Miwako Abe: Works For Violin by Antheil, Beyer, Cowell, Dodge, Crawford, Mahler, Polansky, and Wolpe


“Nature Is the Best Dictator”—Twentieth-Century American Violin Music

“Were I to Pretend to Lay Down Rules”

Henry Cowell (1897–1965), in the introduction to the first edition of his prophetic “symposium” titled American Composers on American Music (1933), described features of contemporary American music and outlined categories of composers. The first group he introduced—“Americans who have developed indigenous materials or are specially interested in expressing some phase of the American spirit in their works”—might be taken as a historical framework for the composers represented on this recording.[1] The tradition that Cowell saw emerging from the music of Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Charles Seeger, and others supported the work of a handful of iconic names—Cowell himself, also George Antheil, Stefan Wolpe, and Ruth Crawford. Their place in that tradition lies at the heart of this recording by Miwako Abe (violin) and Michael Kieran Harvey (piano). What links these composers to their friends, peers, and colleagues who join them here—Johanna Magdalena Beyer, Charles Dodge, David Mahler, and Larry Polansky—is their collective commitment to developing an artistic environment in which individual voices in American music could support one another, could find means of distribution, and, most important, could be heard. This program traces music written for violin by progenitors of this independent strain in American music from the early-twentieth-century composers Seeger, Beyer, Antheil, Cowell, and Wolpe to a “younger” generation of composers (born in the 1940s and 1950s) Dodge, Mahler, and Polansky—with a selection of works spanning over seventy years (the earliest, Antheil’s Sonata, was composed in 1923; the latest, Dodge’s Etudes, were composed in 1994).

This particular grouping of composers is significant from a social-network point of view because of the common ground and multiple connections between them: Two earned reputations during the early century as radical innovators (Antheil and Cowell); several worked together during crucial periods in the composers’ lives (Cowell and Beyer); several became close personal friends (Mahler and Polansky); two were German immigrants who entered the New York modernist scene during the 1930s (Beyer and Wolpe); several took matters of publishing and distribution into their own hands (Cowell’s New Music Society, Polansky’s Frog Peak Music); a few shared common compositional tools such as “dissonant counterpoint” (Cowell, Crawford, Beyer); others have been academic colleagues (Dodge and Polansky); one became a promoter of his peers (Cowell, through his New Music Society); another championed his neglected foremothers (Polansky’s publication of Beyer and Crawford); and finally, fittingly, the youngest in the group has recently been honored with the American Music Center’s Henry Cowell Award (Polansky, in 2005), an award intended to celebrate an artist who carries forth Cowell’s “spirit of innovation and experimentalism in their work.”

Although they are connected in these and many other ways through their attitudes about “American music” and the circumstances of their professional lives, one could not claim that their music sounds alike, that it shares a common sonic vocabulary, that it strives toward the same artistic goals, nor that it belongs to a particular school of composition that perpetuates a certain sound ideal. There is nothing comparable here among the so-called experimentalists to the stylistic consistencies of the atonal, expressionist Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg, Webern), nor the transparent, clear structures of the neoclassical Paris-Boston-Tanglewood axis (Stravinsky, Copland, Piston, etc.). On the contrary, the American experimental tradition, as it grew like a creeping vine among more institutionally prominent mid-century styles, depended on an expectation of creative individuality and on the value of uninhibited invention. Many of the composers featured here might have endorsed this confident statement of William Billings (1746–1800), printed in the introduction to his The New England Psalm Singer (Boston, 1770):


Perhaps it may be expected by some, that I should say something concerning Rules for Composition; to these I answer that Nature is the best Dictator, for all the hard dry studied Rules that ever was prescribed, will not enable any Person to form an Air any more than the bare Knowledge of the four and twenty Letters, and strict Grammatical Rules will qualify a Scholar for composing a Piece of Poetry, or properly adjusting a Tragedy, without a Genius. [. . .] For my own Part, as I don’t think myself confin’d to any Rules for Composition laid down by any that went before me, neither should I think (were I to pretend to lay down Rules) that any who came after me were any ways obligated to adhere to them.


Following Billings’s lead, independent American composers’ instinct to create their own rules enjoys a long and rich history.

