Henry Dixon Cowell (/ˈkaʊəl/; March 11, 1897 – December 10, 1965)
was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher,
and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up
by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:
Henry Cowell's music covers a wider range in both expression and
technique than that of any other living composer. His experiments
begun three decades ago in rhythm, in harmony, and in instrumental
sonorities were considered then by many to be wild. Today they are the
Bible of the young and still, to the conservatives, "advanced."... No
other composer of our time has produced a body of works so radical and
so normal, so penetrating and so comprehensive. Add to this massive
production his long and influential career as a pedagogue, and Henry
Cowell's achievement becomes impressive indeed. There is no other
quite like it. To be both fecund and right is given to few.
1 Early life
2 Prime of career
2.1 Musical pioneer
2.2 Ultra-modernist and world music leader
4 Late career
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 Selected discography
10.1 Recordings by Cowell
10.2 Selected other recordings of his works
11 External links
Born in rural Menlo Park, California, to two bohemian writers—his
father was an Irish immigrant and his mother, a former schoolteacher,
had relocated from Iowa—Cowell demonstrated precocious musical
talent and began playing the violin at the age of five. After his
parents' divorce in 1903, he was raised by his mother, Clarissa Dixon,
author of the early feminist novel Janet and Her Dear Phebe. His
father, with whom he maintained contact, introduced him to the Irish
music that would be a touchstone for Cowell throughout his career.
While receiving no formal musical education (and little schooling of
any kind beyond his mother's home tutelage), he began to compose in
By the summer of 1914, Cowell was writing truly individualistic works,
including the insistently repetitive Anger Dance (originally Mad
Dance). That fall, the largely self-taught Cowell was admitted to
the University of California, Berkeley, as a protégé of Charles
Seeger. There he studied harmony and other subjects under Seeger and
Edward Griffith Stricklen and counterpoint under Wallace Arthur
Sabin. After two years at Berkeley, Cowell pursued further studies
in New York where he encountered Leo Ornstein, the radically
"futurist" composer-pianist. Still a teenager, Cowell wrote the piano
piece Dynamic Motion (1916), his first important work to explore the
possibilities of the tone cluster ( listen (help·info)). It
requires the performer to use both forearms to play massive secundal
chords and calls for keys to be held down without sounding to extend
and intensify its dissonant cluster overtones.
Cowell soon returned to California, where he had become involved with
a theosophical community, Halcyon, led by the Irish poet John Varian,
who fueled Cowell's interest in Irish folk culture and mythology. In
1917, Cowell wrote the music for Varian's stage production The
Building of Banba; the prelude he composed, The Tides of Manaunaun,
with its rich, evocative clusters, would become Cowell's most famous
and widely performed work. In later years, Cowell would claim that
the piece had been composed around 1912 (and Dynamic Motion in 1914),
in an evident attempt to make his musical innovations appear even more
precocious than they already were.
Prime of career
Beginning in the early 1920s, Cowell toured widely in North America
and Europe as a pianist, playing his own experimental works, seminal
explorations of atonality, polytonality, polyrhythms, and non-Western
modes. It was on one of these tours that in 1923, his friend Richard
Buhlig introduced Cowell to young pianist
Grete Sultan in Berlin. They
worked closely together—an aspect vital to Grete Sultan's personal
and artistic development. Cowell later made such an impression with
his tone cluster technique that
Béla Bartók requested his permission
to adopt it. Another novel method advanced by Cowell, in pieces such
as Aeolian Harp (ca. 1923), was what he dubbed "string piano"—rather
than using the keys to play, the pianist reaches inside the instrument
and plucks, sweeps, and otherwise manipulates the strings directly.
Cowell's endeavors with string piano techniques were the primary
inspiration for John Cage's development of the prepared piano. In
early chamber music pieces, such as Quartet Romantic (1915–17) and
Quartet Euphometric (1916–19 listen (help·info)), Cowell
pioneered a compositional approach he called "rhythm-harmony": "Both
quartets are polyphonic, and each melodic strand has its own rhythm,"
he explained. "Even the canon in the first movement of the Romantic
has different note-lengths for each voice."
