American Composers

Edward Strickland, Author Indiana University Press $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-253-20643-5
From these conversations with 11 leading U.S. composers, a trio of narratives emerges. One narrative concerns American music's metamorphosis into an art form of striking vitality. ``Profoundly disenchanted with the European hegemony in contemporary music,'' in the words of John Adams, these composers evolved galvanizing, highly individual styles. Steve Reich explains how his work draws not only from Bach but from the jazz of John Coltrane and from African drumming. John Zorn discusses why his compositions allude to Bartok and cartoon music, sometimes within the span of a few seconds. A second narrative revolves around the composers' descriptions of how their personal lives affected--and were affected by--their music. For instance, La Monte Young recalls ``wind blowing between the crisscrossed logs'' of the cabin where he was born as a formative musical experience. The third narrative is that of Strickland's own deep involvement with the works of these composers, revealed by the questions and comments he poses in an appreciative, Paterian way. His profound pleasure in these works also leads him to scrutinize and challenge them intimately. Strickland is a contributing editor of Fanfare magazine, where most of these dialogues first appeared. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1991
Release date: 08/01/1991
Hardcover - 220 pages - 978-0-253-35498-3
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