspired by World War II or the Cold War, on rock n'roll and R&B. And just imagine a Gershwin musical about the sixties...

(play in the backgroundObviously we know Aaron Copland's take on the American story - that pastoral, almost spiritual soundscape, containing those huge, open fifths and fourths which seem almost like a sonic incarnation of the limitless open space and opportunity in the American continent, worshipped in their different ways by American settlers and Native Americans alike. And that's not the whole Copland either! On either side of that prayerful music from the Roosevelt era is the harsh, confrontational music of a gay Jewish socialist who could only write music to please the American audiences who hated people like him for so long. But whatever the reason, Copland never reconciled those two sides of his musical personality. He was a mentor to many great American musicians, Leonard Bernstein most famously but dozens of others too, but he was a gatekeeper to as many more. To Copland, even Gershwin and Ives were amateurs, and no matter how visionary, any composer who didn't write music as flawless as Copland's was an amateur, and sometimes their ability to get behind an academic position or performances was flummoxed behind the scene by a composer who perhaps scented a threat to his way of making music. If Copland been willing to express that conflict in his soul more openly, either as a person or as a musician, he might not have found he had much more to say, and his ability to compose past sixty wouldn't have dried up.

(play in the backgroundAnd then there's Charles Ives - who probably has the best claim of the three. He's a composer for a future we still haven't caught up to with an all-inclusive vision of music as something where so many forces jostle together in so many dimensions that any piece of his is a completely different experience every time you listen. It's music whose function is completely different from European music, a more democratic music for a country with a more democratic ethos. An ear accustomed to the orderly kingdom of European harmony will hear only the ugliness of American chaos, but those of us conversant in his musical language can hear so much beauty in his dissonance.

And yet, just like the country of whom he was such a magnificent example, there is a lot of ugliness in Ives too - so much of Ives's music is made of quotes, and he was a Connecticut Yankee WASP whose life was understandably distant enough from the black experience that he never quoted African-American songs, and yet he found space in his music to quote Stephen Foster, the songwriter beloved of Southern minstrel shows. His political beliefs were so reactionary they almost seem progressive - in 1920 he campaigned for a constitutional amendment that is a forerunner of today's movement for Direct Democracy, but in his interpretation was a means to severely limit the power of government. But as democratic as Ives's conception of music was, his entire world was nevertheless the world of New England WASPs, scarcely different from Hawthorne's or Dickinson's - the world of barn dances, holiday parades, parlor entertainments, church hymns, town meetings, and minstrel shows, all of it refracted through the brain of a musical genius with the financial means to develop his talent fully. But when the idyllic world of the rich New England WASP began to die after World War I, Ives's inspiration died with it, and like Copland, he composed nothing for the last thirty years of his life. Genius most certainly exists, and Ives was as much the personification of both the strengths and weaknesses of genius as he was a personification of the same in America itself. Ives existed in that nether-twilight of the human spirit where reactionary and revolutionary meet, and you'd better believe he'd have loved Donald Trump, but take away Ives's human limitations and he would cease to be Ives, and our musical lives would be much poorer.

Some younger musicians who might listen to this podcast would probably suggest a further three - Phillip Glass, Steve Reich, and John Adams, the 'Holy Trinity' of American Minimalism. And while I'm not an uncritical admirer of any of them, I do wonder if there are arguments to be made for all three, but let's let the dust settle on their careers before we attempt any kind of definitive assessment on their music. And then, of course, there are literally hundreds of non-classical composers with a claim, so many of whom might have a stronger claim to musical eminence than anything at all which happened in the tiny realm of American classical music.

Any kind of artistic endeavor is extremely hard, and the demands placed on any kind of artist are herculean for any number of reasons this podcast would elaborate upon. But how much harder are these demands in a country for whom the means of expression, a means like classical music, is not endemic in the country's experience?

(Symphony no. 11 Last Three Movements) So allow me make one other suggestion for a candidate.... a candidate with a vision for music as radical and as inclusive as Charles Ives, but who developed his vision over the course of an entire lifetime, and was open-minded enough to the experience of others to always let new influences give him more to say; who grew up not in the homogenous and rigid confines of small-town Connecticut, but in the radically inclusive environs of the San Francisco area, where Asian-American children were his friends and playmates from the earliest age, and therefore exposed from the earliest age to Japanese, Chinese, and Tahitan music in addition to the Irish and Appalachian music of his parents' families of origin. A composer whose extremely Californian music was suffused with a respect and love for Eastern culture with which he had intimate acquaintance from the earliest age. A man of alternate sexuality jailed in San Quentin for four years for sex with a seventeen year old boy in circumstances for which much evidence points to his being framed - and was then pardoned by the Governor of California two years after his release, and a musician who lived his queer lifestyle openly at a time when to do so was self-evidently dangerous.

