Author Topic: William Schuman (1910-1992)  (Read 55639 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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William Schuman (1910-1992)
« on: June 26, 2007, 10:43:55 PM »
Any other admireres of this fine American composer?

I just discovered Symphony 6 in a historic performance conducted by Ormandy. What a great work; decribed by one critic as "A Requiem for the twentieth century" it ends beautifully and it has been a great new discovery for me. Symphony 3 (especially in Bernstein's Sony recording) is Schuman's best known symphony (there is a good new recording on Naxos) and the Violin Concerto and more populist "New England Tryptich" are both excellent works.

Is Schuman highly regarded in the US?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 10:01:24 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Choo Choo

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2007, 01:51:49 AM »
I discovered Schuman through his Carols Of Death (a setting of Whitman poems for a cappella choir, and by no means the downer that the name suggests) which were the filler item on an LP of some Ives pieces.

I can heartily recommend this set of Symphonies 3, 5 & 8 :


Offline david johnson

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2007, 02:05:58 AM »
once you delve into "New England Tryptich", you must then hear the originals by earlier colonial composer, william billings!

dj

johnQpublic

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2007, 02:58:49 AM »
Is Schuman highly regarded in the US?

From my perspective, no he's not. Today's orchestra when playing "modern" works they tend to go for more recently written works. Composers of Schuman's generation get overlooked too often.

I really love his Symphomy #8 (Bernstein). The finale is unreal.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2007, 04:03:16 AM »
Thanks for replies. I will listen to Symphony 8 asap. "Carols of Death" sound v interesting too and the Billings work on which the New England Tryptich is based.

British composers of the 1930s and 40s are neglected in the UK as far as concert performances are concerned (ie Bax, Bliss, Moeran, Alwyn etc). You rarely see anything in concert.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 10:02:23 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline david johnson

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2007, 10:37:08 AM »
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/Namedrill?&name_id=1107&name_role=1

here is arkivmusic's billings list.  you'll want 'when Jesus wept', 'chester', and 'be glad then america'.
the best, imo, is the older columbia recording by the gregg smith singers...hard to find now.

dj

Joe Barron

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2007, 12:17:51 PM »
Mr. Schuman was born in 1910, I believe.

The Bernstein perfromancea are indeed remarkable. I listened to the third again recently. It's the work of a young man, rather too busy and bursting with ideas, but engaging and full of spark. I've always liked it. The Fifth is also a favorite, and the Seventh shouldn't be overlooked, either.

BTW, I did meet Mr. Schuman back in the 1980s, at a concert of his works in Washington DC. A very charming man. He said something I'll wlways remember. I asked him if he thought any popular music was as good as the so-called serious concert music. He said no. He didn't believe it had the staying power. The real purpose of popular music, he said, is that it should be played at the height of your mating season.



« Last Edit: June 28, 2007, 05:56:37 AM by Joe Barron »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Schuman (1919-1992)
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2007, 10:05:35 PM »
Mr. Schuman was born in 1910, I believe.

The Bernstein perfromancea are indeed remarkable. I listened to the third again recently. It's the work of a young man, rather too busy and bursting with ideas, but engaging and full of spark. I've always liked it. The Fifth is also a favorite, and the Seventh shouldn't be overlooked, either.

BTW, I did meet Mr. Schuman back in the 1980s, at a concert of his works in Washington DC. A very charming man. He said something I'll wlways remember. I asked him if he thought any popular music was as good as the so-called serious concert music. He said no. He didn't believe it had the staying power. The real purpose of popular music, he said, is that it should be played at the hhieght of your mating season.





Thank you Joe for the date correction, I've changed it on the header; my apologies. It doesn't surprise me to hear that Mr Schuman was a charming man and I loved his comments on popular music. The only composer I briefly spoke to was Sir Lennox Berkeley who was also very  pleasant. I received extremely nice letters from Vagn Holmboe, David Diamond, George Lloyd, Ursula Vaughan Williams (with book of her husband's essays) and John Kinsella in response to unsolicited fan mail from me.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2007, 10:08:14 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Choo Choo

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2007, 01:35:25 AM »
The only composer I briefly spoke to was Sir Lennox Berkeley who was also very  pleasant.

I knew his son Michael, in the days when I worked for the company run by Michael's wife Deborah.  He was - and, I am sure, still is - a thoroughly delightful fellow, and very entertaining company - though possessed of a hair-raising driving style:  I still recall hurtling around Berkeley Square wedged into the front seat of a microscopically small minivan with the composer at the wheel, who was waving an arm out of the window and declaring "Of course, at one time all this belonged to us" while swerving violently to avoid a cyclist.

the best, imo, is the older columbia recording by the gregg smith singers...hard to find now.

You have reminded me that the recording of Carols Of Death which I mentioned earlier was also by the Gregg Smith Singers - and which, I am delighted to say, I have now found in a 3-CD VoxBox along with other pieces by Schuman, Rorem and Talma.  Excellent.  Thanks for that.


Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2007, 10:47:26 PM »
Just listened to Symphony 6 again; what a great work. Don't know how I missed it all these years.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

pjme

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2007, 07:43:23 PM »
I have several Schuman recordings (symphonies 3,6,7,8,9,10, pianoconcertino, violinconc.,Judith...) and find most of these works gripping. The later symphonies can be quite tough though. I cherish an old LP with a totaly enjoyable concerto for viola, women's chorus & orch. (On old English rounds). Never understood why it wasn't released as a CD....I wrote to the Schuman Society - but got only a polite answer ....

Peter

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2007, 01:30:29 AM »
Thoroughly agree with the expressions of admiration for Schuman's symphonies! On re-checking my CD collection I find that I have 18 CDs of music by Schuman-No.3 in the versions by Bernstein(1961 and 1985) and the more recent Naxos version by Gerard Schwarz, No.4(the old Louisville version-Jorge Mester- and the more modern Albany-David Alan Miller-and Naxos versions), No.5(Bernstein and Schwarz), No.6(Hugh Keelen on Koch and the old Ormandy), No.7(Maazel and Schwarz), No.8(Bernstein), No.9(Schwarz), No.10(Slatkin and Schwarz), together with the Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, New England Triptych(5 different versions!), the Canticle "In Praise of Shahn"(Otto-Werner Mueller and Bernstein), "Judith"(Schwarz), Credendum(Ormandy and Miller), Prayer in Time of War(Mester), American Festival Overture, Circus Overture, Orchestra Song plus the odd Evocation for Oboe, Brass, Timpani and Strings "To Thee Old Cause"(Bernstein). Don't think that I am doing badly with this composer!

What are missing are the unrecorded Concerto on Old English Rounds(as noted), the Song of Orpheus for cello and orchestra, more of Schuman's ballet scores and his choral works.

I find Schuman a composer of enormous vigour. He certainly produced music of real energy and power but his music does require virtuoso performance from a top flight orchestra and the committment of a conductor like Bernstein if it is to communicate effectively-although, to be fair, Schwarz make an excellent fist of it in his recent recordings. There can(sometimes) seem to be a slight sense that Schuman's trademark style is being recycled in the later symphonies and there is no doubt that they do require concentration on the part of the listener! I do, however, find him a most rewarding and serious symphonist-much tougher(obviously) than Copland, Barber, Hanson or Harris-to name but four other of his (rough) contemporaries-but certainly easier than Roger Sessions, who is just too tough a nut for me to crack!

Can I recommend amongst other American symphonists the works of both Walter Piston(although his symphonies can be a trifle 'formal') and-a particular favourite of mine-Peter Mennin, who died in 1983 at the age of 60 but who produced a number of colourful and exciting works.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2007, 01:54:30 AM »
Piston's Second and Fourth symphonies+New England Episodes are great works. I was struck by the similarity the opening of the last of the New England Episodes with the opening of Vaughan Williams's contemporaneous Ninth Symphony.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Brewski

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2009, 01:01:23 PM »
In today's New Music Box, Frank J. Oteri interviews Joseph W. Polisi, whose book on William Schuman just came out called American Muse.  Sounds like a great read, and further, apparently Juilliard will be doing an all-Schuman concert next year that will include the Violin Concerto.  The article is here

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Offline Guido

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2009, 01:09:10 PM »

What are missing are the unrecorded Concerto on Old English Rounds(as noted), the Song of Orpheus for cello and orchestra, more of Schuman's ballet scores and his choral works.


Song of Orpheus is available on Naxos in a decent recording, though it can't hope to match the peerless Leonard Rose in the first recording. I can send people an MP3 of this criminally unavailable recording of Rose if anyone wants it.
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Offline drogulus

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2009, 01:30:40 PM »

    I had the LP of Bernstein's recording of the Schuman 8th back in the '60s. I remembered it as having outstanding sonics (unusual for Columbia), and when I finally acquired the CD a few years ago I learned I wasn't wrong. This is the most dissonant of the Schuman symphonies but I think it's also very beautiful and moving.

     The 7th symphony is in a similar vein and I know it from this recording, which I can also recommend:

     
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 01:33:50 PM by drogulus »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2009, 02:06:00 PM »
His violin concerto is IMO by quite some margin the best US violin concerto. Oh how I long for Zukovskys verson with MTT/Boston on DG to be generally available again. I have the original LP coupled with Pistons 2nd symphony, what a wonderful and pathbreaking disc that was!

Offline J

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2009, 03:55:30 PM »
His violin concerto is IMO by quite some margin the best US violin concerto. Oh how I long for Zukovskys verson with MTT/Boston on DG to be generally available again. I have the original LP coupled with Pistons 2nd symphony, what a wonderful and pathbreaking disc that was!

Myself - I consider Schuman's & Rochberg's (the original version) to be the two greatest.

How does Rochberg's concerto rate with you?

Offline Guido

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2009, 03:57:52 PM »
Better than the Barber?! I must hear it!

Just ordered the Naxos CD.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 04:03:38 PM by Guido »
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Offline Daverz

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Re: William Schuman (1910-1992)
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2009, 04:34:17 PM »


Looks like a new or reissued recording of the Schuman VC.  I found the Naxos disappointing compared to the Zukovsky.

http://www.amazon.com/Leonard-Bernstein-Serenade-William-Concerto/dp/B0016MJ3NG