Author Topic: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)  (Read 4181 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« on: April 29, 2013, 11:11:26 AM »


Morton Gould was an important American composer, generally overshadowed by Copland, Barber, and Bernstein. Like Bernstein, he wrote in both popular and classical styles and often mixed the two. Many record collectors around the middle of the twentieth century knew him primarily as a conductor of popular music, as well as of newer works in the realm of serious music. His "classical" style in composition generally offered few challenges to listeners and often featured well-known themes of a patriotic or folk origin, or were based on melodies from American composers out of the past. Foster Gallery (1939) and American Ballads (1976) fall into this realm.

Gould was born in Richmond Hill, Long Island, New York. He was a musical prodigy of a rare order, playing the piano and composing by age four. His parents were strongly supportive of their young son and helped to get his first work, a waltz entitled Just Six, both performed and published when he was still only six years old.

By age eight, he was performing regularly on radio broadcasts. Later, he studied at the Institute of Musical Arts in New York and in New York University, where he was instructed in composition by Vincent Jones. He also studied piano with Abby Whiteside. In his late teens, Gould played piano in vaudeville and radio in various freelancing assignments, but also held positions with Radio City Music Hall and NBC. At age 21, (1934) he landed a conducting post with WOR Radio, regularly leading an orchestra in popular music fare. He recorded for RCA beginning in the 1930s and made piano rolls for Ampico.

One of Gould's first successes in composition was his Chorale and Fugue in Jazz (1935), which received a prestigious premiere on January 2, 1936, with Leopold Stokowski leading the Philadelphia Orchestra. Gould was beginning to turn out many significant compositions now: his Piano Concerto came in 1937 and his Violin Concerto in 1938. The following year, he wrote the aforementioned work based on popular Stephen Foster themes, Foster Gallery, which was subsequently recorded by Arthur Fiedler and The Boston Pops Orchestra.

Gould became music director of the popular radio programs "The Chrysler Hour" and "Cresta Blanca Carnival" in the 1940s. He composed three symphonies (of four) in that decade, as well as a spate of other works, including his Viola Concerto (1943) and Fall River Legend (1947).
Gould also wrote for Broadway, turning out Billion Dollar Baby in 1945 and Arms and the Girl in 1950. In 1944, he appeared in the film Delightfully Dangerous, for which he wrote the score. His career scoring films continued with other efforts including Cinerama Holiday (1955) and Windjammer (1958). He also composed numerous scores for television shows in the 1960s and 1970s. His last important effort here was for the mini-series Holocaust (1978), which starred Meryl Streep. In 1966, Gould received a Grammy award for his recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of Ives' First Symphony.

Gould continued to write concert music, as well, though one might assert that the film world may ultimately have sabotaged his chances somewhat to attain a higher level of art. Still, his Symphony of Spirituals and American Ballads, both premiered in 1976, demonstrated his undiminished talent. From 1986 until 1994 he served as president of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). In 1995, Gould received a Pulitzer Prize for his composition Stringmusic.

[Taken from All Music Guide]


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Anyone familiar with Gould's music? For me, he's one of the more underrated American composers who lived in the shadow of many more well-known American composers, but I think this music is just as distinctive as any of them. I like the way, like Bernstein and Gershwin before him, used jazz in a classical context, but it's not just all lively rhythms and bluesy melodies, Gould was also serious composer as well who was unafraid to blur the boundaries between highbrow and lowbrow music.

I'm working on expanding my Gould collection which I bought several recordings today from the Albany label. Anyone else a fan?
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 01:32:40 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2013, 11:43:57 AM »
The 'West Point Symphony' is a hoot - I love it - especially in the Mercury recording. Other than that I have been routinely disappointed with his music. I had high hopes for the 'Jekyll and Hyde Variations' but they too turned out to be a damp squid.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Sef

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2013, 12:24:03 PM »
The 'West Point Symphony' is a hoot - I love it - especially in the Mercury recording. Other than that I have been routinely disappointed with his music. I had high hopes for the 'Jekyll and Hyde Variations' but they too turned out to be a damp squid.
As it happens all squids are fairly damp (well the live ones are), so I think it's a damp squib you're after  ;)
"Do you think that I could have composed what I have composed, do you think that one can write a single note with life in it if one sits there and pities oneself?"