John Cage describes this composer as the 'open sesame for new music in America.' A visionary self-taught composer who invented all manner of musical techniques which he often integrated seamlessly into a musical language more instantly communicative than similarly innovative contemporaries like Schoenberg and Varese. A visionary who mentored and championed a whole battalion of other musical visionaries, not from the then quite safe confines of academia, but from the extremely insecure world of music publishing, journalism, and radio. Thanks to Henry Cowell, we not only have the music of Henry Cowell, but the discovery of Charles Ives and Carl Ruggles, and the list of composers for whom Cowell was a consequential mentor is almost like a who's who of North American musical visionaries: Edgard Varese, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Leo Ornstein, George Antheil, Colin McPhee, Carlos Chavez, Lou Harrison and even John Cage. Arnold Schoenberg so esteemed Cowell that Cowell travelled to Schoenberg's composition class in Berlin to guest lecture - in 1932 no less! In the 20s, Bela Bartok just happened upon Cowell practicing his piano music on an ocean-liner and asked Cowell for permission to use Cowell's techniques! And yet this peer of Schoenberg and Bartok is, relatively speaking, utterly forgotten.

(turn up music, play to its conclusion)

That's a 1950's recording of the then-named Louisville Orchestra conducted by Robert Whitney. You just heard the final three movements of Cowell's Eleventh Symphony - entitled 'The Seven Rituals of Music.' It's a miracle of a piece which in twenty-one minutes takes us through the seven stages of an entire life cycle, and posits the kind of music which accompanies each stage. First in the background you heard the fifth movement or stage or ritual, the ritual of magic and imagination, which I can only suppose signifies maturity. Then comes the ritual dance which prepares for war, which I suppose means the war of old age. And then, the seventh, final movement, unmistakably a kind of dirge. I don't know whether the piece takes its cue from Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man speech in As You Like It, but six years after its release, the psychologist Erik Ericksen released his once extremely eminent volume, Identity and the Life Cycle, which posited that a life is lived in seven stages. Cowell, the musician, got there before the intellectual did! But no matter what or where the inspiration's source, this is the kind of deep musical vision you get from Henry Cowell.

(Persian Set


What you're hearing now in the background is the opening of the Persian Set, played by the Leopold Stokowski Symphony Orchestra directed by the great Leopold Stokowski. The piece was written in the mid-50s, a period when the US State Department promoted the achievements of American culture in a way that was simultaneously Machiavellian and not un-noble; by sending its intellectuals to speak and teach in other countries in an effort to win the hearts and minds of influential intelligentsia in the Third World. Cowell spent these years living in Japan, India, and Iran, the result in pieces like this and the gorgeous Madrassa Symphony is a very clear and respectful dialogue between the West and Persian culture.

Much ink has been spilled about cultural appropriation in our day, and it's obviously a very important point in a world where one culture has a centuries long history of exploiting so many other cultures for financial benefit. But what are artists, most of whom are Progressive with a capital-P, supposed to do with all the wisdom and beauty we've learned from other cultures? When we have tools at our disposal that can inspire audiences to greater respect for distant people they'd otherwise view as threats, are we supposed to keep these secrets to ourselves? Many artists try to work around this problem by writing political protest music - but that runs into two very clear problems: 1. Most artists simply don't know as much about politics as they do about the arts, so they are stuck using their art to make simplistic agitprop for subjects whose complexity they're only dimly aware of. 2. The art will only be of interest to the audience members who already hold 99% of the same political views. If an artist wishes to change hearts and minds to be more respectful of difference, the most effective way they can bring audiences to that realization is, by far, to show what is beautiful about these other cultures, and put them into a harmonious context with our own culture. We are all now in the same global ecology, and unless global catastrophe again divides the world, there shall be no reseparation of the world into isolated cultural evolutions. The choice is to either regulate the dialogue of culture so that foreign cultures can inevitably be accorded the kind of respect an artist like Cowell gives them, or to demand that artists segregate the material of other cultures out of their own creations so that the material of other cultures can stay the exclusive property of the part of the world in which it was developed - and that's an impossible demand that can only lead to further ignorance of other cultures, and therefore to further exploitation. 