In 1919, Cowell had begun writing New Musical Resources, which would
finally be published after extensive revision in 1930. Focusing on the
variety of innovative rhythmic and harmonic concepts he used in his
compositions (and others that were still entirely speculative), it
would have a powerful effect on the American musical avant-garde for
decades after. Conlon Nancarrow, for instance, would refer to it years
later as having "the most influence of anything I've ever read in
Cowell's interest in harmonic rhythm, as discussed in New Musical
Resources, led him in 1930 to commission
Léon Theremin to invent the
Rhythmicon, or Polyrhythmophone, a transposable keyboard instrument
capable of playing notes in periodic rhythms proportional to the
overtone series of a chosen fundamental pitch. The world's first
electronic rhythm machine, with a photoreceptor-based sound production
system proposed by Cowell (not a theremin-like system, as some sources
incorrectly state), it could produce up to sixteen different rhythmic
patterns simultaneously, complete with optional syncopation. Cowell
wrote several original compositions for the instrument, including an
orchestrated concerto, and
Theremin built two more models. Soon,
Rhythmicon would be virtually forgotten, remaining so
until the 1960s, when progressive pop music producer Joe Meek
experimented with its rhythmic concept.
Cowell pursued a radical compositional approach through the mid-1930s,
with solo piano pieces remaining at the heart of his
output—important works from this era include The Banshee (1925),
requiring numerous playing methods such as pizzicato and longitudinal
sweeping and scraping of the strings
( listen (help·info)), and the manic, cluster-filled
Tiger (1930), inspired by William Blake's famous poem. Much of
Cowell's public reputation continued to be based on his trademark
pianistic technique: a critic for the San Francisco News, writing in
1932, referred to Cowell's "famous 'tone clusters,' probably the most
startling and original contribution any American has yet contributed
to the field of music." A prolific composer of songs (he would
write over 180 during his career), Cowell returned in 1930–31 to
Aeolian Harp, adapting it as the accompaniment to a vocal setting of a
poem by his father, How Old Is Song? He built on his substantial
oeuvre of chamber music, with pieces such as the Adagio for Cello and
Thunder Stick (1924) that explored unusual instrumentation and others
that were even more progressive: Six Casual Developments (1933), for
clarinet and piano, sounds like something
Jimmy Giuffre would compose
thirty years later. His Ostinato Pianissimo (1934) placed him in the
vanguard of those writing original scores for percussion ensemble. He
created forceful large-ensemble pieces during this period as well,
such as the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1928)—with its three
movements, "Polyharmony," "Tone Cluster," and "Counter Rhythm"
( listen (help·info))—and the Sinfonietta (1928), whose
Anton Webern conducted in Vienna. In the early 1930s,
Cowell began to delve seriously into aleatoric procedures, creating
opportunities for performers to determine primary elements of a
score's realization. One of his major chamber pieces, the Mosaic
Quartet (String Quartet No. 3) (1935), is scored as a collection of
five movements with no preordained sequence.
Ultra-modernist and world music leader
Cowell was the central figure in a circle of avant-garde composers
that included his good friends
Carl Ruggles and Dane Rudhyar, as well
as Leo Ornstein, John Becker, Colin McPhee, French expatriate Edgard
Varèse, and Ruth Crawford, whom he convinced
Charles Seeger to take
on as a student (Crawford and Seeger would eventually marry). Cowell
and his circle were sometimes referred to as "ultra-modernists," a
label whose definition is flexible and origin unclear (it has also
been applied to a few composers outside the immediate circle, such as
George Antheil, and to some of its disciples, such as Nancarrow);
Virgil Thomson styled them the "rhythmic research fellows." In
1925, Cowell organized the New Music Society, one of whose primary
activities was the staging of concerts of their works along with those
of artistic allies such as
Wallingford Riegger and Arnold Schoenberg,
who would later ask Cowell to play for his composition class during
one of his European tours. In 1927 Cowell founded the periodical New
Music Quarterly, which would publish many significant new scores under
his editorship, both by the ultra-modernists and many others,
including Ernst Bacon, Otto Luening, Paul Bowles, and Aaron Copland.
