February 15, 1999 |
A title is a title is a title. And as titles go, "Prepare for Saints" fills the bill like a rose to a vase. Steven Watson has written an admirable behind-the-scenes Baedeker to the seven years of preparation leading to the smash 1934 Broadway opening of the opera "Four Saints in Three Acts." With libretto by Gertrude Stein, score by Virgil Thomson, stage direction by John Houseman, choreography by Frederick Ashton and featuring an all-black cast playing St. Theresa of Avila, St.
December 3, 1989 |
Virgil Thomson always considered his importance as a composer to reside in his vocal music. "I shall probably be remembered, if at all, for my operas," he wrote in "American Music Since 1910," adding elsewhere, "I can make the words-and-music thing function probably better than anybody else." For Thomson, words were central to music. If a vocal piece was to be coherent, the text had to be clearly understood and its structure and accentuation meticulously preserved in the musical treatment.
September 8, 1985 |
Nadia Boulanger thought of herself simply as a teacher. That's a little bit like thinking of Michelangelo as an illustrator, Beethoven as a tunesmith or Shakespeare as a storyteller. Boulanger was a force, a landmark, a gauge. Her one-woman school in Paris, affectionately known as the "Boulangerie," shaped destinies.
January 31, 2010
The Pacific Symphony's annual American Composers Festival explores a different facet of music in America. This year's festival -- the 10th -- focuses on "The Greatest Generation," examining themes from the Depression of the 1930s through World War II. Programs at the Orange County Performing Arts Center will feature composers Aaron Copland and Kurt Weill as well as a world premiere of Michael Daugherty's "Mount Rushmore." In addition, the festival includes performances by two student arts groups to explore the festival's themes.
September 30, 1990 |
Sotheby's in New York City has announced the sale of items from the estate of Virgil Thomson. When the late American composer and critic died at age 92 in October of last year, he left his famous apartment at the Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan filled with furniture, paintings and sculpture. With the exception of several works by Florine Stettheimer, Marcel Duchamp and Jean Arp (to be sold by the auction house at sales Wednesday and Nov.
April 3, 2000 |
"The Mother of Us All" is, but for one problem, the ideal candidate for America's national opera. Written in 1945 and 1946 in the glow of World War II victory, it is about suffragette Susan B. Anthony, about battles won and hope for a just American future. It waves flags but not unrealistically. It has, in fact, a subtly wistful tone; its words are Gertrude Stein's last--she died of cancer just as she completed the libretto. Her language is pure American dialect but artfully assembled.