(turn it up to the ending of the first then play last movement)

Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians lists a catalogue of 966 works written by Henry Cowell! While I was preparing this podcast, I couldn't find recordings of pieces with titles as promising as 'A Burlesque of Billboards,' 'Cauldron of Fire,' 'Creation Dawn,' 'Dance of Evil Hands,' 'Domnou, the Mother of Waters,' 'A Fairy's Dance', 'Fire Cycle', that's just A through F! I still have no idea if any of them are any good at all, but you can't tell me that with titles like that, at least some of them won't be amazing! Cowell wrote twenty-one symphonies, and even now, almost all of us have no idea about some of them and their quality. And even of the ones we have, we are not exactly spoiled for choice with Cowell performances, and that's a problem for every unknown composer.

(First movement of the Concerto for Koto and Orchestra cadenza in background) Music does not happen on the page, it only happens in the air, and it often takes a brilliant performer to crack the music's code. There's a lot of music out there which seems incredibly boring in certain performances, but then a performer comes along who makes sense of it and newer generations never understand why older generations ever had a problem with the music. This is why it's important for every concert to always play a piece the audiences may not immediately understand, because someday, some performer or writer will come along to hear the music who will understand it, and will be able to explain it to you, and pretty soon you'd be unable to imagine your life without that music. Such was once the fate of nearly every composer you've ever loved. But meanwhile, a lot of Henry Cowell's music is still unrecorded. Cowell, like many composers, was far too productive to be entirely consistent. But who cares? At his often though not always achieved best, this is clearly a composer whose work can rival Ives and Gershwin and Copland in its depth and even rival composers with whom he has so much more in common like Stravinsky and Bartok and Messiaen. Compared to nearly any other twentieth century composer, Stravinsky and Bartok have a never ending profusion of recordings made, yet Cowell's music lies almost completely unheard. It's only by hearing all of this music that we can determine what's great by him and what isn't, and judging by what we have, there is a lot more that's great about this music which almost all of us have never heard.

(turn up and play to the end of the movement)

That instrument is the Koto, a Japanese instrument rather like a zither. The soloist in that was Kimio Eto, accompanied by, believe it or not, the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski in 1964. That recording of the first movement of Cowell's Concerto for Koto and Orchestra is from its world premiere performance, and Kimio Eto was nearly as legendary a figure of world music in the postwar period as Ravi Shankar would be few years later.

At the beginning of this podcast you heard the similarly visionary 'The Tides of Mananaun,' played by a young Turkish pianist named Elif Onal.  From the video she seems like she still might have been in conservatory, and she even outplayed Stefan Schleiermacher in a piece that demands reservoirs of concentration and energy. If the first generation is the generation to play the music best, it's probably not music meant to last.

The way Cowell gets those famous noisy sounds you heard at the beginning of the podcast is by his musical invention, the 'tone cluster.' There are a number of ways to achieve a tone cluster on the piano, sometimes it's done with the fist, and sometimes you play it with your forearms - from your elbow to your wrist and sometimes even to your fingertips. Cowell is, in fact, very specific about which notes are struck, and which part of the arm strikes it. In his own words, he said that tone clusters were basically a way of fitting more notes into a chord. Here is one of the most blatant of his tone cluster piano pieces: 'Advertisement,' in which the vast majority of the piece is played with the fists. Here is a recording of the composer himself both playing the work and explaining it. (Advertisement).

And now here is Stefan Schleiermacher brilliantly playing a piece mostly with his forearms and elbows. 'The Tiger', based on William Blake's poem of the same name. Listen to this brief and famous poem, and listen to all the things Blake says about the hand and shoulder, the fearful symmetry, the dread hand the seizes the fire, the wings, the twisted sinews, the hammer, the chain, the furnace, and when you hear the music, imagine how the pianist has to contort themself into shape to play this incredibly taxing piece of music.  (the poem) (the music)

There's another important Cowell technique of which he is the inventor: going inside the piano s strumming the strings directly without pressing any keys. It seems amazing to me, but no composer that I know of ever thought of it before Cowell. Here's the result of that, a piece from 1929 called 'The Fairy Answer.' Here's what Cowell himself had to say about the piece:
"The Fairy Answer was composed after a visit to my grandfather's place in Kildare. An old gardener took me to a certain spot--a glen--and he said 'I hear you're a musician now' and I said 'Yes' and he said 'Well if you'll play your music in one end of the glen, the fairies will come out and answer you from the other end of the glen with their own.' And he looked at me rather quizzically and he said 'Of course if you're very materialistic you might think it was an echo. But then in order that you should know it was not an echo they always change the music about just a little bit so that you will know it's they themselves.'"
(The Fairy Answer)

