Dvorák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots

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Oxford University Press, Mar 25, 2004 - Music - 264 pages
Drawing upon a remarkable mix of intensive research and the personal experience of a career devoted to the music about which Dvorák so presciently spoke, Maurice Peress's lively and convincing narrative treats readers to a rare and delightful glimpse behind the scenes of the burgeoning American school of music and beyond. In Dvorák to Duke Ellington, Peress begins by recounting the music's formative years: Dvorák's three year residency as Director of the National Conservatory of Music in New York (1892-1895), and his students, in particular Will Marion Cook and Rubin Goldmark, who would in turn become the teachers of Ellington, Gershwin, and Copland. We follow Dvorák to the famed Chicago World's Fair of 1893, where he directed a concert of his music for Bohemian Honor Day. Peress brings to light the little known African American presence at the Fair: the piano professors, about-to-be-ragtimers; and the gifted young artists Paul Dunbar, Harry T. Burleigh, and Cook, who gathered at the Haitian Pavilion with its director, Frederick Douglass, to organize their own gala concert for Colored Persons Day. Peress, a distinguished conductor, is himself a part of this story; working with Duke Ellington on the Suite from Black, Brown and Beige and his "opera comique," Queenie Pie; conducting the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass; and reconstructing landmark American concerts at which George Antheil's Ballet Mecanique, George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, James Reese Europe's Clef Club (the first all-black concert at Carnegie Hall), and Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige, were first presented. Concluding with an astounding look at Ellington and his music, Dvorák to Duke Ellington offers an engrossing, elegant portrait of the Dvorák legacy, America's music, and the inestimable African-American influence upon it.

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Incredible insight into the life of one of America's living treasures.


2 America and Negro Music
3 Dvoráks Symphony From the New World
4 The Chicago Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893
5 The National Conservatory of Music of America
6 Paul Laurence Dunbar Clorindy and The Talented Tenth
7 James Reese Europe
8 George Gershwin and African American Music
9 Leonard Bernstein
13 George Antheils Ballet Mécanique
14 Bernsteins Mass
15 Duke Ellington
16 Ellingtons Queenie Pie
17 Ellingtons Black Brown and Beige
Selected Discography

10 Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue
11 The Clef Club Concert
12 Will Marion Cook

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Page 4 - But the artist appeals to that part of our being which is not dependent on wisdom; to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition — and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives: to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain...

About the author (2004)

Maurice Peress is a Professor of Music, Aaron Copland School of Music, City University of New York, and the Graduate School of the City of New York.

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