Author Topic: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)  (Read 9868 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« on: November 25, 2008, 09:55:21 AM »
I like the music of many serious composers who continue to write in a broadly tonal style and who write music of substance and purpose rather than gesture. Labels like "post-modernist" or "neo-romantic" are sometimes used but I don't really think blanket terms like these help when disparate figures get lumped together.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, who will be 70 next year, is an American composer for whom I have a lot of admiration. She strikes me as someone writing exactly the kind of music I happen to like and her music has a depth that I believe eludes more 'flashy' figures like Corigliano, Danielpour or even the fine, but exasperatingly inconsistent Christopher Rouse. Along with John Harbison(who I have not heard as much of) I rate her very highly as an American composer.

I am lucky enough to have been able to amass a lot of Zwilich's orchestral music-the first four symphonies(No.5 was recently premiered at the Julliard in New York): No.1 on New World Records(Indianapolis SO/John Nelson), No.2 "Cello Symphony" on First Edition Recordings(Louisville Orch./Lawrence Leighton Smith), No.3 on Koch(Louisville Orch./James Sedares) and No.4 "The Gardens" on Koch(Michigan State University SO/Leon Gregorian). These are all strong, serious works which repay study.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/arts/music/29juil.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

There are a lot of concertos-Violin(Naxos, coupled with 'Rituals'), Oboe(coupled with the 2nd Symphony), Horn, Bass Trombone(these last two coupled with the 4th Symphony), Bassoon(coupled with Benjamin Lees' Horn Concerto on a New Worlds disc), Flute(coupled with Piston's Flute Concerto on another Koch disc). I have just ordered the Piano Concerto/Double Concerto/Triple Concerto to further augment my collection ;D

If you are looking for a modern American composer of accessible music but are not convinced(as I am not fully convinced) by Corigliano etc then Zwilich could be your ideal choice. First Woman composer to win a Pulitzer Prize after all(for the 1st Symphony in 1983) :)
« Last Edit: November 25, 2008, 09:58:55 AM by Dundonnell »

Harry

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2008, 11:26:55 AM »
I am a huge fan, really huge, and have all what is on cd from this remarkable woman.
A woman friend of mine in NY send me a few out of print recordings, which I treasure with my life.

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2008, 09:50:42 AM »
Any comment from our American members? :)

mn dave

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2008, 10:07:40 AM »
I just bought the first symphony and must say I was impressed.

hildegard

  • Guest
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2008, 05:58:22 PM »
                                                                               

Although many orchestras have presented and performed Zwilich's music, it is unfortunate that not enough of it is available.

Piano magazine published a very insightful feature about Zwilich's keyboard music in the May-June 2000 issue, which I have held onto. Although known primarily for her mastery of the violin, she is as well a master at the piano and the trumpet, instruments she has played since childhood.

The article explores different elements of her keyboard compositions for solo, chamber, and orchestra, including the Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano, the Triple Concerto, and the fanciful but complex Peanuts Gallery, dedicated to Charles Schultz. The article is a very worthwhile read, although I don't know if it is widely available. 

The article also quotes a NYTimes interview in which Zwilich says "American composers are shadow figures, and the general pubic is almost completely unaware of us." Zwilich has been such an influential, ground breaking composer and musician that one can only hope that her music keeps moving out of the shadows into the limelight.

BTW, the pronunciation of her last names (Taaffe Zwilich) is as in "safe hillock."

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2008, 06:39:31 PM »
Thank you very much for that response!

I am a little surprised however that you should say that it is "unfortunate that not enough of (her music) is available." I actually think that she has been quite fortunate in getting her principal orchestral works recorded.