And then there's The Banshee. I could swear that Ingmar Bergman used this piece in the final act of Fanny and Alexander but I can't find any corroboration for that on this internet. Anyway, this is probably Cowell's most famous work. I needn't elaborate with a description of banshee actually is, though a proper description makes this piece four times as haunting. What's important here is how sophisticated the technique is to get those extremely human-like wailing sounds. It literally took Cowell a number of years to write this extremely brief piece while he experimented to get the exact right sounds. The piece requires a second person on the stage, sitting where the pianist normally would, to press down the piano's damper pedal. That person is sitting where the pianist normally would, while the pianist themself is standing over the piano's body. I'm now going to read you part of the preface in which Cowell by which Cowell instructs his pianist in the various techniques. Pianists always notate which finger should press which key with the numbers 1-5, so Cowell came up with a second methodology of letters to indicate how the pianist should use his fingers.
A: indicates a sweep with the flesh of the finger from the lowest string up to the note given.
B: sweep lengthwise along the string of the note given with the flesh of the finger.
C: sweep up and back from lowest A to highest B-flat given in this composition. 
D: pluck string with the flesh of finger, where written, instead of octave lower
E: sweep along three notes together, in the same manner as B
I'm going to spare you, this goes all the way to L. Some of the instructions include to play with the fingernail, play with the flat of the hand, and my personal favorite direction
H: sweep back and forth in the manner of C, but starting at the same note from both above and below, crossing the sweep in the middle. 
As Krusty the Clown would say (What the hell was that?). but here is a recording from an unnamed music performer, probably Schleiermacher but maybe the composer himself, playing this disturbing, and incredibly difficult piece. (The Banshee) 

A lot of music is just too subversive for a typical classical audience, and some is even too subversive for the average concertgoer at the Bowery Ballroom or the Filimore. In an art gallery, if you are mystified or disturbed by a piece of art, you can always move on to the next piece. But live music holds you captive, it is a hypnotic art of suggestion where the musician dictates the soundscape to your ears. If you find the experience unpleasant, the only options are to walk out, disturb the music, or simply don't go in the first place. In the classical music world where Schoenberg and Bartok still provoke walkouts a century after their musical revolutions, how prepared would an 85 year old whose subscribed to their local symphony for sixty years be for this?

(Atlantis: Movement 6)

That was from Atlantis, this movement is called 'The Pleasure Dance of the Sea Soul,' but all nine movements have exactly these kinds of vocal noises. I suppose you could call this piece a cantata, but it's pretty obvious what are they 'incanting?...'  It was played by the American Symphony, conducted by Leon Botstein, and those extremely brave 'singers' are Heather Buck, Elise Quagliatta, and Jonathan Hays.

(Hymn and Fuguing Tune #2 in background) And yet right alongside this music is the Hymn and Fuguing Tunes, any of the ten of which could be mistaken for something by Copland or Barber. These are melodies of a style that could be sung just as easily to lyrics about Christ in a Congregationalist Church, and improvised upon on an organ by an American Bach.

The greatest artists do not just express in one vein, they express all of life in its many moods and states. Neither tragedy nor comedy is alien to them, loftiness mingles with vulgarity, influences from the globe's farthest reaches are present along with what they experience directly in front of their eyes. Problematic as the concept clearly is, genius self-evidently exists, some people just saw possibilities the rest of us hadn't, and as destructively as that makes many of them behave, we would still be rubbing sticks for fire without them. We would do well to remember Emerson's definition of Genius: "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty." Many radical intelligentsia would have us believe this isn't so, and quote Rebecca Solnit or Marjorie Garber or Megan Garber, writers of such great gifts, perhaps even genius, that they can formulate the rejected thoughts of readers which laid unconscious in their minds until a highly gifted writer could express them.

