Cover image for The sounds of place : music and the American cultural landscape
The sounds of place : music and the American cultural landscape
Von Glahn, Denise, 1950-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Northeastern University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 361 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Introduction, a place to start -- America as Niagara : nature as icon. Anthony Philip Heinrich, The war of the elements and The thundering of Niagara ; William Henry Fry, Niagara symphony ; George Frederick Bristow, Niagara : symphony for grand orchestra and chorus -- From country to city in the music of Charles Ives. "The Housatonic at Stockbridge, " "From Hanover Square North, at the end of a tragic day, the voice of the people again arose" -- Urban places : iconic New York. Aaron Copland, Quiet city and Music for a great city ; Edgard Varèse, Amériques ; Duke Ellington, Harlem air shaft and Harlem -- Beyond the city : rivers, canyons, and plains. William Grant Still, Kaintuck' and American scenes ; Roy Harris, Cimarron ; Ferde Grofé, Mississippi suite, Grand Canyon suite, Hudson River suite, and Niagara Falls suite -- Return to nature : recent reconsiderations. Robert Starer, Hudson Valley suite ; Dana Paul Perna, Prout's Neck and Three places on Long Island ; Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Symphony no. 4, "The gardens" -- A sounding place : America redefined. Steve Reich, Vermont counterpoint, The desert music, New York counterpoint, and City life -- Conclusions : where we are.
Format :


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ML200.5 .V65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This study explores how the nation's landscapes have inspired American classical music composers over the centuries. Situating her study within the broader context of literary and visual arts traditions, the author examines how celebration of place in music reflects and defines America's identity.

Author Notes

Denise von Glahn is Assistant Professor of Music History and Musicology at Florida State University.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Von Glahn's scholarly study of the importance of places as subjects in American art music--how places shape the individual and collective identities of Americans--should prove seminal. The compositions Von Glahn (Florida State Univ.) selects for study range over nearly two centuries and a gamut of composers, from the 19th-century symphonists--A.P. Heinrich, W.H. Fry, George Bristow--through a diversity of styles as found in the music of Ives, Copland, Varese, Duke Ellington, William Grant Still, Roy Harris, Ferde Grofe, Robert Starer, Dana Paul Perna, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Steve Reich. The author examines both the music itself and the entire cultural milieu for each work. The places emphasize both the vastness of natural scenery--Niagara Falls, the Hudson River, the Grand Canyon, deserts and Western open spaces--and control of nature as found in parks and gardens. As the US evolved from a rural to an urban culture, people increasingly dominated places in compositions such as Copland's Quiet City, Ellington's Harlem, and Reich's New York Counterpoint. For each piece discussed, the reader will think of others that fit the author's criteria for music about places as making an important contribution to awareness of being American. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections; all levels. W. K. Kearns emeritus, University of Colorado at Boulder

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. xiii
Introduction: A Place to Startp. 1
Chapter 1 America as Niagara: Nature as Icon
Anthony Philip Heinrich: The War of the Elements and the Thundering of Niagarap. 17
William Henry Fry: Niagara Symphonyp. 36
George Frederick Bristow: Niagara: Symphony for Grand Orchestra and Chorusp. 50
Chapter 2 From Country to City in the Music of Charles Ives
The Housatonic at Stockbridgep. 64
From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arosep. 90
Chapter 3 Urban Places: Iconic New York
Aaron Copland: Quiet City and Music for a Great Cityp. 110
Edgard Varese: Ameriquesp. 127
Duke Ellington: Harlem Air Shaft and Harlemp. 141
Chapter 4 Beyond the City: Rivers, Canyons, and Plains
William Grant Still: Kaintuck's and American Scenesp. 161
Roy Harris: Cimarronp. 180
Ferde Grofe: Mississippi Suite, Grand Canyon Suite, Hudson River Suite, and Niagara Falls Suitep. 198
Chapter 5 Return to Nature: Recent Reconsiderations
Robert Starer: Hudson Valley Suitep. 216
Dana Paul Perna: Prout's Neck and Three Places on Long Islandp. 225
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Symphony No. 4, The Gardensp. 235
Chapter 6 A Sounding Place: America Redefined
Steve Reich: Vermont Counterpoint, The Desert Music, New York Counterpoint, and City Lifep. 251
Conclusions: Where We Arep. 269
Notesp. 273
Select Bibliographyp. 341
Indexp. 351