Before the publication of the first issue, he solicited contributions
from a then-obscure composer who would become one of his closest
friends, Charles Ives. Major scores by Ives, including the Comedy from
the Fourth Symphony, Fourth of July, 34 Songs, and 19 Songs, would
receive their first publication in New Music; in turn, Ives would
provide financial support to a number of Cowell's projects (including,
years later, New Music itself). Many of the scores published in
Cowell's journal were made even more widely available as performances
of them were issued by the record label he established in 1934, New
The ultra-modernist movement had expanded its reach in 1928, when
Cowell led a group that included Ruggles, Varèse, his fellow
expatriate Carlos Salzedo, American composer Emerson Whithorne, and
Carlos Chávez in founding the Pan-American
Association of Composers, dedicated to promoting composers from around
the Western Hemisphere and creating a community among them that would
transcend national lines. Its inaugural concert, held in New York City
in March 1929, featured exclusively Latin American music, including
works by Chávez, Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, Cuban
composer Alejandro García Caturla, and the French-born Cuban Amadeo
Roldán. Its next concert, in April 1930, focused on the U.S.
ultra-modernists, with works by Cowell, Crawford, Ives, Rudhyar, and
others such as Antheil, Henry Brant, and Vivian Fine. Over the
next four years,
Nicolas Slonimsky conducted concerts sponsored by the
association in New York, across Europe, and, in 1933, Cuba. Cowell
himself had performed there in 1930 and met with Caturla, whom he was
publishing in New Music. Cowell would continue to work on both his
behalf and Roldán's, whose Rítmica No. 5 (1930) was the first
free-standing piece of Western classical music written specifically
for percussion ensemble. During this era, Cowell also spread the
ultra-modernists' experimental creed as a highly regarded teacher of
composition and theory—among his many students were George Gershwin,
Lou Harrison, who said he thought of Cowell as "the mentor of
mentors," and John Cage, who proclaimed Cowell "the open sesame
for new music in America."
Encouragement of the music of Caturla and Roldán, with their proudly
African-based rhythms, and of Chávez, whose work often involved
instruments and themes of Mexico's indigenous peoples, was natural for
Cowell. Growing up on the West Coast, he had been exposed to a great
deal of what is now known as "world music"; along with Irish airs and
dances, he encountered music from China, Japan, and Tahiti. These
early experiences helped form his unusually eclectic musical outlook,
exemplified by his famous statement "I want to live in the whole world
of music." He went on to investigate
Indian classical music
Indian classical music and,
in the late 1920s, began teaching a course, "Music of the World's
Peoples," at the
New School for Social Research in New York and
elsewhere—Harrison's tutelage under Cowell would begin when he
enrolled in a version of the course in San Francisco. In 1931 a
Guggenheim fellowship enabled Cowell to go to Berlin to study
comparative musicology (the predecessor to ethnomusicology) with Erich
von Hornbostel. He studied Carnatic theory and gamelan, as well, with
leading instructors from South India (P. Sambamoorthy), Java (Raden
Mas Jodjhana), and Bali (Ramaleislan).
Sidney Robertson Cowell
In May 1936, Cowell was arrested on a "morals" charge for allegedly
having oral sex with a seventeen-year-old boy. After initially denying
the allegation, under questioning he admitted not only to it but to
additional sex acts with the teenager and his male friends. While
jailed awaiting a court hearing, he wrote a full confession
accompanied by a request for leniency on the basis that "he was not
exclusively homosexual but was in fact in love with a woman he hoped
to marry". The charge was not dropped and Cowell, overruling his
attorneys, pled guilty; probation was denied, and he received the
standard sentence of one to fifteen years. In August 1937, after a
parole hearing, the board of pardons fixed his term of incarceration
at the maximum decade-and-a-half.
Cowell would ultimately spend four years in San Quentin State
Prison. There he taught fellow inmates, directed the prison band,
and continued to write music at his customary prolific pace, producing
around sixty compositions, including two major pieces for
percussion ensemble: the Oriental-toned Pulse (1939) and the memorably
sepulchral Return (1939). He also continued his experiments in
aleatory music: for all three movements of the Amerind Suite (1939),
he wrote five versions, each more difficult than the last.
Interpreters of the piece are invited to simultaneously perform two or
even three versions of the same movement on multiple pianos. In the
Ritournelle (Larghetto and Trio) (1939) for the dance piece Marriage
at the Eiffel Tower, performing in Seattle, he explored what he called
"elastic" form. The twenty-four measures of the Larghetto and the
eight of the Trio are each modular; though Cowell offers some
suggestions, any hypothetically may be included or not and played once
or repeatedly, allowing the piece to stretch or contract at the
performers' will—the practical goal being to give a choreographer
freedom to adjust the length and character of a dance piece without
the usual constraints imposed by a prewritten musical composition.
