Works by Schuman, Copland, Sessions
Liner Notes   Cat. No. 80368     Release Date: 1988-01-01

Juilliard Orchestra, Otto-Werner Mueller, Sixten Ehrling, Paul Zukofsky

Is there a New York School in American music?

In painting, the term "New York School" refers to the work of abstract expressionists and action painters, from de Kooning to Pollock. There are musical parallels in the work of New York atonal expressionists, from Wolpe to Wuorinen.

But there is another group of New Yorkers, a generation of composers born in Gotham near the turn of the century, or shortly thereafter. These composers came to prominence in the twenties and thirties. After Charles Ives (who lived and worked in New York), they were the first to establish recognizable American musical identities.

It is extraordinary how many important composers of this generation were from the big city. They were as diverse as George Gershwin and Elliott Carter—and as Roger Sessions, Aaron Copland, and William Schuman.

It is, in fact, an overstatement to try to claim "school" status for such an individualistic group of composers; but there are common threads. Just as American writers of this generation were obsessed with the notion of writing The Great American Novel, so American composers of this time were looking for a genuinely American symphonic style.

The works on this record are "occasional pieces," commissioned and composed for specific purposes, yet all three have a symphonic scope. Roger Sessions' music for a Russian play, The Black Maskers, is theater music amplified to the dimensions of a four-movement symphony. Aaron Copland is not usually thought of as a symphonic modernist, but his Connotations, one of the latest and most difficult of his works, is a symphonic movement in a dissonant, twelve-tone idiom. William Schuman's In Praise of Shahn, a tribute to the late Ben Shahn, is a spacious, highly developed work in the composer's symphonic manner.

Juilliard Orchestra

Works by Schuman, Copland, Sessions

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Track Listing

In Praise of Shahn
William Schuman
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Connotations
Aaron Copland
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Suite from The Black Maskers: I. Dance
Roger Sessions
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Suite from The Black Maskers: II. Scene
Roger Sessions
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Suite from The Black Maskers: III. Dirge
Roger Sessions
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Suite from The Black Maskers: IV. Finale
Roger Sessions
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