cover image Louis Horst-CL

Louis Horst-CL

Janet Mansfield Soares, Author, Janet Mansfieldsoares, Author, Soares, Author Duke University Press $44.95 (302p) ISBN 978-0-8223-1226-0

The first full biography of musician and composer Horst (1884-1964) comes at an opportune time, with interest in his colleague and lover Martha Graham galvanized by her death in 1991 and the publication of two books soon after: Graham's memoir, Blood Memory , which mentions Horst only briefly, and Agnes de Mille's biography, Martha , which dwells at length on his character. Horst is widely recognized as a seminal figure who helped to elevate modern dance to a full-fledged American art; he composed for and accompanied Doris Humphrey, Helen Tamiris, Pearl Lang et al. As Graham's close collaborator he created scores for her masterworks and systematized a composition theory for modern dance, leading critic John Martin to dub him ``the perennial pianistic patron saint of the dance.'' Soares, Horst's student and personal assistant, now head of the dance department at Barnard College in Manhattan, has assembled a chronology of his life from firsthand accounts, all scrupulously referenced. Her musings on Horst's sexuality and his liaison with Graham remain inconclusive; the source of his attraction to other female companions is also elusive. For passion and partisanship, de Mille is the more persuasive writer, but Soares provides what is probably the definitive chronicle of Horst's years in dance. Photos not seen by PW. (June)