“Violin, the King of Instruments” and “The Heroes of the Bow”

“The Beethoven of Kentucky,” Anthony Philip Heinrich (1781–1861), a German-Bohemian-born composer (and chairman of the first organizational meeting of the New York Philharmonic Society in 1842), is a nineteenth-century link in the chain from Billings to the twentieth-century composers who created their own rules. In the preface to his The Western Minstrel (Philadelphia, 1820), Heinrich expressed concerns about patronage, publication, and financial matters for living American composers, concerns that Henry Cowell might have voiced in a similar manner one hundred years later:


Notwithstanding his most strenuous exertions, A.P. Heinrich, very sensibly, experiences that the Profession to which he is most enthusiastically attached, and to which all his energies have been devoted, will not, for want of more general patronage and support, afford him even a bare subsistence, but, while bowing to the public ordeal, he cannot avoid, on the present occasion, cherishing the expectation of that support to which he is entitled, in order to fulfill the numerous obligations incurred in this experimental publication.


While this is not the place to review the history of American composers’ difficulties in getting their works published, nor the place to analyze America’s love affair with the fiddle—“the King of Instruments”—, we might consider an autodidactic, iconoclastic figure like Heinrich as the beginning of an experimental approach to the instrument, a liberated way of thinking about its “folk” and “classical” implications.[2] As “this country’s first and unquestionably most enthusiastic Romantic nationalist in music” (in the words of American music historian H. Wiley Hitchcock), Heinrich paved the way for later generations of composers paving their own way.[3] In the preface to his work titled Tema di Mozart and an Original Air (included in his first collection of compositions, The Dawning of Music in Kentucky), Heinrich honored “the Heroes of the Bow” with twelve virtuosic, perpetual-motion variations for violin on a theme by Mozart followed by twenty variations on an original theme by Heinrich himself. We might also identify an early instance of indeterminacy in his endearing work The Yankee Doodleiad (A National Divertimento). The composer wrote into the violin parts:


Whether the following modifications (pizzicato, con sordini, &c. &c.) are calculated either in whole or in part, to produce an agreeable contrast, the Author could not practically ascertain; it is therefore left to the judgment of the Performers.


Such courage in trusting musicians, this relinquishing of the composer’s authoritative control, has come to be a central characteristic of much of twentieth-century American experimental music. Indeterminacy aside, developments in twentieth-century performance practice saw an abundance of creative approaches to and novel resources for violin playing—including exploration of bowing technique, unconventional fingerings, use of harmonics and percussive effects, alternative tuning systems, amplification, and methods for collaborating with computers—as are extensively catalogued by Patricia Strange and Allen Strange in their useful and fascinating book The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques (2001). Several of the extended techniques they describe can be heard in the varied repertoire Miwako Abe presents here.

“How Not To Take That Trip!”: New American Violin Music

Henry Cowell’s Sonata for Violin and Piano (1945-46)seems more like a suite than a sonata, given its neat division into five contrasting parts (“Hymn,” “In Fuguing Style,” “Ballad,” “Jig,” and “Finale”). By and large a tame, tonal, melodic work, the piece is the most traditional on this recording, and it also reveals a stylistic step backwards (toward clear textures and simple lines) that this once-radical composer undertook after his incarceration in San Quentin Prison (1936–40), where Cowell served time on a morals charge involving sexual activity with underage boys, and following his marriage to folk music collector Sidney Robertson (1941). The piece is related to his large, well-known work Hymn and Fuging Tunes; the violin sonata’s first movement “Hymn,” with its broad, smooth and lyrical lines, was born out of a birthday present for his wife titled Hymn [of] Hymn and Fuguing Sonata or Suite.[4] “In Fuguing Style” introduces a game of imitation between the violin and the piano based on the accented triplet gesture heard at the beginning of this movement. The opening of the third movement, “Ballad,” is unabashedly Romantic, providing a space for Cowell’s anti-modernist sensibility to flourish. The quick and extroverted “Jig,” with its bouncy triple feel, rapid arpeggios, and double-stops, might remind listeners of the violin’s role in accompanying American vernacular dance. The “Finale” is rhythmically more aggressive, also harmonically quirky at times, and functions like a rondo. The return of the main melodic theme from the “Hymn” is hard to miss, and its return gives the piece a sense of closure. Near the end of this movement Cowell unexpectedly makes use of the inside-the-piano techniques he frequently used earlier in his career (finger-muted piano strings blend exceptionally well with the violin’s pizzicato). As an atmospheric coda, this has a surprising effect on the sonic vocabulary of the piece, and brings the listener briefly back to Cowell’s pioneering phase during which he shocked audiences with his “string piano” techniques. But not for long. The piece ends in the polite parlor of American Romanticism.


