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This 35 message thread spans 3 pages:  < <   1  [2]  3  > >  
  Re: American Composers  mattgreenecomposer at 16:35 on 18 March 2007

and then there is - Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, George Gershwin, Billy Strayhorn...

Sorry Scott, I thought your reply was Pete12b's
I'm glad it was you who mentioned the Jazz guys. I stand corrected.

BTW Howard Shore is "American" enought for me. He did the music for Sat. night live four five years, and has a house in LA....I don't care where he was born, you can't get any more American than that. but whatever, who wants to argue.....even if he came out of the womb in Canada somehwere you say.

I thought we were only talking about living composers. I would add most of yours if we were not. I would stick to notated music, though, that's why I wouldn't include pop/rock musicians.

  oh, canada?  scott_good at 21:44 on 18 March 2007

"BTW Howard Shore is "American" enought for me. He did the music for Sat. night live four five years, and has a house in LA....I don't care where he was born, you can't get any more American than that. but whatever, who wants to argue.....even if he came out of the womb in Canada somehwere you say."

sat. night live is an american institution, for sure.

...or is it...

actually, the shows creator, Lorne Michaels, is canadian. it was created in canada (with canadian and american actors), and sold to NBC.

yes, many of us canuks end up living in LA - some joke that it is canada south, especially in comedy - mike myers, jim carey, leslie nelson, john candy, catherine ohara, dan akroyd, eugene levey, martin short, tom green...

Perhaps one might notice something quirky and unique among these comedians and shows like SNL (south park has lots of canuks as well). Don't you think that there could be something about their up-brininging in a different culture that speeks to their difference from american born comedians (or musicians or actors or writers or...).

  Re: American Composers  Christopher Tin at 08:39 on 14 April 2007

I'd add Lou Harrison and Elliot Goldenthal to the list (the latter of whom also does film music).

And while we're on the topic of film music, have we all forgotten the grand-daddy of film scores, John Williams?

  Re: American Composers  James McFadyen at 21:06 on 14 April 2007

John Williams!

Not the best as far as I'm concerned, in fact he's quite down far my list!

  Re: American Composers  audiostratus at 08:59 on 18 April 2007

At the bottom??? Granted, he's a bit of a soundtrack merchandising icon, but he does have a good bit of skill to get where he got. Am curious as to the reason you're not too fond of him.

  Re: American Composers  James McFadyen at 10:25 on 18 April 2007

John Williams is a decent enough Film Composer. He is certainly not original. But like you said he has become a bit of a soundtrack merchandising icon.

Musically, I find Williams a bit Crash-Band-Whollop, you know, just like Klaus Badelt, although perhaps not quite as bad as Klaus.

The film music I have come to admire is James Newton Howard's score to the Mel Gibson film, "Signs".

It's underplayed but the intensity is so rich that even the 'great' John Willams may have trouble beating.

Instead of opting for loud brass fanfares that we heard in every other movie (re: John Williams), he opts for a more minimalist approach, especially in his rythmic woodwinds and sonorous brass and the harmony is well thoughtout, it's not obscure, but yet not dated and basic.

A certain Christopher Young does the same thing in "The Core", the scene where the actor, Delroy Lindo trades his life in to save the others. The music here is one of a very powerful elegy, the harmonic clashes and scoring envoke a spirit of humanity and in no way do we ever feel cheated that the composer has got the hollywood bug. Chris Young - a very underestimated film composer in my book!

  Re: American Composers  audiostratus at 10:39 on 18 April 2007

Ah true enough. John Williams does have a cliche sound to his music. A bit of the "stereotypical" American composer I guess. Howard Shore does do a great job with his music (I find myself listening to the LOTR soundtrack more than Star Wars or any of JW's stuff). I did like JW's music for Saving Private Ryan though. But again, American composer for American music in an American hero film.

  Re: American Composers  James McFadyen at 11:42 on 18 April 2007

lol. indeed!

  Re: American Composers  wsuryn at 16:07 on 04 July 2007

I concur with you in your Canadian view. I don think Canadians like to be treated as "American-enough". Canadian culture (music on a prominent place) is considerably different and in many cases richer and more subtle. The fact that funds for "big productions" are located south is a bit unfortunate but still if you look closer you will be able to tell the difference between the productions.
Now about film composers. Again I concur with a person not liking much John Williams. He is so repetitive and predictive in his composing schemas that after some time he is simply boring. There were many names mentioned on this forum but what would anyone think about Hans Zimmer, l'enfant terrible of the film scoring?