Cowell had contributed to the Eiffel Tower project at the behest of
Cage, who was not alone in lending support to his friend and former
teacher. Cowell's cause had been taken up by composers and musicians
around the country, although a few, including Ives, broke contact with
him. Cowell was eventually paroled in 1940; he relocated to the East
Coast and the following year married Sidney Hawkins Robertson
(1903–1995, married name Sidney Robertson Cowell), a prominent
folk-music scholar who had been instrumental in winning his freedom.
Cowell was granted a pardon in 1942.
Despite the pardon—which allowed him to work at the Office of War
Information, creating radio programs for broadcast overseas—arrest,
incarceration, and attendant notoriety had a devastating effect on
Cowell. Conlon Nancarrow, on meeting him for the first time in 1947,
reported, "The impression I got was that he was a terrified person,
with a feeling that 'they're going to get him.'" The experience
took a lasting toll on his music: Cowell's compositional output became
strikingly more conservative soon after his release from San Quentin,
with simpler rhythms and a more traditional harmonic language. Many of
his later works are based on American folk music, such as the series
of eighteen Hymn and Fuguing Tunes (1943–64); folk music had
certainly played a role in a number of Cowell's prewar compositions,
but the provocative transformations that had been his signature were
now largely abandoned. And, as Nancarrow observed, there were other
consequences to Cowell's imprisonment: "Of course, after that,
politically, he kept his mouth completely shut. He had been radical
politically, too, before."
No longer an artistic radical, Cowell nonetheless retained a
progressive bent and continued to be a leader (along with Harrison and
McPhee) in the incorporation of non-Western musical idioms, as in the
Japanese-inflected Ongaku (1957), Symphony No. 13, "Madras"
(1956–58) (which had its premiere in the eponymous city), and Homage
to Iran (1959). His most compelling, poignant songs date from this
era, including Music I Heard (to a poem by Conrad Aiken; 1961) and
Firelight and Lamp (to a poem by Gene Baro; 1962). Despite the break
in his friendship with Ives, Cowell, in collaboration with his wife,
wrote the first major study of Ives's music and provided crucial
support to Harrison as his former pupil championed the Ives
rediscovery. Cowell resumed teaching—Burt Bacharach, J. H. Kwabena
Nketia, and Irwin Swack were among his postwar students—and
served as a consultant to
Folkways Records for over a decade beginning
in the early 1950s, writing liner notes and editing such collections
as Music of the World's Peoples (1951–61) (he also hosted a radio
program of the same name) and Primitive Music of the World (1962).
In 1963 he recorded searching, vivid performances of twenty of his
seminal piano pieces for a Folkways album. Perhaps liberated by the
passage of time and his own seniority, in his final years Cowell again
produced a number of impressively individualistic works, such as
Thesis (Symphony No. 15; 1960) and 26 Simultaneous Mosaics (1963).
Cowell was elected to the American Institute of Arts and Letters in
1951. He died in 1965 in Shady, New York, after a series of illnesses.
Symphony no. 1 in Bm, 1918 (revised 1922, 1940)
Symphony no. 2, ‘Anthropos’, 1938
Symphony no. 3, ‘Gaelic’ for band and strings 1942
Symphony no. 4, ‘Short Symphony’ 1946
Symphony no. 5, 1948
Symphony no. 6 ,1952
Symphony no. 7, 1952
Symphony no. 8, for orchestra, with mixed chorus and optional
contralto solo, 1952
Symphony no. 9, 1953
Symphony no. 10, 1953
Symphony no. 11, ‘Seven Rituals of Music’ 1953
Symphony no. 12, 1956
Symphony no. 13, ‘Madras’, 1958
Symphony no. 14, 1960,
Symphony no. 15, ‘Thesis’, 1960
Symphony no. 16, ‘Icelandic’, 1962
Symphony no. 17, 1962
Symphony no. 18, 1964
Symphony no. 19, 1965
Symphony no. 20, 1965
Symphony no. 21 (incomplete) 1965 p. 353
List of solo piano compositions by Henry Cowell
Note: Correct dating and orthography of titles throughout is based on
the standard musicography, The Music of Henry Cowell: A Descriptive
Catalogue, by William Lichtenwanger (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn College
Institute for Studies in American Music, 1986).
^ The most recent standard collection of Virgil Thomson's writings,
Richard Kostelanetz and published in 2002, identifies
Thomson's statement as undated. The statement is excerpted at length
in the liner notes to the Smithsonian Folkways CD Henry Cowell: Piano
Music issued in 1993. There the quote is dated 1953, but no source is
provided. Given that (a) many of the dates listed for Cowell's piano
pieces in the Folkways liner notes are incorrect (see Hicks , p.