Berlin-born Stefan Wolpe (1902–72) fled Europe for Jerusalem in May 1934. In December 1938 he left Palestine for New York, where he would spend the rest of his life. He became a United States citizen in 1945. Around that time he began teaching composition lessons to Morton Feldman and David Tudor, and became a central figure in the New York School and the Black Mountain College scene. In 1963 Wolpe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He continued composing during the following four years; after that his output dropped off significantly. In 1964 he composed his Piece in Two Parts for Violin Alone. In 1966, the year he composed the Second Piece for Violin Alone(the work included on this CD), he was awarded the Creative Arts Award of Brandeis University and became a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. His composition Second Piece for Violin Alone is a fantasia-like meter-less miniature (only 62 bars long) that contrasts free sections of chromatic repeating material with strongly pulsed sections. In a colorful program note Wolpe described the significance of the obsessive opening repetition of a three-note phrase while emphasizing the lyrically metaphorical landscape of his adopted home:


Three notes found in the major scale—G, A, B—and played simply on the lowest string. Classical music, folk music, how many pieces start that way! How many pieces start that way, and then take you on a musical journey, like a symphony down the great Mississippi River from one state to another, from one region to another—levels, motion, developments—how many! And then, again afterwards, how not to do it! How not to take that trip! Suppose you have a steady state in which you can elect to remain, but a state the parts of which can be rearranged endlessly, kaleidoscopically. Now let’s start again! Take these three notes G, A, B, play them five times and then stop. And then . . .[5]


The work indeed begins with the notes G, A, and B repeated quickly five times. It concludes with a slow, lyrical section with a triple feel. The final bars present the same whimsical melody three times in a row.


In 1933 Cowell wrote: “George Antheil [1900–59] occupies a unique position among American composers since he has the reputation of being the most radical.”[6] Antheil, the self-proclaimed “bad boy of music” (the title of his lively autobiography), who spent many years in Europe (roughly 1922–36) before settling in Hollywood and making a career as a writer of film scores, became most famous for his raucous and bombastic Ballet mécanique (premiered in Paris in 1926, complete with a Rite of Spring-like scandal, and in New York, in 1927). Dedicated to Ezra Pound (“best of friends” is written in the score), Antheil’s tongue-in-cheek one-movement Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1923)is more a showcase for the pianist than the violinist. Clearly inspired by Stravinsky, Bartòk, and Ives, the piece features flashy glissandi, recurring ragtime riffs, quotation, polytonality, and sections where the piano drowns out the violin almost entirely. Expressive markings draw attention to the emphatic humor and expressivity of the piece: strutting, sadder, a little “off”, hurried but sweet, sour, and church organ-like. At the end of the work the pianist plays a rapid solo section using fist clusters, then accompanies the violin’s final melody with tenor and bass drums (probably the first time a pianist was asked to play percussion in a piece of chamber music). The effect is surprisingly gentle, like an unexpected afterthought to various strains of early-century primitivism. Antheil’s extroverted, extravagant Sonata, which was included in the second half of the New York concert that featured the American premiere of Ballet mécanique, offers a parody-pastiche of early-twentieth-century styles exploited by modernist composers on both sides of the Atlantic.


