Author Topic: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)  (Read 22307 times)

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Offline jowcol

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2009, 05:58:36 AM »
Of all the American Composers Jeffrey listed at the first post on this thread, I'd have no trouble placing Hanson as my favorite as well. 

Of course, the Second Symphony is the place to start if you are new to Hanson.  As a rule, I'm not that big into Choral works, but the Lament for Beowulf is a masterpiece!

Of the other symphonies, the 4th (Requiem) has to be my fave.  I've been know to listen to it on repeat for hours.  Nice and dark, lots of melancholy, but not sappy.  The third is great, but it's more traditional in form. There is a great moment in the 7th where he echoes THE riff from the 2nd.  But the 4th is the one I'd take to a desert Island.

Among other goodies-- you should look for Mosaics (a later austere work that pushes the envelope a bit) and Pan and the Priest is also fantastic. 

I'm not the biggest fan of concerti-- sometimes it seems like writing for the soloist seems to overshadow the music.  But Hanson's Piano concerto is one that I'm drawn to time and time again-- it's just a great work of music.

I forget who told this story, but someone who had a radio show started playing  the Second Symphony by the "Late Howard Hanson".   The phone rang at the radio station, and it turned out to the the "Late" Howard Hanson himself, explaining good naturedly to the radio show host  that he wasn't exactly dead.

Although he labeled himself a romantic, I see him as a composer who, although he could draw from a wealth of 20th Century technique, kept in mind at all times that his first duty was to tell a story. 






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Offline jowcol

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2009, 06:28:40 AM »
Oops!  I left out the Organ  Concerto by Hanson that is also a real gem.  It is worth the price of admission on the Naxos disc that came out recently( more or less).

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #22 on: May 01, 2009, 08:05:19 AM »
Oops!  I left out the Organ  Concerto by Hanson that is also a real gem.  It is worth the price of admission on the Naxos disc that came out recently( more or less).



Nice to see this thread revived.

Do you know the Bold Island Suite which is really good ?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #23 on: May 01, 2009, 09:10:12 AM »
Am listening to Schwarz's Delos CD of Symphony No 4 (in memory of his father) and Lament for Beowulf...a great disc. 
I remember being very impressed with this once upon a time.....so I am playing it now. Thank you for reminding me. Glorious tunes. All those fans of Atterberg really ought to immerse themselves in Hanson as well.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2009, 03:19:28 PM »
I agree with Martin Lind that Gerard Schwarz is not necessarily the greatest conductor in the world and that his performances can err on the side of 'ordinary' at times. In his Schuman cycle for Delos he does not always manage to capture the savage barbarity of some of the music. However...and it is a big 'however'..I would never fault his enterprise in being prepared to conduct the music of composers like Schuman, Piston, Diamond and Hanson. It is unlikely that we shall get another complete set of the Hanson symphonies from anyone and they have given me much pleasure over the years :) Rich, romantic, tuneful...throughly enjoyable music :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2009, 09:41:58 PM »
I agree with Martin Lind that Gerard Schwarz is not necessarily the greatest conductor in the world and that his performances can err on the side of 'ordinary' at times. In his Schuman cycle for Delos he does not always manage to capture the savage barbarity of some of the music. However...and it is a big 'however'..I would never fault his enterprise in being prepared to conduct the music of composers like Schuman, Piston, Diamond and Hanson. It is unlikely that we shall get another complete set of the Hanson symphonies from anyone and they have given me much pleasure over the years :) Rich, romantic, tuneful...throughly enjoyable music :)

Yes, I too have much enjoyed Hanson's symphonies - all of them, but especially nos 1-4. I like Hanson's own recordings of 1-3 on Mercury but regret that the old Mercury version of Symphony No 4 on LP (which may not have been conducted by Hanson - can anyone enlighten me on this?) never seems to have made it to CD.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2009, 12:12:01 PM »
I have been listening tonight to the old Mercury recording of Hanson conducting the Eastman-Rochester Orchestra in his own Third Symphony (my favourite), the very moving 'Elegy In Memory of My Friend Serge Koussevitsky' and the 'Lament for Beowolf' What a great CD! All three works are wonderful (IMHO).
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2009, 02:55:49 PM »
Just another plug for this great disc which I've been enjoying once again.  Not only is it a fine tribute to the late Erich Kunzel, who conducts a first-rate performance of Hanson's 'Romantic Symphony' (No.2) but it also contains the only recording of the 'Bold Island Suite', which is also Hanson at his best - a great work.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline schweitzeralan

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2009, 05:42:13 PM »
I like many American composers: Copland, Bernstein, Harris, Barber, Diamond, Schuman, Creston, Ives, Piston etc but I have a special soft spot for the music of Howard Hanson, which has an endearing warmth about it. It is certainly "old fashioned" but to me this is part of its appeal.

I have recently discovered his "Bold Island Suite" (on Telarc), which cheers me up whenever I listen to it. I have the Mercury Symphony set and the complete symphonies on Delos (a great box set with lots of other orchestral music, including the fine Piano Concerto and epic Lament for Beowulf as well as the very moving Elegy in memory of Serge Koussevitsky).  Koussevitsky's performance of Hanson's Third Symphony (Dutton is the best transfer) brings to it an epic sibelian quality, unlike any other performance (including Hanson's own on Mercury). I think that it is the greatest disc of Hanson's music.  There is a servicable super-budget Arte Nova CD (symphony 2 and 4) and I wonder why Mercury never released their recording of Symphony 4 (one of the best), on CD.

Any other thoughts on this composer?