80, for more on that topic) and (b) Thomson refers to "experiments
begun three decades ago," a date earlier than 1953 is plausible.
^ Thomson (2002), p. 167.
^ Cowell describes the inspiration for the piece in the commentary
track he recorded for Folkways in 1963: "The Anger Dance was composed
at a time when I had been very much annoyed by the fact that a doctor
to whom I showed a bent-up leg suggested that it should be cut off
immediately. And since I didn't in the least approve of this, and
thinking of it over and over again made me more and more angry, I
stomped home on my crutches, and the phrases of the Anger Dance went
through my mind louder and louder as I walked home" (track
20/5:06–5:41). Cowell biographer Michael Hicks (2002) describes the
work as one of Cowell's "most prescient" and "proto-minimalist" (p.
60). The piece does, in terms of structure, anticipate minimalist
procedures, and an interpretation by Steffen Schleiermacher from 1993
is simultaneously metronomic and jazzy in a way that reveals its
kinship with the work of Steve Reich, in particular. But in his own
1963 recording, Cowell expresses a torment, through jagged tempi and
ambivalent dynamics (all clearly purposeful), that renders Anger Dance
very different in character from the work of the American minimalists.
^ Hicks (2002), p. 68.
^ Bartok et al. (1993), p. 14 (unpaginated).
^ Hicks (2002), p. 85.
^ Hicks (2002), p. 58.
^ Nicholls (1998), p. 523.
^ Quoted in Oja (1998), p. 4 (unpaginated).
^ Quoted in Gann (1995), p. 43.
^ Bartok et al. (1993), p. 12 (unpaginated).
^ For the composer's description of the inspiration, listen to Cowell
^ Quoted in Mead (1981), p. 190.
^ Kirkpatrick (1997), p. 105.
^ It is possible that Cowell had earlier dabbled in a more whimsical
form of aleatory. The liner notes to the Folkways Henry Cowell: Piano
Music, written in 1963 and revised in 1993, assert that each phrase of
Anger Dance "may be repeated many times, depending on how angry the
player is able to feel." Of Advertisement (Third Encore to Dynamic
Motion) (1917, not 1914 as the liner notes state)—which Cowell
called "a satire on repititious advertisement of a raucous nature"
(track 20/2:14–2:20)—it is likewise said that "there is a section
that may be repeated, to emphasize the absurdity, as many times as the
performer likes." Nicholls (1991) notes that, in fact, the published
score of Anger Dance "gives specific instructions regarding the number
of repetitions each musical fragment should be subjected to" (p. 167).
He observes, however, that Cowell in his own recording of the piece
reiterates certain phrases beyond the specified number.
^ Thomson (2002 ), p. 164.
^ Oja (2000), p. 194.
^ "Nicolas Slonimsky: Maverick Conductor" essay by Carol J. Oja; part
of the American Composers Orchestra website. Retrieved 4/14/07.
^ Sublette (2004), p. 405.
^ Solberger (1992), p. 2 (unpaginated). For instrumentation details,
see Percussion Ensemble Music 1910–1940. The first entr'acte in
Dmitri Shostakovich's opera The Nose (1928) is scored for percussion
^ "An interview with Lou Harrison" interview by Alan Baker, June 2002;
part of the American Public Media/American Mavericks website.
^ Cage (1959), p. 71.
^ Quoted in Nicholls (1991), p. 134.
^ Harrison (1997), p. 166; "Cowell, Henry" essay by David Nicholls,
from The New Grove Dictionary of Music Online; part of the Music
Library of The University of South Carolina website. Retrieved
4/14/07. Note that this source includes a photograph of a man with a
Rhythmicon; the man is not Cowell, as the image's position in the
article implies, but an associate, musical theorist Joseph
^ Hicks (2002), p. 134. See also Miller and Collins (2005), pp.
^ Hicks (2002), pp. 135–36.
^ Miller and Collins (2005), pp. 476, 482.
^ Krinsky, Charles (2002). "Cowell, Henry". glbtq.com. Archived from
the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-08-16.
^ Boziwick (2000).
^ Nicholls (1991), p. 167.
^ a b Quoted in Gann (1995), p. 44.