According to Judith Tick, Leipzig-born Johanna Magdalena Beyer (1888–1944), who became a student and friend of Henry Cowell’s after moving to New York in 1924, took lessons in dissonant counterpoint from Ruth Crawford during the mid-1930s shortly before composing her Suite for Violin and Piano (1937).[7] Dissonant counterpoint, a compositional approach invented by composer Charles Seeger and expanded upon by Cowell, reversed the usual rules for the treatment of consonant and dissonant intervals, and avoided repetition and continuity in rhythms through irregular divisions of the beat and polyrhythmic layering. Beyer’s brooding three-movement Suite, one of several solo or duo suites and sonatas she composed during the 1930s, works like a study in three-against-four. In the first movement the violin plays mostly in patterns of four while the piano plays three repeated single notes or octaves in the left hand. In the second movement this relationship is reversed; the violin plays mostly in three throughout while the piano maintains the pulse in four. A solo violin cadenza featuring double- and triple-stops closes this brief middle movement. The third movement also begins with a violin cadenza before the piano enters with material from the opening of the piece. Here the low triplet octaves of the piano return like the memory of a dream, a relentlessly plodding motive reminiscent of increasingly insistent knocks on a closed door. Principles of dissonant counterpoint are evident throughout this short, tightly organized work, and it is similar in its dark, ominous tone to Beyer’s Movement for Two Pianos(1931), a piece dedicated to her friend and mentor Cowell, who would first present her work at a New Music Society of California concert in San Francisco in February 1934.[8] The Suite for Violin and Piano was performed at a WPA Federal Music Project “Composers’ Forum Laboratory” concert in May 1937 with the composer at the piano; the New York Herald-Tribune described this and other Beyer works on the program as “experimental in form and modernistic in harmony.”[9]


Since the mid-1960s Charles Dodge (born 1942) has composed computer music. The only pieces represented here that make use of electronic technology, Dodge’s II and IV from Four Etudes for Violin and Tape (1994)allow the violinist a chance to interact with pre-recorded computer-produced sounds. As a graduate of Columbia University, a teacher at Princeton University and Dartmouth College, and a researcher at the Bell Labs, Dodge might seem like an unlikely candidate as an “experimentalist.” Yet his Etudes reveal an uninhibited use of traditional musical materials (tonal centers, scales, triads, arpeggios, diatonic themes, virtuosic violin gestures, etc.) while exploring the beauty of his electronic soundscapes and their interaction with the tone color and range of the violin. Etude IV, making frequent use of harmonics in the violin’s upper register, consists mostly of ascending and descending arpeggios that, by adding notes gradually, eventually turn into rapid chromatic scales, as if the sliding glissando presented on tape at the beginning of the work is gradually absorbed and taken over by the violin. It ends with the violin alone in G major. Etude II is fast, with flourishes of repeated figures. The piece is written in a standard da capo form, returning to its opening material at the end. The electronic sounds on tape might be thought of as “a kind of electronic halo” for the violin, as Dodge himself once described his processing of Enrico Caruso’s voice in his earlier composition titled Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental (1978).[10]


David Mahler (born 1944)composed Maxfield’s Reel for unaccompanied violin (1983) for Jeff Cox, then a violinist on the faculty of Central Washington University where Mahler taught. Mahler, seen today as a central figure (though slightly older) of a group of West Coast musicians, studied for his MFA at the then new and unique California Institute of the Arts in the early 1970s with several like-minded individuals, the first generation studying composition and world music there (including Michael Byron, Jody Diamond, Peter Garland, William Winant, and others). In its structural focus on freely repeated melodic fragments Mahler’s piece is in some ways reminiscent of Terry Riley’s In C (1964), a seminal work of early minimalism. Mahler’s piece also recalls Philip Glass’s early solo piano composition How Now (1965), which uses repeated fragments whose phrase lengths gradually expand. In the instructions for his piece, however, Mahler deflects our attention away from historical milestones of pulsed minimalism toward another historically important figure, and Mahler’s inspiration for the work: Richard Maxfield (1927–69), a pioneer and teacher of electronic music who lectured at The New School for Social Research in New York from 1959 to 1961. Mahler writes:


The audio tape compositions of Richard Maxfield with which I am familiar date from 1959 to 1966. While the work of many other tape composers of the same period is now of historical interest only, Maxfield’s compositions are still exciting pieces of music—fresh and instructive today as they must have sounded in the early 1960s. Maxfield’s Reel is written in admiration of the piece’s namesake, and uses tape splicing and looping techniques applied to real-time violin playing. The reel of the title, of course, refers to both the high-spirited dance music known for its repetitious nature, and to the tape reel, the medium of Maxfield’s wizardry.