Here is a list of some recordings:

Symphony No.1; Prologue and Variations; Celebration-Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, John Nelson(New World Records NW 336-2)

Symphony No.2 "Cello Symphony"-Louisville Orchestra, Lawrence Leighton Smith(First Edition Recordings LCD002)-coupled with Hindemith
      Piano Concerto and Lawhead Aleost

Symphony No.3; Oboe Concerto; Concerto Grosso-John Mack(oboe), Louisville Orchestra, James Sedares(Koch International 3-7278-2H1)

Symphony No. 4 "The Gardens"; Concerto for Horn and String Orchestra; Concerto for Bass Trombone, Strings, Timpani and Cymbals-
       David Jolley(horn), Charles Vernon(bass trombone), Michigan State University Children's Choir, Choral Ensembles and Symphony
       Orchestra, Leon Gregorian(Koch International 3-7487-2H1)

Piano Concerto; Double Concerto for Violin and Cello; Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano: Joseph Kalichstein(piano), Jaime Laredo
     (violin), Sharon Robinson(cello), Florida State University Symphony Orchestra, Michael Stern(Koch International 3-7537)

Violin Concerto; Rituals for five Percussionists and Orchestra-Pamela Frank(violin), Nexus/IRIS Chamber Orchestra and Saarbrucken Radio
      Symphony Orchestra, Michael Stern(Naxos 8.559268)

Flute Concerto-Doriot Anthony Dwyer(flute), London Symphony Orchestra, James Sedares(Koch International 3-7142-2H1)-coupled with
      Piston Flute Concerto and Bernstein Halil

Bassoon Concerto-Nancy Goeres(bassoon), Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Lorin Maazel(New World Records 80503-2)-coupled with
     Lees Horn Concerto and Balada Music for Oboe and Orchestra

and these are just the discs I have ;D  There are more at-

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200152726/default.html

including the Tenor Trombone Concerto on BIS. It is actually a pretty impressive discography :)

hildegard

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2008, 07:09:19 PM »
Thank you very much for that response!

I am a little surprised however that you should say that it is "unfortunate that not enough of (her music) is available." I actually think that she has been quite fortunate in getting her principal orchestral works recorded.

Here is a list of some recordings:

Many of her recordings have been discontinued and others can be very hard to find. But thank you for the thorough list. I do appreciate having that.

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2008, 07:17:08 PM »
I guess that I have been lucky then in getting so much of her output ;D That, at least, pleases me :)

Offline donaldopato

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 122
    • Puggingham Palace
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 05:46:19 AM »
What I have heard of her music has impressed me greatly, but I confess to not having a lot of recordings in my collection. I have the concerti but none of the symphonies... at least I don't think I do...

The Kansas City Symphony performed her "Rituals" for Percussion and Orchestra under the direction of our music director Michael Stern who premiered and recorded the piece in Memphis. A very effective and colorful percussion concerto.

Her Double, Triple and Piano concerti are also excellent.

Even though I am sure she is busy composing and teaching, she took the time to write a lullaby for Stern's infant daughter in appreciation of his advocacy of her work. The chords and melody are based on the baby's name and her birthdate. When in KC Stern has a condo in my building and got to hear the piece. Fascinating little work.
Until I get my coffee in the morning I'm a fit companion only for a sore-toothed tiger." ~Joan Crawford

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 08:23:33 AM »
Glad to hear that about the Piano concerto/Double Concerto/Triple Concerto since that disc is midway across the Atlantic en route to me ;D

Quite a few Zwilich discs can be bought reasonably cheaply on Amazon. That includes the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Symphonies(but not the 4th-which is VERY expensive!).

springrite

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 08:26:32 AM »
I had the good fortune to be in Los Angeles and a regular concert goer when Zwilich was the resident composer there. (Others during my stay there include Harbison). For all that I really should have more of her music. I have three CDs which include 2 of the symphonies and two concerti. I am glad she's getting the recognition that she deserves.