Irwin Swack Music
^ Essential Cowell: Selected Writings on Music publisher's summary;
part of the McPherson & Co. website. Retrieved 4/14/07.
^ Lichtenwanger. "The Music of Henry Cowell, a Descriptive
Bartok, Peter, Moses Asch, Marian Distler, and Sidney Cowell; revised
by Sorrel Hays (1993 ). Liner notes to Henry Cowell: Piano Music
(Smithsonian Folkways 40801).
Boziwick, George (2000). "
Henry Cowell at the New York Public Library:
A Whole World Of Music," Notes [Music Library Association], 57.1
Bredow, Moritz von. 2012. "Rebellische Pianistin. Das Leben der Grete
Sultan zwischen Berlin und New York." (Biography, in German. Contaomns
many links to
Henry Cowell and his work). Schott Music, Mainz,
Germany. ISBN 978-3-7957-0800-9
Cage, John (1959). "History of Experimental Music in the United
States" (available online), in Silence (1971 ),
pp. 67–75. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.
Cowell, Henry (1993 ). "Henry Cowell's Comments: The composer
describes each of the selections in the order in which they appear."
Track 20 of Henry Cowell: Piano Music (Smithsonian Folkways 40801).
Gann, Kyle (1995). The Music of Conlon Nancarrow. Cambridge, New York,
and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-02807-8
Harrison, Lou (1997). "Learning from Henry," in The Whole World of
Henry Cowell Symposium, ed. Nicholls; pp. 161–167.
Hicks, Michael (2002). Henry Cowell, Bohemian. Urbana: University of
Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02751-5
Kirkpatrick, John, et al. (1997 ). 20th-Century American
Masters: Ives, Thomson, Sessions, Cowell, Gershwin, Copland, Carter,
Barber, Cage, Bernstein. New York and London: W. W. Norton.
Lichtenwanger, William (1986). The Music of Henry Cowell: A
Descriptive Catalogue. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn College Institute for
Studies in American Music. ISBN 0-914678-26-4
Mead, Rita H. (1981). Henry Cowell's New Music, 1925–1936. Ann
Arbor, Mich.: UMI Research Press (excerpted online).
Miller, Leta H., and Rob Collins (2005). "The Cowell-Ives
Relationship: A New Look at Cowell's Prison Eyes." American Music 23,
no. 4 (Winter): 473–92 (available online).
Nicholls, David (1991 ). American Experimental Music
1890–1940. Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University
Press. ISBN 0-521-42464-X
Nicholls, David, ed. (1997). The Whole World of Music: A Henry Cowell
Symposium. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Press. ISBN 90-5755-003-2
Nicholls, David, ed. (1998). The Cambridge History of American Music.
Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
Oja, Carol J. (1998). Liner notes to Henry Cowell: Mosaic (Mode
Oja, Carol J. (2000.) Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s. New
York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505849-6
Sollberger, Harvey (1992 ). Liner notes to Percussion Music:
Works by Varèse, Colgrass, Saperstein, Cowell, Wuorinen (Nonesuch 9
Sublette, Ned (2004). Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the
Mambo. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 1-55652-516-8
Thomson, Virgil (2002). Virgil Thomson: A Reader—Selected Writings
1924–1984. Edited by Richard Kostelanetz. New York and London:
Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93795-7
Carwithen, Edward R. (1991). Henry Cowell:
Composer and Educator.
Ph.D. dissertation. Gainesville: University of Florida,.
Cowell, Henry, and Sidney Cowell (1981 ).
Charles Ives and His
Music. New York: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-76125-4
Cowell, Henry (1996 ). New Musical Resources. Annotated, with an
accompanying essay, by David Nicholls. Cambridge, New York, and
Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49974-7
Cowell, Henry (2002). Essential Cowell: Selected Writings on Music,
edited, with an introduction, by Dick Higgins, preface by Kyle Gann.
Kingston, N.Y.: McPherson. ISBN 0-929701-63-1
Galván, Gary (2006). “Cowell in Cartoon: A Pugilistic Pianist’s
Impact on Pop Culture.” Hawaii International Conference on Arts and
Humanities, January 11–14, 2006, Conference Proceedings. ISSN
1541-5899[full citation needed]
Galván, Gary (2007).
Henry Cowell in the Fleisher Collection. Ph.D.
dissertation. Gainesville: University of Florida.
Johnson, Steven (1993). "Henry Cowell, John Varian, and Halcyon."
American Music 11, no. 1 (Spring): 1-27.