But the Emerson quote I just cited is often misused, and people forget the rest of that quote from 'On Self-Reliance', which gives it a very different context:
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
(turn off when it gets to the fuguing tune) Yes, genius most certainly exists, but the possibilities of genius lay dormant in us all, and the ability to capture our most brilliant thoughts is far more common than most of us assume. It is as much luck as gift which exposes any given person to a field in which they are particularly gifted, and many of us go through our lives without knowing that there are places in human endeavor to which we can add possibilities yet undreamt. I don't know if such abilities qualify a person for the label of genius - the word suggested by the illumination of new possibilities is 'brilliance,' not 'genius,' but genius comes from the Arabic word, al-Jinn, and is connected to 'genie' and 'Genesis.' It suggests the very fabric of creation itself, and there will never be more than a handful of Shakespeares, Newtons, Aristotles, or Mozarts. But mental brilliance is far more ubiquitous, and inherent in far more diverse group of people than the world ever before believed. A ripe harvest of brilliance is self-evidently present for anybody willing to search it out, and the more brilliant people we ignore, perhaps because they are from a group you are inherently biased to think incapable of brilliance, or perhaps because you think people from the distant past have little to teach you because you believe history is a myth written by the victors, the more our world contents itself to live in darkness.

We're going to end this program with 'The Harp of Life', played again by Stefan Schleiermacher. It's probably my favorite Cowell piece. There's clearly a kinship with Debussy's famous piano piece, The Sunken Cathedral, but this could never be written by anyone else. It's both completely avant grade and completely melodic, it connects us to humanity's distant past at the same time it hurls us into the musical future. It's an encapsulation of all of Cowell's techniques, and uses them to create a piece of music so powerful that how could this composer not have a place in the pantheon among the very greatest? This is music.

(The Harp of Life)

Underrated Composer Playlist #2: Henry Cowell

The Harp of Life
The Fairy Answer
Persian Set
The Banshee
The Tides of Manaunuan
...If He Please
Symphony no. 11 "The Seven Rituals of Music"
Symphony no. 13 "Madrassa"
St. Agnes' Morning
The Voice of Lir
The Tiger
Advertisement
Hymn and Fuguing Tunes
Mosaic Quartet
Concerto for Koto and Orchestra
Atlantis
Set of Five
Ancient Desert Drone
Rest
Concerto Piccolo
Rhythmicana I
Rhythmicana III
Deep Song
Return
Dynamic Motion
Movement for String Quartet
The Fairy Bells

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Museum of Uncommon Composers: First Set Schedule

A Schedule that Makes My Mouth Water:

American: Henry Cowell
The Other America: Scott Joplin
French: Darius Milhaud
English: Thomas Weelkes
Non-European Descent: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Woman: Lilli Boulanger
Jewish: Pavel Haas
German: Karl Amadeus Hartmann
Russian Empire: Alfred Schnittke
Central Europe: Josef Suk
Northern Europe: Rued Langgaard
Southern Europe: Alessandro Striggio
African-American Popular Tradition: Nina Simone
European-American Popular Tradition: Frank Zappa
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Ali Farka Toure
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Tropicalia ou Panis et Circenis
International Traditions: Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, and Ali Akbar Khan - Hindustani Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer - TBD

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Museum of Uncommon Composers: Schedule - Draft 4


American: Henry Cowell
French: Charles Koechlin
English: Thomas Weelkes
Non-European Descent: Heitor Villa-Lobos
Woman: Lilli Boulanger
Jewish: Ernest Bloch
German: Max Bruch
Russian Empire: Alfred Schnittke
Little Europe: Rued Langgaard
Southern Europe: Alessandro Striggio
African-American Popular Tradition: Duke Ellington
European-American Popular Tradition: Frank Zappa
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Guahar Jan
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Esquivel 
International Traditions: Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan, and Ali Akbar Khan - Hindustani Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: William Billings
French: Guillaume Machaut
English: John Foulds
Non-European Descent: Scott Joplin
Woman: Ruth Crawford 
Jewish: Joseph Achron
German: Karl Amadeus Hartmann
Russian Empire: Veljo Tormis
Little Europe: Georges Enescu
Southern Europe: Isaac Albeniz
African-American Popular Tradition: Prince
European-American Popular Tradition: Cole Porter
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Youssou N'Dour
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere:  Astor Piazzola
International Traditions: Tyagarajia, Mutuswamy Dikshitar, Syama Sastri - South Indian Devotional Songs
Unknown Living Composer

