New Music for the Piano
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR874     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Robert Helps, piano


Robert Helps recorded this collection in 1966 (during, he remembers, a transit strike that had New York City walking if not staggering).

The music came from a published anthology of the same name, an American collection compiled under the auspices of the Abby Whiteside Foundation by Joseph Prostakoff, a student of the late Abby Whiteside. "They knew practically every composer in the country," Helps remembers, "and asked many of them for pieces for the collection. Some said they were too busy, but all of them at least sent their good wishes."

Think of the state of music in America—in New York in particular— in 1966. Lincoln Center was brand new, and with it the concept of a centralized performing arts center in every major city, not merely as concert halls and opera houses but also as a creative force governing (and even funding) the works of new composers and the emergence of new performers. For better or for worse, government was getting into the act, through the creation of the National Endowment. Music had its stars —Beverly Sills, Leonard Bernstein, Glenn Gould— and it also had its new languages. Electronic music, exotic scales and instruments from Asia and Africa, multi-media "happenings" that involved the interaction of sight and sound, abstract expressionism and chance music —these all combined to project the notion that everything we'’d heard in music up until then was merely the base of the mountain.

From the evidence of this collection, however, even the "base of the mountain" was a lively place. Take this hour long sampling of the work of twenty-one greatly eminent Americans, music whose dates range from 1946 (George Perle'’s Six Preludes) to 1964 (Josef Alexander'’s Incantation) as a document of an era, a time of ending and beginning. (For an update, there is CRI'’s recent release Solo Flights, another American piano anthology that brings us up to 1997.) The variety is remarkable; there was not then, and there is not now, any single definition of "American music" that covered the territory. The metaphor of the "melting pot," which authors had used for decades to describe the "new Americans" drawn to this country since it was new from a worldwide diversity of origins, applies to its music as well.


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Robert Helps

New Music for the Piano

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

Fanfares
Ingolf Dahl
Buy
Two Preludes
Kent Kennan
Buy
Capriccio
Samuel Adler
Buy
Polarities No. 1
Hall Overton
Buy
Partitions
Milton Babbitt
Buy
Piano Suite No. 3
Miriam Gideon
Buy
Syncopations
Sol Berkowitz
Buy
Humoreske Op. 49
Ben Weber
Buy
Nocturnal Interlude
Paul A. Pisk
Buy
Etude
Mel Powell
Buy
Rag-Blues-Rag
Morton Gould
Buy
Allegro on a Pakistan Lute Tune, Op. 104, No. 6
Alan Hovhaness
Buy
Six Preludes, Op. 20B
George Perle
Buy
Sonata, Op. 53, No. 3
Norman Cazden
Buy
Two Bagatelles
Joseph Prostakoff
Buy
Prelude for a Pensive Pupil
Peggy Glanville-Hicks
Buy
Pig Town Fling
Ernst Bacon
Buy
Image
Robert Helps
Buy
Six Bagatelles
Mark Brunswick
Buy
Two Bagatelles -
Earl Kim
Buy
Incantation
Josef Alexander
Buy