Sachs, Joel (2012). Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-510895-8.
Saylor, Bruce (1977). The Writings of Henry Cowell: A Descriptive
Bibliography. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Brooklyn College Institute for Studies
in American Music. ISBN 0-914678-07-8
Spilker, John D. (2010). "Substituting a New Order": Dissonant
Counterpoint, Henry Cowell, and the Network of Ultra-Modern Composers.
Ph.D. dissertation, Tallahassee: Florida State University.
Recordings by Cowell
Henry Cowell: Piano Music (Smithsonian Folkways 40801)—performances
of twenty of his compositions for solo piano, including Dynamic
Motion, The Tides of Manaunaun, Aeolian Harp, The Banshee, and Tiger,
and a commentary track (album pictured in article)
Tales of Our Countryside (American Columbia 78rpm Set X 235, recorded
July 5, 1941)—the All-American Youth Orchestra conducted by Leopold
Stokowski, with Cowell as piano soloist
Selected other recordings of his works
American Piano Concertos:
Henry Cowell (col legno
20064)—large-ensemble pieces, including Concerto for Piano and
Orchestra and Sinfonietta, as well as
The Tides of Manaunaun
The Tides of Manaunaun and other
pieces for solo piano; performed by the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony
Orchestra, Michael Stern—director, Stefan Litwin—piano
The Bad Boys!: George Antheil, Henry Cowell,
Leo Ornstein (hatHUT
6144)—solo piano pieces, including Anger Dance, The Tides of
Manaunaun, and Tiger; performed by Steffen Schleiermacher
Dancing with Henry (mode 101)—solo and chamber pieces, including two
versions of Ritournelle (Larghetto); performed by California
Parallèle Ensemble, Nicole Paiement–conductor and director,
Henry Cowell (First Edition 0003)—orchestral pieces, including
Ongaku and Thesis (Symphony No. 15); performed by Louisville
Orchestra, Robert S. Whitney and Jorge Mester—conductors
Henry Cowell: A Continuum Portrait, Vol. 1 (Naxos 8.559192) and Vol. 2
(Naxos 8.559193)—solo, chamber, vocal, and large-ensemble pieces;
performed by Continuum, Cheryl Seltzer and Joel Sachs—directors
Henry Cowell: Mosaic (mode 72/73)—solo and chamber pieces, including
Quartet Romantic, Quartet Euphometric, Mosaic Quartet (String Quartet
No. 3), Return, and three versions of 26 Simultaneous Mosaics;
performed by Colorado String Quartet and Musicians Accord
Henry Cowell: Persian Set (Composers Recordings Inc. CRI-114 recorded
April 1957 and reissued on Citadel CTD 88123)—Four movements for
Chamber Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski—conductor
Henry Cowell: Persian Set (Koch 3-7220-2 HI)—orchestral and
large-ensemble pieces, including Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 2;
performed by Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Richard Auldon
New Music: Piano Compositions by
Henry Cowell (New Albion 103)—solo
piano pieces, including Dynamic Motion, The Tides of Manaunaun,
Aeolian Harp, and Tiger; performed by Chris Brown, Sorrel Hays, and
Henry Cowell (Albany–Troy 240)—including How Old Is
Song?, Music I Heard, and Firelight and Lamp; performed by Mary Ann
Hart—mezzo-soprano, Robert Osborne—bass-baritone, Jeanne
Henry Cowell papers, 1851-1994, held by the Music Division, New York
Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Henry Cowell collection of Noncommercial Recordings, 1940-1953, held
by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound, New York
Public Library for the Performing Arts.
