Where are All of the American Composers?

Augusta Read Thomas with composer and OSU Professor Emeritus Donald Harris before a performance of Ms. Thomas' work 'Jubilee' by the New Albany Symphony in 2012.(Photo: Boyce Lancaster)
Augusta Read Thomas with composer and OSU Professor Emeritus Donald Harris before a performance of Ms. Thomas' work 'Jubilee' by the New Albany Symphony in 2012.(Photo: Boyce Lancaster)

Most of us can name a fair number of American composers – Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams.  All have written great music which has become part of the musical landscape.  

How about these composers?  

Nico Muhly, Amy Wurtz, Michael Daugherty, Augusta Read Thomas and Joan Tower?  Possibly not so familiar.That will change, if writer and music critic Lawrence A. Johnson has anything to say about it.

The American Music Project is ”a nonprofit foundation that supports performances of existing works of American classical music, while also commissioning new works from American composers.”  The first commission is being written, even as you read this.

Amy A. Wurtz, a California-born composer, is putting the finishing touches on her Piano Quintet, which will receive it’s World Premiere in Chicago on October 5. The pianist/composer will perform with the Chicago Q Ensemble.

Not only is the American Music Project commissioning music from American composers, the organization is also supporting performances of existing works by composers such as David Diamond.

Walter Piston

and Irving Fine

Some of their more recent grants have enabled audiences to hear music by Carlisle Floyd and Marvin David Levy.

Classical 101 listeners have an opportunity to hear music by American composers each Saturday evening at 6pm.  Jennifer Hambrick hosts a wide-ranging hour of music on The American Sound. Virgil Thomson, Scott Joplin, Don Gillis, Gordon Goodwin, and Judith Lang Zaimont are just some of the composers Jennifer brings you way each weekend.

There’s a lot of great American music out there and Classical 101 will help you find it!

Read Lawrence A. Johnson launches American Music Project

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