Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Piano Addict: Suites for the 4th by R. Nathaniel Dett, William Grant Still & Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Playing With Wolfgang: Suites for the 4th!

I count myself very lucky that my undergrad teacher passed his love of 20th Century American music down to me. He himself had studied with Johana Harris at Colorado Springs and always maintained that the summers, when premier mid-century American composers would come to work, play, teach, and commune with each other, were the best part of his time there. He would have been heartbroken to see the devastation there now. I know everyone’s heart goes out to all of you affected by the forest fires.

Under his tutelage, I discovered the Dello Joio Suite for Piano. I had never played any purely American music before, except for musical theater scores in high school, but I found that the sounds and emotions were in my blood- literally of the sound of my growing up. Nearly 20 years later, I connected in the same way with Copland’s Four Piano Blues.

So, In honor of Independence Day, I offer you some suites and small sets of pieces by American composers (in no particular order). Over the years, I have had judges remark that they were unfamiliar with but intrigued by several of these works. Once, a concert artist from Eastern Europe was so fascinated by the Dello Joio Suite that he gave my student nearly an hour masterclass as they discovered it together. She was thrilled when he told her, “This is going into my repertoire!”
Enjoy and Happy 4th Everyone!


Norman Dello Joio

R. Nathaniel Dett [Canadian]

William Grant Still
7 Traceries
[Mark Boozer, Piano; Naxos]

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor [British]
[Naoko Maeda, Piano]

[R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943), William Grant Still (1895-1978) and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List for each by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,]

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