Music from East Coast and West Coast on Symphony @ 7

John Knowles Paine(Photo: Wikipedia)
John Knowles Paine(Photo: Wikipedia)

“Celebrating American Symphonies” continues this evening on Symphony @ 7  with music of the 19th and 20th centuries from John Knowles Paine and Lou Harrison.

From the East Coast, we have John Knowles Paine (1839-1906) who grew up in Maine and in 1861 settled in Boston and was on the faculty at Harvard until just a year before his death.  He was the oldest member of the “Boston Six,” the group of influential composers that included Amy Beach, Arthur Foote, Edward MacDowell, George Chadwick, and Horatio Parker.

Paine’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor was first performed in Boston in 1876 and is said to effectively mark the beginning of the American symphonic tradition.  He was trained in the European tradition, and his Mass in D from 1867 was well received in Berlin.  The First Symphony is a four movement, full-size Romantic symphony, and we’ll hear it on this evening’s program.

From the West Coast, we have Lou Harrison who was born in Portland Oregon in 1917 and was a student of Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg.  Harrison is particularly noted for using elements of non-western musical traditions, such as Javanese gamelan music.

He lived in California most of his life, but for a few years in the 1940′s Harrison lived in New York City.  While there, he became friends with Charles Ives and in 1946 conducted the first public performance of Ives’ Third Symphony, which had been written many years earlier.  The following year, Ives received the Pulitzer Prize for music.  Harrison also supported and promoted the music of Carl Ruggles and Alan Hovhaness, two more very individual American composers.

During the hour this evening, we’ll have Lou Harrison’s Suite for Violin, Piano and Small Orchestra from 1951.  Here’s a sample:

By the end of his life, Lou Harrison was an important figure as an “American Original.”  He died of a heart attack in Indiana while on his way to a festival of his music at The Ohio State University in 2003.

Although we’re not hearing it on Symphony @ 7 this evening, on YouTube I found this beautiful mass by Lou Harrison from 1954:

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