Mahler himself is an accomplished composer of tape music. On this recording violinist Abe helps the listener to hear when new motivic “splices” are introduced, material that will then go through any number of slight transformations, by clearly establishing a character for each new section of music. A lyrical coda at the end uses the figures freely, mixing them up but without the indeterminate repeats.

Another homage follows, this time to a man who inspired a vast majority of American composition in the second half of the twentieth century: John Cage (1912–1992). But upon hearing this particular work one might ask: What possessed the twenty-one-year-old University of California, Santa Cruz math and music student Larry Polansky(born 1954) to write a piece like Movement in E Major for John Cage (1975)? Had he secretly been studying the (back then) totally unknown works of Johanna Beyer and her interest in polyrhythmic layering? Did he learn about Ruth Crawford’s use of dissonant counterpoint from his mentors Gordon Mumma and James Tenney? What was going on in the mind of Polansky, who went on to embrace the music of both Crawford and Beyer, and eventually to publish much of their largely unavailable works? And why the dedication to John Cage? Were the musical ideas of the “ultra-modernists” Cowell, Beyer, and Crawford absorbed by Polansky through his study of Cage’s early, pre-chance works? In program notes for the piece Polansky has written that it was composed in reverence to Cage’s Nocturne for violin and piano (1947), a key piece from a period of Cage’s career that had a powerful effect on Polansky’s musical thinking at the time, in particular Cage’s “use of tonality, extension of time, extraordinary rhythmic sensibility and elegance of form.”[11] Polansky saw his Movement as part of two sets of instrumental works that explored equal-tempered tonality, just intonation, and ways of avoiding (or challenging) expectations about functional harmony. Despite the complexity of the score, Polansky insists that “in these works, my intent has been to try to achieve a certain unity, simplicity, and directness of musical idea.” The Movement for E Major for John Cage foreshadows many of this composer’s ongoing interests: rhythmic complexity, understated virtuosity, quirky hybrids of older forms, extensive use of harmonics, an improvisatory sound despite the rigor of the score, pregnant silence, and tongue-in-cheek humor. Plucking inside the piano serves as a nod to Cowell. E-major triads are to be found scattered like seeds throughout the piece, but one doesn’t hear them as such given the rich harmonic beds in which they are planted. Only at the end, after a “brutally” furious explosion of sound, and following a ridiculously brief three-voice “fugue” (only seven-beats long!), do we hear resolution, a tonal resting place (though “almost imperceptibly”)—until the violin, in her final moment, slides from the tonic pitch E to the neighboring (non-scale degree) F-natural.


Following Polansky’s homage to Cage’s Nocturne this disk concludes with another night piece. Ruth Crawford (1901–1953) wrote her student work Nocturne (1923) in Chicago while studying composition with Adolf Weidig. Although at the time experimentation in American circles was fairly widespread, or at least tolerated, Crawford’s Nocturne is mostly conventional, not overtly chromatic or polyrhythmic; it returns the listener to the pleasant parlor of Cowell’s Sonata that opens this recording. Crawford’s Nocturne functions here as a nice close, a calm afterthought, not exceedingly difficult, mostly tonal, and strongly rhythmic (though un-metered). This little-known work has recently been published by Frog Peak Music in a critical edition by Australian pianist Kim Bastin. Miwako Abe is the first violinist to record this early composition by an important and influential American composer.

Amy C. Beal

Amy C. Beal is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has recently completed a book on the history of American experimental music in West Germany between 1945 and 1990.


Miwako Abe has performed widely as a soloist throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, Asia, New Zealand, and the United States. Born in Japan, Ms. Abe’s teachers included Toshiya Eto and Hideo Saito at Tokyo’s Toho Gakuen School of Music, and Yfrah Neaman and William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music in London where she became a prize-winning graduate. She was selected for the BBC Television master class with Yehudi Menuhin and received the award of the Boise Foundation Scholarship from London. This enabled her to complete her studies at the Salzburg Mozarteum with the violinist-conductor Sandor Végh, who appointed her as his assistant. Her debut recital at Wigmore Hall received high praise from London critics.

