Search - William Henry Fry, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Edward MacDowell :: The Story of American Classical Music

The Story of American Classical Music
William Henry Fry, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Edward MacDowell
The Story of American Classical Music
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (15) - Disc #2


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CD Reviews

A Great Intro to American Classical Music - Almost a Short C
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 07/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Many reasonably sophisticated American and European musiclovers still think there are really no American classical music composers of note other than perhaps Gershwin and Copland. It is to the credit of the Naxos label, via their 'American Classics' series, that the lie is put to that notion. Each month there are new issues from Naxos containing music by American composers. And it was a brilliant idea for them to take selections from their dozens of releases of this music to put together this sampler of such music to illustrate a 100+ page essay on the subject by an eminent writer on music, Barrymore Laurence Scherer. The combination of 2 CDs of music tracks, Scherer's essay, a chronological outline, suggestions for further listening, even a map showing where various composers were born helps the 'student' learn much about our nation's musical heritage.

There are selections by twenty-eight composers stretching from the amazing Wagnerian 'Macbeth' Overture by William Henry Fry (1813-1864) to the very recent 'Rapture,' a percussion concerto by Michael Torke (b. 1961). Some selections are complete movements, others are shorter passages from larger works. Included are such gems as the first movement of Arthur Foote's Piano Quartet, the third movement of Henry Hadley's Fourth Symphony, Charles Ives's 'The Unanswered Question,' 'King Cotton' by John Philip Sousa, 'Maple Leaf Rag' by Scott Joplin, a passage (the exciting Spanish Waltz) from Walter Piston's 'The Incredible Flutist,' the finale of Copland's 'Billy the Kid,' the opening of Samuel Barber's luminous 'Knoxville - Summer of 1915,' 'Tonight' from Bernstein's 'West Side Story,' the opening of George Rochberg's masterful Violin Concerto, and John Adams's incredibly popular 'Short Ride in a Fast Machine.' Plus selections by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Edward MacDowell, George Whitefield Chadwick, Amy Beach, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Charles Wakefield Cadman, George Gershwin, George Antheil, Zez Confrey, William Schuman, John Cage, Gunther Schuller, Alan Hovhaness, Elliott Carter and Philip Glass. The performances are more than acceptable and in some instances ('Knoxville,' Rochberg's Violin Concerto) definitive.

I would heartily recommend this set (especially at its superbudget price) to anyone wanting to know more about the history of American classical music -- Scherer is a master of cogent, clear prose -- and wishing to hear examples of the broad range it has taken over the past couple of centuries. I can easily imagine this set being used in a music appreciation course. And I am sure it will spark interest in the newcomer to this branch of classical music.

2 CDs TT=ca. 160 mins.

Scott Morrison"