  Re: American Composers  piargno at 02:03 on 06 July 2007

Maybe these guys aren't so so important to others, but I've been a big fan of Lee Hyla and Robert Dick. I'd also like to mention Robert Cogan, who wrote "Sound Design" with Pozzi Escot, and JAMES TENNEY (who unfortunately passed away recently)!!!

Reading this post was great, except for the base, unintelligent comment made about 4'33". Do people know about 0'0"??

  Re: American Composers  ccaranna at 19:52 on 20 August 2007

Here are a few more:

Roger Sessions
Vincent Persichetti
William Schuman
Walter Piston
Gunther Schuller
Donald Erb
Charles Wuorinen
Roy Harris
Leonard Bernstein
Carl Ruggles
Ellen Taafe Zwilich

There's many, many, more, I'm sure

  Re: American Composers at 10:29 on 06 September 2007

Someone finally mentioned Roy Harris...thank you! To me he's number one in defining Americana and American Composition. The Harris 3rd symphony is essential...influenced Copland. I think Charles Ives is very important too, although obviously experimental. George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Irving Berlin...Sousa, Joplin, Stephen Foster, Cole Porter, Ellington, Monk ... very important as well in defining American sound and originality.

John Hedger

  Re: American Composers  fpn1956 at 17:46 on 08 September 2007

I would also include John Corigliano,Christopher Rouse,John Harbison,Steven Stucky,Joseph Schwantner.

  Re: American Composers  Misuc at 14:26 on 10 September 2007

I don't understand the question i.e. what info is wanted, and certainly not why. What is meant by 'prominent'? Or, for that matter, by 'important'? These are not issues for composers, though such a catalogue might be useful to a Music-Biz operative, trying to find out how to get subsidies, sponsorship, bums on seats or at least cash out of punters' pockets.

The only honest answers a musician could give would be to the 'wrong' question - and these would be 'subjective' of course. So here goes:

I don't know a lot of native-born American composers' work though settlers to the US include some of the greatest composers of the last century.

First of all let us discard some of the composers of dead music mentioned(even though the perpetrators may be still alive): Cage was not a composer, though he started off with some charming and attractive-but-naive ideas. He ended up an overt charlatan. Almost worse is Reich. You can't actually listen to his music: there is nothing there: it's like being forced to listen to paint drying, very noisily - or like banging your head against a wall. Adams is one tiny step closer to a fully developed human being, but he got stuck somewhere along the way,at about age nine, when he found out how to 'do' (or out-do) one of Stravinsky's devices (just that part of Stravinsky's box of tricks which the master accused himself of over-doing: the ostinato thing). He found out that people (the 'right' people) were impressed enough to give him some access to their superprofits and never had to progress.

On the other hand, regarding composers of living music(even some who physically died) - but even discounting composers of unwritten music (but why? What is so special about written music in the age of 'Sibelius' and 'Finale'?)- if you then count real composers of the most exciting and demanding written music of all sorts including jazz and similar music,then surely 20th century USA must represent one of the great periods in music history:from Jelly Roll Morton to Dizzy Gillespie, George Russel,Frank Zappa,Ornette Coleman,James Ulmer etc. and of course, Bob Graettinger, about as near a genius figure as you can get, who in the '50s, 'invented' a hugely expressive, passionate refiguring of 'classical', 'avant-garde' and jazz harmonies, opening up a way of understanding, notating and integrating sounds and sound-ideas that had not even been thought of at that time. He wrote for Stan Kenton's big band and died tragically at 24.The key figure in creating the new music in the USA, jazz and 'straight' was the unique Stefan Wolpe, amazing political and musical revolutionary, former dadaist, former Bauhaus composer, Webern pupil, founder of Israeli New Music etc.

What is 'prominent' compared to this? And don't forget the interesting if not quite successful 'experiments' of Harry Partch, Conlon Nancarrow and Ives too, very fertile ground for future real composers to cultivate....

And Carter has to be one of the most exciting and thrilling innovative composers of the whole period stretching from 'classical' to modern, the heir to much of the above,who found a way to extend Schumann's and Liszt's innovations to play off tempos against one another and integrate diverse and contradictory ideas, movements and whole pieces.......

That's just a few observations......

  Re: American Composers  dunkinwedd at 10:52 on 22 September 2007

Can I put in a word for Ferde Grofe? Rhapsody in Blue would not have been the same without him.

And all the best composers play the viola...

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