Articles

Selected Articles

Milton Babbitt Essays

If one reads this book from beginning to end, one gets in chronological order the writings of one of the most influential musicians and writers on music and music theory of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  However, if one reads the last four essays first, the book becomes a sort of autobiography, with each article placed in the context of the musical life and career of a sixteen-year-old boy genius from Jackson, Mississippi, who, enamored of all sorts of music and  having outgrown the possibility of further discoveries about it provided by the Jackson Boys’ Band, and…

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Liner Notes for The Complete Songs of Virgil Thomson

“To anybody brought up there, as I was, ‘Kansas City’ always meant the Missouri one,” is the way Virgil Thomson began his Autobiography. Kansas City was at the center of his identity, and he said that the purpose of his music was to tell Paris, the other central location of his life, about Kansas City. Thomson was born in 1896 in Kansas City and grew up there, only leaving to go into the army in the First World War. He wrote that he was driven “by a desire to get into the fghting.” Despite considerable effort on his part to get to the war, he never left the United States during his…

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Music Downtown: Writings from the Villiage Voice by Kyle Gann.  The University of California Press.  Hardcover $50.00, ú32.50, Paper $19.95.

The big project for the generation of American composers who came of age at about the time of the First World War, primarily the five composers described by Virgil Thomson as a  commando unit , Copland, Thomson, Sessions, Harris, and Piston, was the establishment of a fully grown-up indigenous American music.  There had been American music of interest and quality, of course, before then, going back as far as William…

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