American: William Bolcom
French: Florent Schmitt
English: Frank Bridge
Non-European Descent: Alberto Ginastera
Woman: Kaija Saariaho
Jewish: Charles-Valentin Alkan
German: Michael Praetorius
Russian Empire: Mikhail Glinka
Little Europe: Josef Suk
Italian: Luigi Dallapiccola
African-American Popular Tradition: Sun Ra
European-American Popular Tradition: The Brill Building
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Fela Kuti
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Buena Vista Social Club
International Traditions:
Unknown Living Composer

American: Victor Herbert
French: Charles-Valentin Alkan
English: Jon Dunstaple
Non-European Descent: Leo Brouwer
Woman: Germaine Talleferre
Jewish: Paul Ben-Haim
German: Heinrich Schütz
Russian Empire: Einojuhani Rautavaara
Little Europe: Hugo Alfven
Southern Europe: Nikos Skalkottas
African-American Popular Tradition: John Lee Hooker
European-American Popular Tradition: Richard James
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Ahmed Rushdi
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Celia Cruz 
International Traditions: Abe Elenkrieg, Dave Tarras - Klezmer
Unknown Living Composer

American: Terry Riley
French: Clement Janequin
English: Malcolm Arnold
Non-European Descent: Silvestre Revueltas
Woman: Sofia Gubaidulina
Jewish: Walter Braunfels
German: Dietrich Buxtehude
Russian Empire: Mieczieslaw Weinberg
Little Europe: Zoltan Kodaly
Southern Europe: Arriggo Boito
African-American Popular Tradition: James Brown
European-American Popular Tradition: Velvet Underground and Nico
International Popular - Eastern Hemisphere: Amadou & Mariam
International Popular - Western Hemisphere: Antonio Carlos Jobim
International Traditions: Ziryab, Ibn Bajjah, and Mohammed al-Haik - Andalusian Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Carl Ruggles
French: Guillaume Dufay
English: Lord Berners
Non-European Descent: Toru Takemitsu
Woman: Ethel Smyth
Jewish: Paul Dessau
German: Heinrich Schütz
Russian Empire: Peteris Vasks
Little Europe: Bohuslav Martinu
Southern Europe: Enrique Granados
African-American Popular Tradition: Ornette Coleman
European-American Popular Tradition: Brian Wilson
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Bhundu Boys
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Joao Gilberto
International Traditions: Mugham - Azerbaijani Folk Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: La Monte Young
French: Francois Couperin
English: Havergal Brian
Non-European Descent: Tan Dun
Woman: Hildegard von Bingen
Jewish: Hanns Eisler
German: Hans Pfitzner
Russian Empire: Nikolai Kapustin 
Little Europe: Gyorgy Kurtag
Southern Europe: Ferruccio Busoni
African-American Popular Tradition: W. C. Handy
European-American Popular Tradition: Irving Berlin
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Goran Bregovic
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Tito Puente
International Traditions: The Peking Opera
Unknown Living Composer

American: George Antheil
French: Jean-Phillippe Rameau
English: Peter Maxwell Davies
Non-European Descent: Kaikhosoru Sorabji
Woman: Barbara Strozzi
Jewish: Gerald Finzi
German: Jacques Offenbach
Russian Empire: Karol Szymanowski
Little Europe: Josef Bohuslav Foerster
Southern Europe: Girolamo Frescobaldi
African-American Popular Tradition: Nina Simone
European-American Popular Tradition: Bjork
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Mulatu Astatke
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Benny Moré
International Traditions: The Selikos Epitaph - The Music of Ancient Greece
Unknown Living Composer

American: Easley Blackwood
French: Emanuel Chabrier
English: Thomas Tomkins
Non-European Descent: George Walker
Woman: Amy Beach
Jewish: Alexander Goehr
German: Hans Werner Henze
Russian Empire: Alexander Glazunov 
Central European: Jan Dismas Zelenka
Southern Europe: Tomas Luis de Victoria
African-American Popular Tradition: James Brown
European-American Popular Tradition: Keith Jarrett
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Gipsy Kings
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Bob Marley
International Traditions: The Javanese Gamelan - Indonesian Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Harry Partch
French: Frank Martin
English: Peter Warlock
Non-European Descent: Samuel Coleridge Taylor
Woman: Florence Price
Jewish: Berthold Goldschmidt
German: Boris Blacher
Russian Empire: Andrzej Panufnik
Central European: Miloslav Kabelac
Southern Europe: Ruggero Leoncavallo
African-American Popular Tradition: Miles Davis
European-American Popular Tradition: The Gershwins
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Ali Farka Toure
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Vinicius de Moraes
International Traditions: Kayhan Kalhor, Mohammed Reza Shajarian - Persian Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: George Crumb
French: Albert Roussel
English: George Butterworth
Non-European Descent: Carlos Chavez
Woman: Thea Musgrave
Jewish: Pavel Haas
German: Franz Schmidt
Russian Empire: Nikolai Mayakovsky
Little Europe: Ottmar Schoeck
Southern Europe: Joachin Turina
African-American Popular Tradition: Ray Charles
European-American Popular Tradition: Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Getatchew Mekurya
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Tropical ou Panis et Circenis
International Traditions: Gagaku - The Music of the Japanese Imperial Court
Unknown Living Composer