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2013, 12:51:15 PM »
The 'West Point Symphony' is a hoot - I love it - especially in the Mercury recording. Other than that I have been routinely disappointed with his music. I had high hopes for the 'Jekyll and Hyde Variations' but they too turned out to be a damp squid.

I can say I've enjoyed everything I've heard from Gould so far. I really connect to his freewheeling spirit. His musical personality seemed to not give a damn if you're in the 'mood' to hear his music or not. He always did his own thing, which I admire. I listened to Jekyll and Hyde Variations earlier today and really enjoyed the work actually. Followed this up with the ballet Fall River Legend, which is a great work. I suppose you just don't have the 'ears' for Gould, Jeffrey.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2013, 01:03:33 PM »
I really like this first movement of Concerto for Orchestra -

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/1UPBEK3Qjk0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/1UPBEK3Qjk0</a>
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cilgwyn

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2013, 03:28:25 PM »
As it happens all squids are fairly damp (well the live ones are), so I think it's a damp squib you're after  ;)
Indeed,a squid would be damp,living where it is. Although..........!!! ;D
Squids aside,it's great to see someone enjoys Morton Gould enough to start a thread about him. I'll tell you why,but it's a bit late now!! Incidentally,I'm listening to the Mercury Living Presence cd of Morton Gould conducting Copland's 'Billy the Kid' & 'Rodeo' (also Grofe's famous suite,which I quite like!) After being a little taken back by the speed of the opening sequence,I must say I am very impressed. But then again,I've heard good things about this recording,and with his 'pedigree',this has got to be Gould's kind of 'thing'! The sound quality is superb,by the way. It put's some recent,supposedly state of the art recordings,to shame. It could have been recorded yesterday. (Grofe's suite sounds very impressionistic in this recording..........I've just got to it!!! Oooh,the clarity & detail! Wow!!!!!)

PS: Gould's own music,when it get's light around here. But not too early in the morning,I fear!!!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2013, 03:45:02 PM »
I couldn't listen to Gould's music everyday. Most days I prefer something darker, more troubled, but I really do look forward to exploring more of Gould's music.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2013, 03:49:54 PM »
Indeed,a squid would be damp,living where it is. Although..........!!! ;D
Squids aside,it's great to see someone enjoys Morton Gould enough to start a thread about him. I'll tell you why,but it's a bit late now!! Incidentally,I'm listening to the Mercury Living Presence cd of Morton Gould conducting Copland's 'Billy the Kid' & 'Rodeo' (also Grofe's famous suite,which I quite like!) After being a little taken back by the speed of the opening sequence,I must say I am very impressed. But then again,I've heard good things about this recording,and with his 'pedigree',this has got to be Gould's kind of 'thing'! The sound quality is superb,by the way. It put's some recent,supposedly state of the art recordings,to shame. It could have been recorded yesterday. (Grofe's suite sounds very impressionistic in this recording..........I've just got to it!!! Oooh,the clarity & detail! Wow!!!!!)

PS: Gould's own music,when it get's light around here. But not too early in the morning,I fear!!!

I thought Gould's Billy the Kid performance was on RCA Living Stereo? That's the only one I know of and Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite is what it's coupled with. Anyway, this is my favorite performance of this much heard Copland ballet. You should definite give some of Gould's music a try at some point.
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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2013, 04:10:00 PM »
The "Apple Waltzes" and "Latin-American Symphonette" are not 'consquential' I suppose, but good light music.   And Gould's recordings of Shostakovich Symphonies 2&3, Nielsen Symphony no. 2 and Ives no.1, and Grieg's Symphonic and Norwegian Dances are surprisingly good.  I think I've got the Ives high on a stack for playing soon. (But even he cannot make Ives 'Robert Browning Overture' into something  you'd want to encore.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 04:12:55 PM by listener »
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cilgwyn

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2013, 04:51:38 PM »
I thought Gould's Billy the Kid performance was on RCA Living Stereo? That's the only one I know of and Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite is what it's coupled with. Anyway, this is my favorite performance of this much heard Copland ballet. You should definite give some of Gould's music a try at some point.
Of course! RCA!!!! It just 'hit' me when,now! I had to get up to. It was late,though.......and very early,now!!! So,I hit on just the 'right' one,did I? Yes,it's marvellous. There are such a range of interpretations,here;all so different! This one's just right! One,I don't like is Slatkins. I forget which label! Anyone,must stick to Gould,here!
I must say,and I know it's not that important. I do quite like RCA's 'artwork'. It's fun,bright & catches the eye! I'd be picking it up,even if I didn't know the music! Oh,and,thanks for the further Gould (conducting) recommendations,'listener'!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2013, 10:55:58 PM »
As it happens all squids are fairly damp (well the live ones are), so I think it's a damp squib you're after  ;)