Henry Cowell collection at Library of Congress
Henry Cowell list of works (the most comprehensive on
the Web, though incomplete—the standard Lichtenwanger catalogue
lists almost 1,000 compositions; be aware also that some dates,
particularly of the early piano pieces, are incorrect) and
transcriptions of Schoenberg–Cowell correspondence
Drums Along the Pacific more on the association between Cowell and
Harrison (and Cage)
"Henry Cowell: Giving Us Permission" 2006 essay by composer Peter
Henry Cowell—Piano Music independent website dedicated to the piano
music of Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell Work List instrumentation of eighty works per music
publisher G. Schirmer
"New Growth from New Soil" 2004–5 master's thesis on Cowell with
extensive bibliography, including his periodical writings
Opaque Melodies: The Rhythmicon—Definition/Background clearest
extended discussion of the Rhythmicon
"Sidney and Henry Cowell" essay by Peter Stone for the Association for
Henry Cowell as Theorist and Critic" a
consideration by critic Kyle Gann of Cowell's influence
What's This (First Encore to Dynamic Motion) for piano score from
Sibley Music Library Digital Scores Collection
Free scores by
Henry Cowell at the International Music Score Library
The Aeolian Harp Piece by
Henry Cowell on
YouTube video of performance
by Lydia Aoki
American Mavericks: The Online
Rhythmicon a virtual version of the
instrument, playable on computer
American Mavericks: Program 1—The Meaning of Maverick three works by
Cowell on demand, including Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, plus the
program itself, including discussion of Cowell and excerpts of his
Art of the States:
Henry Cowell seven works by the composer, including
The Tides of Manaunaun
The Tides of Manaunaun and Aeolian Harp
Henry Cowell featuring tracks from New Music: Piano
Henry Cowell (New Albion 103)
Henry Cowell: Hymn and Fuguing Tune #2 on
YouTube video of performance
by community orchestra
Henry Cowell Musical Autobiography 100 minutes of Cowell talking about
his life and playing recordings of his music
Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) broadcast in two
Henry Cowell radio documentary, directed by Guy
SFCCO Performs Cowell's Symphony No. 13 on
YouTube video of
performance of the first two movements by San Francisco Composers
SFCCO Performs Cowell's Symphony No. 13 full audio of performance by
San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra
ConcertZender Radio (The Netherlands) Broadcast and podcast on Henry
Cowell's symphonies, hosted by Guy Livingston.
Photos and references Audio clips and notes related to the ABC
documentary, including a photo essay curated by George Boziwick, at
the Music Division of the New York Public Library of the Performing
John J. Becker
Hans Werner Henze
John J. Becker
Ruth Crawford Seeger
Mozart Camargo Guarnieri
Modes of limited transposition
Quartal and quintal harmony
See also: Modernist composers
Laurel Leaf Award
WGBH (FM) (1951)
Anahid Ajemian (1952)
Herman Neuman (1953)
Green Bay Symphonietta (1954)
George Szell (1955)
Robert Whitney (1956)
Howard Hanson /
Juilliard String Quartet
Juilliard String Quartet (1957)
Thor Johnson (1958)
Martha Graham /
Jack Benny (1959)
Howard Mitchell /
Oliver Daniel (1960)
Helen Thompson / William Strickland (1961)
Bethany Beardslee / Hugh Ross / Samuel Rosenbaum (1962)
Carl Haverlin / Claire Reis (1963)
Walter Hinrichsen / Margaret L. Crofts /
Max Pollikoff (1964)
Henry Cowell /
Avery Claflin / Elizabeth Ames (1965)
Henry A. Moe / Lawrence Morton (1966)
WBAI / Fromm Foundation (1967)
Aaron Copland (1968)
Group for Contemporary Music (1969)
Otto Luening / Harris Danziger / Third Street Music Settlement School
Alice M. Ditson Fund (1971)
Leopold Stokowski (1972)
MacDowell Colony (1973)
Teresa Sterne (1974)
Nelson Rockefeller (1975)
Gunther Schuller (1976)
Arthur Weisberg (1977)
James Dixon (1978)
Ralph Shapey (1979)
John Duffy / Meet the
Composer / Joseph Machlis (1980)
Carter Harman (1981)
Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music (1982)
Lukas Foss (1983)
Opus One /
Max Schubel / Ernest S. Heller (1984)
Nicolas Slonimsky (1985)
Raymond Des Roches (1986)
Francis Thorne (1987)
American Music Center (1988)
Betty Allen /
The Harlem School of the Arts
The Harlem School of the Arts / Mimi Stern-Wolfe (1989)
Center for New Music (1990)
Boston Musica Viva (1991)
Cleveland Chamber Symphony
Cleveland Chamber Symphony (1992)
Leonard Slatkin (1993)
Society for New Music (1994)
Minnesota Composers Forum (1995)
Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group
Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group (1996)
Speculum Musicae (1997)
David Alan Miller (1998)
Lou Rodgers (1999)
Gregg Smith Singers (2003)
Fred Sherry (2007)
Harold Rosenbaum (2008)
Phyllis Bryn-Julson (2009)
innova Recordings (2012)
ISNI: 0000 0000 8084 7033
BNF: cb13892809m (data)