American: Ruth Crawford Seeger
French: Jean-Baptiste Lully
English: Richard Rodney Bennett
Non-European Descent: Bright Sheng
Woman: Elizabeth Maconchy
Jewish: Fromental Halevy
German: Jon Liefs (technically Icelandic but I don't know where else to put him)
Russian Empire: Krzystopf Penderecki
Little Europe: Poul Ruders
Southern Europe: Pietro Mascagni
African-American Popular Tradition:  Louis Armstrong's Hot Five
European-American Popular Tradition: Stephen Sondheim
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Umm Kulthum
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Jose Alfredo Jiménez
International Traditions: The Laotian Classical Orchestra
Unknown Living Composer

American: Morton Feldman
French: Ernest Chausson
English: Michael Tippett
Non-European Descent: Manuel Ponce
Woman: Meredith Monk
Jewish: Bernard Hermann
German: Ernst Krenek
Russian Empire: Gavriil Popov
Little Europe: Per Norgard
Southern Europe: The Brothers Marcello
African-American Popular Tradition: Herbie Hancock
European-American Popular Tradition: Randy Newman
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Shoukichi Kina
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Compay Segunda
International Traditions: Griot - The West African Bard
Unknown Living Composer

American: Marc Blitzstein
French: Marc-Antoine Charpentier
English: John Wilbye
Non-European Descent: Adolphus Hailstork
Woman: Galina Ustvolskaya
Jewish: Erich Wolfgang Korngold
German: Bernd Alois Zimmermann
Russian Empire:  Giya Kancheli  
Central European: Karel Husa
Southern Europe: Luca Marenzio
African-American Popular Tradition: Kanye West
European-American Popular Tradition: Sonic Youth
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: The Drummers of Burundi
Internatioanal Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Carlos Gardel
International Traditions: The Makams - Turkish Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Ned Rorem
French: Henri Dutilleux
English: John Field
Non-European Descent: Daniel Catan
Woman: Rebecca Clarke
Jewish: Hans Krasa
German: Carl Orff
Russian Empire: Erkki-Sven Tuur
Little Europe: Vagn Holmboe
Southern Europe: Gaetano Scelsi
African-American Popular Tradition: Chuck Berry
European-American Popular Tradition: Robert Wyatt
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Nobuo Uematsu
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Zambo Cavero
International Traditions: Yossele Rosenblatt - Cantillation
Unknown Living Composer

American: Lou Harrison
French: Roland de Lassus
English: Oliver Knussen
Non-European Descent: Zhou Long
Woman: Grazyna Bacewicz
Jewish: Gyorgy Kurtag
German: Rudi Stephan
Russian Empire: Ivan Wyschnegradsky
Little Europe: Bedrich Smetana
Southern Europe: Roberto Gerhard
African-American Popular Tradition: John Coltrane
European-American Popular Tradition: Brian Eno
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Jacques Brel
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Cachao Lopez
International Traditions: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Pakistani Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Stephen Albert
French: Charles-Marie Widor
English: John Taverner
Non-European Descent: Henry Burleigh
Woman: Ellen Taffe-Zwillich
Jewish: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
German: Karlheinz Stockhausen
Russian Empire: Cyrillus Kreek
Little Europe: Kurt Atterberg
Southern Europe: Iannis Xenakis
African-American Popular Tradition: Charles Mingus
European-American Popular Tradition: Faust
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Joseph Shabalala & Ladysmith Black Mambazo
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Nemours Jean Baptiste
International Traditions: Piphat - Thai Classical Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: David Diamond
French: Joseph Canteloube
English: Percy Grainger
Non-European Descent: Guo Wenjing
Woman: Chen Yi
Jewish: Darius Milhaud
German: Georg Phillip Telemann
Russian Empire: Aulis Sallinen
Little Europe: Joseph Jongen
Southern Europe: Giuseppe Tartini
African-American Popular Tradition: Art Tatum
European-American Popular Tradition: Popol Vuh
International Popular Tradition - Eastern Hemisphere: King Sunny Ade and his African Beats
International Popular Tradition - Western Hemisphere: Luis Gonzaga
International Traditions: "Elegant Music" - The Music of the Vietnamese Imperial Court
Unknown Living Composer