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12977
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2009, 02:02:47 PM »
For my latest Juilliard column (here), I reviewed the excellent Claremont Trio, and one of my favorites on the CD--if not the favorite--is Zwilich's Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano.  Although it dates from 1987, I'd never heard it before now.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22274
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2009, 12:51:40 AM »
I was watching a very moving TV programme a couple of days ago, commemorating the 9/11 tragedy, which featured lots of music by American composers - much of it I knew (Barber's Adagio, slow movement of Violin Concerto, extracts from Copland etc) - but some was new to me and I was interested to see the list on the credits at the end. One piece I didn't know was Zwilich Symphony No 3 'Largo'. If it's the piece I think it was in the programme - it is very moving. I know nothing by Corigliano and his Clarinet Concerto was also featured as was Bernard Herrmann's 'Sinfonietta for Strings'.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 12:56:16 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Harry

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2009, 12:56:04 AM »
I was watching a very moving TV programme a couple of days ago, commemorating the 9/11 tragedy, which featured lots of music by American composers - much of it I knew (Barber's Adagio, slow movement of Violin Concerto, extracts from Copland etc) - but some was new to me and I was interested to see the list on the credits at the end. One piece I didn't know was Zwilich Symphony No 3 'Largo'. If it's the piece I think it was in the programme - it is very moving. I know nothing by Corigliano and his Clarinet Concerto was also featured.

Zwilich is a class of her own, you should check out what is there. She is on top of my list, composerwise.

Offline vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22274
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2009, 12:57:14 AM »
Zwilich is a class of her own, you should check out what is there. She is on top of my list, composerwise.

Thanks very much Harry. I will do.

Any particular recommendations?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Dundonnell

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3596
  • Edmund Rubbra(1901-86)
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2009, 07:04:16 AM »
Thanks very much Harry. I will do.

Any particular recommendations?

If that was the programme on 'The History Channel' the other night, Jeffrey, then I too watched it. I certainly recognised the Barber extracts but turned off before the credits so didn't see the other pieces credited.

If you want to start with some Zwilich then try the Violin Concerto on Naxos. That at least is cheap and easily obtained. The other cds listed in my post above are more difficult-but not impossible-to obtain.

Harry

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2009, 09:09:38 AM »
Thanks very much Harry. I will do.

Any particular recommendations?

Here you go!

Concert for Violin and Orchestra (1998)
Rituals for 5 percussionists and orchestra (2002)
Pamela Frank (violin). Nexus/Iris Chamber Orch (rituals)/Saarbrücken Radio Symph Orch , Michael Stern. Naxos 8559268.

Chamber Symphony (1979)
Concert voor violin, cello en Orchestra (1991)
Symphony nr. 2 “Cello”
Jaime Laredo (violin), Sharon Robinson (cello). The Louisville Orch, Lawrence Leighton Smith and Albert-George Schram. First Editon FECD 0004.

Celebration
Prologue and Variations
Symphony nr. 1
Indianapolis Symph Orch, John Nelson. New World Rec 80336-2.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 09:13:50 AM by Harry »

hildegard

  • Guest
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2009, 02:03:42 PM »

For fans in the NY area, Zwilich's Septet for Piano Trio and String Quartet will have its world premiere at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, April 28th, with a repeat performance on April 29th.

The Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trio will be joined by the Miami String Quartet for this special performance. Other pieces rounding out the evening are Schumann's Quintet for Piano and Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 44, and Boccherini's SQ in E Major.

I am very much looking forward to this event and to seeing Zwilich again after some years.   :)

 
 

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2009, 02:08:55 PM »
For fans in the NY area, Zwilich's Septet for Piano Trio and String Quartet will have its world premiere at the 92nd Street Y on Tuesday, April 28th, with a repeat performance on April 29th.


What a great idea for a septet! Do tell us how it is!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich(1939-)
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2009, 04:28:18 PM »
I've been thinking about this septet combination a lot and have been wondering why no one has done this before... Though you could produce the lushest imaginable sonorities with that group (string quartet and piano trio), for some reason it immediately suggests to me a harsher soundworld, serious, granitic, slow moving, contrapuntal. I don't know why! I wonder what she makes of it... (and it's a shame that it's not being broadcast.)

Here's an interesting article on the piece and the composer:
http://www.observer.com/2009/%E2%80%98twas-zwilich-composer-70
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away