Prime Henry Cowell, Bohemian (Music in American Life)Author Michael Hicks – Gsagency.co

In This First Full Length Study Of Henry Cowell, Michael Hicks Shows How The Maverick Composer, Writer, Teacher, And Performer Built His Career On The Intellectual And Aesthetic Foundations Of His Parents, Community, And Teachers And Exemplified The Essence Of Bohemian California Author Of The Highly Influential New Musical Resources And A Teacher Of John Cage, Lou Harrison, And Burt Bacharach, Cowell Is Regarded As An Innovator, A Rebel, And A Genius One Of The First American Composers To Be Celebrated For The Novelty Of His Techniques, Cowell Popularized A Series Of Experimental Piano Playing Techniques That Included Pounding His Fists And Forearms On The Keys And Plucking The Piano Strings Directly To Achieve The Exotic, Dissonant Sounds He Desired Henry Cowell, Bohemian Traces The Venerated Experimentalist S Radical Ideas Back To His Teachers, Including Charles Seeger, Samuel Seward, And E G Stricklen, The Tightknit Artistic Communities In The San Francisco Bay Area Where He Grew Up And First Started Composing, And The Immeasurable Influence Of His Parents Mining The Published And Unpublished Writings Of His Mother, A Politically Motivated Novelist From The Midwest Who Carefully Monitored The Pulse Of Her Son S Creativity From Birth, Hicks Provides Insight Into The Composer S Heritage, Artistic Inclinations, And Childhood Focusing On Cowell S Formative And Most Prolific Years, From His Birth In Through His Incarceration On A Morals Conviction In The S, Hicks Examines The Philosophical Fervor That Fueled His Whirlwind Compositions, And The Ways His Irrepressible Bohemian Spirit Helped Foster An Appreciation In The United States And Europe For A New Brand Of American Music


10 thoughts on “Henry Cowell, Bohemian (Music in American Life)

  1. says:

    Henry Cowell was a fascinating character, and his life and artistic output were unconventional to say the least As he experimented with his piano, the language of music theory had to be adjusted to accommodate his discoveries If you re not familiar with Henry s jams, this book would be an excellent resource to accompany your introduction After all, Michael Hicks main focus here is the man s music remarkable considering there is much to be said of his scandal filled personal life In addition to closely following the evolution of his composition style, Hicks devotes much of the book to Henry s bohemian upbringing, introducing us to the many eccentric characters in his young life and illustrating how their influence, encouragement, and patronage ultimately enabled and shaped his art The book also includes segments of sheet music to some of his pieces, which illustrate, among other things, how he adapted musical notation to denote innovations such as tone clusters The singular career of this unique man, framed here with clarity and detail in the interest of the artist s craft, makes this book, along with Cash and Shakey, one of the most engrossing biographies of a musician composer i ve ever read.


  2. says:

    This brief biography of avant garde modernist composer Henry Cowell concentrates on the first half of his life, up to his unfortunate arrest in 1936 Hicks also concentrates on the influence on Cowell of the bohemian artist community in early 20th century California What results is a great look at Cowell s life and music with lots of information about what shaped him and his art This is especially illuminating since many of the modernists of the day were so heavily invested in the concept of originality that they were often unwilling to acknowledge influences.I find Henry Cowell a very interesting composer, in that he worked outside the atonal serialist trends of his time He s a great example of someone who found other ways of writing modern music and explored other avenues especially tone clusters and a sonically oriented approach to composition Hicks book does a good job of not only explaining Cowell and his music but of showing what else was going on in the compositional world of the early 20th century besides dodecaphony.