American: Alan Hovhaness
French: Josquin
English: Frederick Delius
Non-European Descent: Arturo Marquez
Woman: Sally Beamish
Jewish: Leo Ornstein
German: Paul Hindemith
Russian Empire: Sergey Taneyev
Little Europe: Geirr Tveitt
Southern Europe: Giovanni Sgambati
African-American Popular Tradition: Terminator X
European-American Popular Tradition: Pere Ubu
International Popular Tradition - Eastern Hemisphere: Abdullah Ibrahim
International Popular Tradition - Western Hemisphere: Orishas
International Traditions: Purandara Dasa and M. S. Subbulakshmi - Carnatic Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Lukas Foss
French: Leo Delibes
English: Arthur Sullivan
Non-European Descent: Ulysses Kay
Woman: Cecile Chaminade
Jewish: Salamone Rossi
German: Carl Maria von Weber
Russian Empire: Kalevi Aho
Little Europe: Erno Dohnanyi
Southern Europe: Xavier Montsalvage
African-American Popular Tradition: Mary-Lou Williams
European-American Popular Tradition: Noel Coward
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Knono no. 1
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Lecuona Cuban Boys
International Traditions: Qawalli - Sufi Devotional Music
Unknown Living Composer

American: Bernard Hermann classical work
French: Johannes Ockeghem
English: Gustav Holst
Non-European Descent: William L. Dawson
Woman: Imogen Holst
Jewish: Erwin Schulhoff
German: Louis Spohr
Russian Empire: Moritz Moszkowski
Little Europe: Kurt Atterberg
African-American Popular Tradition: Robert Johnson
European-American Popular Tradition: Don Van Vliet
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Muhammed Abdel Wahab
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: BeauSoleil
International Traditions: Voix Bulgares, Dakha Brakha - The Folk Choirs of Eastern Europe
Unknown Living Composer

American: Duke Ellington classical work 
French: Giles Binchoit
English: George Lloyd
Non-European Descent: Halim al-Dabh
Woman: Louise Farrenc
Jewish: Josef Tal
German: Johann Christian Bach
Russian Empire: Wojchiech Kilar
Little Europe: Allen Petersson
Southern Europe: Luigi Boccherini
African-American Popular Tradition: Thelonius Monk
European-American Popular Tradition: Kraftwerk
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Hugh Masekelah
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Baden Powell
International Traditions: Native American Singing Techniques
Unknown Living Composer

American: Walter Piston 
French: Johannes Ockeghem
English: William Alwyn
Non-European Descent: Mozart Carmago Guarneri
Woman: Fanny Mendelssohn
Jewish: Viktor Ullmann
German: Wilhelm Friedmann Bach
Russian Empire: Boris Tchaikovsky
Little Europe: Louis Andriessen
Southern Europe: Ottorino Respighi
African-American Popular Tradition: DJ Premiere
European-American Popular Tradition: Genesis
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Janika Balaž
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Charley Patton
International Traditions: Mariachi Bands
Unknown Living Composer

American: Paul Creston 
French: Jacob Obrecht
English: Frederick Delius
Non-European Descent: Arturo Marquez
Woman: Clara Schumann
Jewish: Leo Weiner
German: Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach
Russian Empire: Dmitri Kabelevsky
Little Europe: Alphonse Diepenbrock
Southern Europe: Domenico Cimarosa
African-American Popular Tradition: John Coltrane
European-American Popular Tradition: Yes
International Popular Music - Western Hemisphere: Perez Prado
International Popular Music - Eastern Hemisphere: Zohar Argov
International Traditions: Islamic liturgical music
Unknown Living Composer

American:
French: 
English: 
Non-European Descent:
Woman: 
Jewish: 
German: 
Russian Empire: 
Little Europe: 
Southern Europe: 
African-American Popular Tradition:
European-American Popular Tradition:
International Popular Music:
International Popular Music:
International Traditions:
Unknown Living Composer