Good point!  :)
"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 vandermolen

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 10:58:40 PM »
I can say I've enjoyed everything I've heard from Gould so far. I really connect to his freewheeling spirit. His musical personality seemed to not give a damn if you're in the 'mood' to hear his music or not. He always did his own thing, which I admire. I listened to Jekyll and Hyde Variations earlier today and really enjoyed the work actually. Followed this up with the ballet Fall River Legend, which is a great work. I suppose you just don't have the 'ears' for Gould, Jeffrey.

Well John, I will have another go at 'Jekyll and Hyde'. Come to think of it he wrote 'Latin American Symphonette' which I do like - I have on an old Vanguard (great label) coupled with Charlton Heston narrating Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait'.
"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 Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2013, 05:57:18 AM »
Well John, I will have another go at 'Jekyll and Hyde'. Come to think of it he wrote 'Latin American Symphonette' which I do like - I have on an old Vanguard (great label) coupled with Charlton Heston narrating Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait'.

I think Gould was at his best in the jazz-influenced works. Jekyll and Hyde Variations isn't a work I would frequent, but it wasn't a 'bad' work. Fall River Legend is much better as is all those Symphonettes he wrote. I think there were three or four of them.
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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2013, 06:02:17 AM »
. . . Charlton Heston narrating Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait'.

You're a better man than I, Jeffrey; I don't think I could take that.
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cilgwyn

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2013, 08:23:40 AM »
You're a better man than I, Jeffrey; I don't think I could take that.
I love that image of a damp squid!
I was wondering whether squibs were related to squids? But,apparently a squib is a miniature explosive device!

Fascinating!

cilgwyn

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2013, 08:58:20 AM »
Ahem! Talking about squids! :o ::) My apologies,Karl! :(  Okay (changing the subject,quickly!).........regarding Gould's Latin American Symphonette. As a teenager,I remember buying the Varese Sarabande of Gould conducting Gould,with the LSO. I think the cover artwork 'lured' me. A lavish black gatefold album with a very striking Aztec (I think) desigh on the front in bright yellow. Embossed too,I think! It was one of those early digital Lp releases with warnings about possible damage to your equipment;the kind of thing that is both scary & worrying,for an impressionable,gullible teenager! Anyway,the performance of the 'Latin American Symphonette' was absolutely sensational. Really quite viscerally exciting. A sonic spectacular. It sounded like an absolute American classic in that performance..........and it's never been reissued. Repeat searches have only dredged up s/h Lps!!!!!
The fools!!!!! :( ;D

cilgwyn

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2013, 10:28:16 AM »

[/img]
A lavish,gatefold sleeve,with a photo of Gould,conducting the LSO, inside (or on the back?). The yellow design was embossed. I used to prop it up in front of me while the Lp was playing.
One secondhand Lp for sale on Amazon in excellent condition. Only £199.00,and not even good ratings!! But there we are!!

I think I'll wait for a cd reissue!! ;D

Annoying how a recording like this can languish in record company 'vault' limbo. I see,from a quick search on Amazon,that the label name still exists;but their catalogue seems to be consist entirely (I think?) of popular music,now.
A label like Albany,who recently reissued Koch recordings of Moross,could do the job,perhaps? (The fill-ups were spectacularly performed,although not quite on the inspirational level of the Symphonette).
A hi-fi spectacular,and no cd reissue!! >:( :(
« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 10:33:59 AM by cilgwyn »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2013, 12:32:31 PM »
You're a better man than I, Jeffrey; I don't think I could take that.

It could be worse Karl - I have a ghastly feeling that there is a version narrated by Margaret Thatcher - although this may have been just a nightmare I had.
"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 Mirror Image

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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2013, 02:57:11 PM »
Just finished listening to Interplay, a work for piano and orchestra, and it's really a good work. I think you would enjoy this one, Jeffrey.
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Re: Morton Gould (1913 - 1996)
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2013, 01:39:14 AM »
It could be worse Karl - I have a ghastly feeling that there is a version narrated by Margaret Thatcher - although this may have been just a nightmare I had.

Hah! (not to seem to make light of your nightmares, Jeffrey . . . .)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot