American Composers

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

As part of WNYC’s American Music Festival, a special edition of “Mad About Music” with host Gilbert Kaplan explores the popularity of American composers by revisiting appearances of 11 of its 55 guests who chose an American work to be played on the show – including Tom Brokaw, Alan Alda, Renee Fleming and Condoleezza Rice.

Sometimes the music selected reflected a childhood encounter (Alan Alda as a seven year old hearing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue) or a surprise meeting with a composer (the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham meeting George Gershwin as a teenager and hearing him play “Summertime” on the piano). Or a work selected as a tribute to a composer who was a close friend (banker James Wolfensohn and Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture). And one guest’s selection was for its musical depiction of America (NBC’s Tom Brokaw and Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man).

Selections and Guests

Samuel Barber Vanessa, Op. 32. [Leonard Slatkin]
Leonard Bernstein Candide Overture. [James Wolfensohn]
William Bolcom Songs of Innocence and of Experience. [Leonard Slatkin]
Elliott Carter Eight Etudes and a Fantasy. [Joseph Polisi]
Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring. [William McDonough]
Fanfare for the Common Man. [Tom Brokaw]
George Crumb Ancient Voices of Children. [Renee Fleming]
George Gershwin Porgy and Bess. [Katharine Graham]
Rhapsody in Blue. [Alan Alda]
Philip Glass Einstein on the Beach. [Richard Meier]
Ned Rorem "Look Down Fair Moon.” [Thomas Hampson]


Aaron Copland Fanfare for the Common Man. London Symphony Orchestra. Aaron Copland. Sony Classical 90403.

Leonard Bernstein Candide. Overture. New York Philharmonic. Leonard Bernstein. Sony Classical SMK 63085.

George Gershwin Porgy and Bess. “Summertime.” Masterworks Heritage Opera Series (1951 Studio Recording). Lehman Engel. June McMechen, soprano. SONY Classical MH2K 63322.

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue [excerpt]. Philadelphia Orchestra. Eugene Ormandy. Oscar Levant, piano. CBS MK 42514.

Elliott Carter Eight Etudes and a Fantasy. “II. Quietly” and “VII. Intensely.” Michael Faust, flute; Christian Hommel, oboe; David Smeyers, clarinet; Dag Jensen, bassoon. CPO 999 453.

William Bolcom Songs of Innocence and of Experience. “A Divine Image” [excerpt]. University of Michigan School of Music Symphony Orchestra and University Musical Society. Leonard Slatkin. Naxos 8559216-18.

Samuel Barber Vanessa, Op. 32. “Must Winter Come So Soon.” BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers. Leonard Slatkin. Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano. Chandos 5032.

Philip Glass Einstein on the Beach. “Building” [excerpt]. The Philip Glass Ensemble. Nonesuch 79323.

George Crumb Ancient Voices of Children. “Todas las tardes en Granada, todas las tardes se muere un niño” [excerpt]. Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. Arthur Weisberg. Jan DeGaetani, mezzo; Michael Dash, boy soprano. Nonesuch 79149.

Ned Rorem “Look Down Fair Moon”. Thomas Hampson, baritone; Craig Rutenberg, piano. Angel Records 55028.

Aaron Copland Appalachian Spring (original version) [excerpt]. Aaron Copland. CBS Masterworks MK 42431.


Alan Alda, Tom Brokaw, Renée Fleming and Condoleezza Rice
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