Henry Cowell, Bohemian

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University of Illinois Press, 2002 - Biography & Autobiography - 204 pages
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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. 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 1897 through his incarceration on a morals conviction in the 1930s, 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.
 

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Contents

Introduction i
7
The Pulse of Chords Tremendous and Remote
31
Trusting His Muse to a Guiding Intellect
59
The Work of Exploration Has Just Begun
91
The Bohemian Legacy
116
Appendixes
151
Henry Cowells Statement in His Defense
158
Titles
164
Notes
171
Index
199
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Michael Hicks is Professor of Medieval History at King Alfred's College, Winchester. He holds three history degrees at English universities and has written extensively on the Wars of the Roses, mainly through biographies of important protagonists such as Warwick the Kingmaker, False Fleeting Perjur'd Clarence and Richard III who shaped successive stages of the conflict. He is a regular contributor to history journals and to 'The Ricardian'.

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