Never heard the "Bold Island Suite." I'll have to check it out. I always thought that Hanson always received the "raw deal" from many critics due to his conservatively oriented works.  Hanson always was and will remain one of my very favorite composers.  I heard is 2nd Symphony for the first time when I was about 2 or 3 years old. I'll always recall that I actually met him at Chautauqua some six months before he died. He was attending a concert and was accompanied by several friends.  I recognized him and introduced myself and told him him how much I loved his symphonies and other orchestral works.  He then smiled and asked who I was, and I told him I was one of his devoted fans.  We shook hands, he then thanked me and went on his way.   I've known one or two people who were affiliated with the university where I had taught.  They were no longer involved in the music profession, but both had studied at one time with Hanson years ago. Both had told me Hanson was always a gentleman and was very gracious.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2009, 04:08:06 AM by schweitzeralan »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #29 on: November 01, 2009, 05:32:39 AM »
Never heard the "Bold Island Suite." I'll have to check it out. I always thought that Hanson always received the "raw deal" from many critics due to his conservatively oriented works.  Hanson always was and will remain one of my very favorite composers.  I heard is 2nd Symphony for the first time when I was about 2 or 3 years old. I'll always recall that I actually met him at Chautauqua some six months before he died. He was attending a concert and was accompanied by several friends.  I recognized him and introduced myself and told him him how much I loved his symphonies and other orchestral works.  He then smiled and asked who I was, and I told him I was one of his devoted fans.  We shook hands, he then thanked me and went on his way.   I've known one or two people who were affiliated with the university where I had taught.  They were no longer involved in the music profession, but both had studied at one time with Hanson years ago. Both had told me Hanson was always a gentleman and was very gracious.

What a lovely story about you meeting Hanson - how nice. Thank you for sharing that. It does not surprise me to hear that he was a gentleman. The only similar experience I had was when, as a child, I met the horror film (Lord of the Rings) actor Christopher Lee, who was very kind to me.

You must listen to 'Bold Island' which is classic Howard Hanson and typically life-affirming.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline schweitzeralan

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2009, 08:50:18 AM »
What a lovely story about you meeting Hanson - how nice. Thank you for sharing that. It does not surprise me to hear that he was a gentleman. The only similar experience I had was when, as a child, I met the horror film (Lord of the Rings) actor Christopher Lee, who was very kind to me.

You must listen to 'Bold Island' which is classic Howard Hanson and typically life-affirming.

Yes.  Thanks for posting that info.  I hope to listen to it soon.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2009, 11:35:55 AM »
Yes.  Thanks for posting that info.  I hope to listen to it soon.

Let us know what you think in due course - I am listening to that CD now  :)
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Offline drogulus

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2009, 01:02:54 PM »


    As fine as his 2nd Symphony is I think his best are the 3rd and 4th. And I'd strongly recommend the Sinfonia Sacra (No. 5). I wouldn't say Hanson is my favorite American composer (Schuman, Diamond, and Herrman contend for that), though sometimes when I'm listening I wonder if in fact he is.
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2009, 01:17:02 PM »
In his Schuman cycle for Delos he does not always manage to capture the savage barbarity of some of the music....

I too am grateful for Schwarz's cycle but can't help wishing Bernstein would have recorded Hanson too. His American recorded repertoire is peerless, and priceless. I imagine he would have done Hanson justice. Now, someone please tell me there are Lenny Hanson recordings and I've simply missed them!

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he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2009, 02:20:56 PM »

    As fine as his 2nd Symphony is I think his best are the 3rd and 4th. And I'd strongly recommend the Sinfonia Sacra (No. 5). I wouldn't say Hanson is my favorite American composer (Schuman, Diamond, and Herrman contend for that), though sometimes when I'm listening I wonder if in fact he is.

I agree about symphonies 3 and 4 being the best (the Koussevitsky recording of No 3 is in a class of its own). I also love the very moving Elegy for Koussevitsky. Has the old Mercury recording of Symphony No 4 ever made it to CD?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline drogulus

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #35 on: November 03, 2009, 04:54:56 PM »
I agree about symphonies 3 and 4 being the best (the Koussevitsky recording of No 3 is in a class of its own). I also love the very moving Elegy for Koussevitsky. Has the old Mercury recording of Symphony No 4 ever made it to CD?

    I don't think so. Strange as it may seem I've never heard any of the Mercury Hanson.

   

     
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #36 on: November 04, 2009, 10:42:27 AM »
    I don't think so. Strange as it may seem I've never heard any of the Mercury Hanson.      

Here they all are (other than Symphony 4  >:() in a great boxed set.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2009, 02:19:01 PM »
In the Griffes thread I have mentioned the wonderful performance of Howard Hanson's Romantic Symphony on the Chesky label, conducted by Charles Gerhardt. This was recorded in 1967 and I first came across it on an RCA LP coupled with a magnificent performance of Griffes's The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan. Having the CD is like being reunited with an old friend - the digital transfer is wonderfully warm and has great depth.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #38 on: November 04, 2009, 10:59:23 PM »
In the Griffes thread I have mentioned the wonderful performance of Howard Hanson's Romantic Symphony on the Chesky label, conducted by Charles Gerhardt. This was recorded in 1967 and I first came across it on an RCA LP coupled with a magnificent performance of Griffes's The Pleasure-Dome of Kubla Khan. Having the CD is like being reunited with an old friend - the digital transfer is wonderfully warm and has great depth.
That RCA LP is in my collection as well - and treasured it is!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
« Reply #39 on: November 05, 2009, 12:00:34 AM »
I also bought that RCA LP years and years ago, and literally wore it out through repeated playing.  I hadn't realised it had been transferred to CD, so thank you for posting this.

My pleasure,

Not only that, but the extra stuff on the CD - extracts from Copland's Billy the Kid and Rodeo + a charming Morton Gould piece are also brilliantly done.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).