Romantic Music of Edward Joseph Collins
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR644     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Earl Wild, piano; Manhattan String Quartet: (Ray Lewis, violin; Eric Lewis, violin; John Dexter, viola; Judith Glyde, cello)


Born in Joliet, Illinois on November 10, 1889, Edward Joseph Collins came from a large and musical Irish-American family. Both of his parents were musicians, and four sisters and one brother took up music professionally. At age fourteen, after preliminary piano instruction in his hometown, Collins began studies at the Chicago Musical College with the distinguished Swiss pianist, composer and conductor Rudolph Ganz (1887-1972), to whom Maurice Ravel dedicated his virtuoso piano piece Scarbo. In Chicago, Collins additionally studied composition with Felix Borowski and Adolf Weidig. Subsequently, he spent several years in Berlin, where at the Königliche Hochschule he continued his work with Ganz and had composition lessons from Max Bruch and Engelbert Humperdinck. Collins made his pianistic debut in 1912 in Berlin, performing the Schumann Fantasy and the Brahms Handel Variations, and one critic wrote, “he played in such a spirit of natural romanticism and with such youthful exuberance that it was a joy to follow him.” After returning to the United States that same year, he toured as piano soloist on a double-bill with the world famous soprano Ernestine Schumann-Heink. During 1912-13, Collins was assistant conductor of New York City's Century Opera Company, and later (1913-14) an assistant conductor at Germany's Bayreuth Festival...

Similar to Mrs. Beach and the even better known American composer-pianist Edward MacDowell, Collins wrote conservative, Europe-derived music, although, like his contemporary Charles Tomlinson Griffes (and, for that matter, his teacher Ganz), his work has French Impressionist overtones. Patrician in intent, Collins' large-scale pieces utilize traditional forms. Although his rhetoric might be termed conventionally romantic, it is emotionally cool, avoiding vulgarity with a near Mendelssohnian restraint (the Variations on an Irish Tune for piano and the Second Piano Concerto provide clear examples of the aesthetic). Long-lined melody tends to be at a premium, for Collins was essentially a short breathed composer to whom variation form had a natural appeal.

A thorough professional, Collins absorbed all of the turn-of -the-century chromatic language (Scriabin, Debussy, Reger) but he himself made no re-examination of tonality. His orchestrating (in, for instance, the Tragic Overture, and Second Piano Concerto) is solid and sonorous, if not especially coloristic. He did however have an occasional, rather striking, predilection for eccentric rhythm: for example, the unusual additive meter 3 ½ /4 in the Allegro piacevole for String Quartet and the finale of the Second Concerto, and 4 ½ /4 in the opening section of the Tragic Overture; also worth noting are the alternating bars of ¾ and 5/8 time in the Allegro piacevole and 7/8 and 5/8 in the second movement of the Third Piano Concerto.

Even though Collins' pervasive eclecticism assured that his music could be of no influence historically, those of his large-scale scores that it was possible to examine prove so well executed as to fit agreeably into the latter-day romantic tradition of such figures as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Sibelius and Samuel Barber - no small achievement, surely. Collins, who seems to have written less and less as he grew older, and very little in his last decade, intrigues as an ambitious composer of works in all genres who was not able fully to realize is considerable potential.



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).

Earl Wild

Romantic Music of Edward Joseph Collins

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

Track Listing

Variations on an Irish Tune
Edward Joseph Collins
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Cowboy's Breakdown
Edward Joseph Collins
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Tango
Edward Joseph Collins
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Passacaglia
Edward Joseph Collins
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All God's Chillun' Got Wings
Edward Joseph Collins
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Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?
Edward Joseph Collins
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Lil' David Play on Yo' Harp
Edward Joseph Collins
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Gospel Train
Edward Joseph Collins
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Valse Pensive, Opus 18, No. 5
Edward Joseph Collins
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Valse Eccentrique
Edward Joseph Collins
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Valse Romantique, Opus 18, No. 3
Edward Joseph Collins
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Valse Limpide, Opus 18, No. 4
Edward Joseph Collins
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Valse Heroique, Opus 18, No. 1
Edward Joseph Collins
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Allegro Piacevole
Edward Joseph Collins
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