Since going to Australia in 1982, she has performed as a soloist with major orchestras in Australia and taken part in numerous tours as a recitalist sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Foreign Affairs, and Musica Viva. She has performed in many international festivals, including the Salzburg Festival, Festival de Otoño, the Ankara Festival, the Adelaide International Festival, the Perth International Festival, and the Melbourne International Festival.

Miwako Abe specializes in performing classical as well as contemporary music and many prominent Australian composers have dedicated their works to her. She is currently Head of the String Department at the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne, Australia.


Australian-based pianist Michael Kieran Harvey was born in Sydney and studied piano in Canberra with Alan Jenkins, at the Sydney Conservatorium under Gordon Watson, and at the Liszt Academy, Budapest, under the director, Professor Sandor Falvai. His career has been notable for its diversity and wide repertoire. Renowned for his performances of new music, he has promoted the works of Australian composers, internationally and within Australia. Also in Australia he has premiered works by Andriessen, Wolpe, Martino, Zappa, Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, and Babbitt, and has performed most of Messiaen’s works involving piano, recently releasing a live recording of the Australian premiere of the entire Catalogue d’oiseaux. He has recorded more than twenty CDs on the ABC Classics, Tall Poppies, and Move labels.

Michael Kieran Harvey’s distinctive pianism has been recognized by numerous national and international awards, including the Grand Prix in the Ivo Pogorelich Piano Competition, Pasadena (1993), the Debussy Medal, Paris (1986), four consecutive Australian “Mo” awards for best classical artist (1997–2000), the Australian government’s Centenary Medal for services to Australian music (2002), and most recently he has been twice nominated for the Helpmann Award (2003–4).

In 2005 the estate of the late Susan Remington established the Michael Kieran Harvey Scholarship in honor of his contribution to Australian music, and to encourage future directions in keyboard art music. He is currently Adjunct Professor at the Tasmanian Conservatorium and Fellow of the Faculty of Music, Melbourne University.



George Antheil

Airplane Sonata, Sonata Sauvage and other piano works. Marthanne Verbit, piano. Albany Records 146.

Ballet mécanique. Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Spalding conducting. Naxos 8559060.

Complete String Quartets. Del Sol String Quartet. Other Minds Records 1008.

Dreams, Piano Concerto No. 2, Serenade No. 2. Guy Livingston, piano; Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Spalding conducting. New World Records 80647-2.


Johanna Beyer

Dissonant Counterpoint. Sarah Cahill, piano. New Albion NA 114.


Henry Cowell

Mosaic. Colorado String Quartet, Musicians’ Accord. Mode Records 72.

Persian Set. Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Richard Auldon Clark conducting. Koch International Classics 7220.

Piano Works. Chris Brown, Sarah Cahill, Sorrel Hays, Joseph Kubera, piano. New Albion NA 103.


Ruth P. Crawford

Chamber Works. CPO 999670.

Ruth Crawford Seeger: Portrait. Deutsche Grammophon 449 925-2.

The World of Ruth Crawford Seeger. Jenny Lin, piano. Bis CD 1310.


Charles Dodge

Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental. Alan Feinberg, piano; Joan La Barbara, soprano; Baird Dodge, viola; Charles Dodge, voice. New Albion NA 43.

Earth’s Magnetic Field. On Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center 1961–1973. New World Records 80521-2.


David Mahler

Hearing Voices. Tzadik 7064.

Larry Polansky

Four-Voice Canons. Chris Mann, voice; Larry Polansky, computer, guitar; William Winant, marimba, percussion; Daniel Goode, tapes; Nick Didkovsky,  synthesizer; Ha-Yang Kim, cello; Nathan Brooks, percussion; Jody Diamond, gamelan; York Vocal Index, William Brooks conducting. Cold Blue CB 0011.

Lonesome Road. Martin Christ, piano. New World Records 80566-2.

Simple Harmonic Motion. Artifact Recordings ART 1011.

The Theory of Impossible Melody. Artifact Recordings ART 1004.

Stefan Wolpe

Battle Piece. Marc-André Hamelin, piano. New World Records 80354-2.

Passacaglia. Peter Serkin, piano. New World Records 80344-2.

Piece in Two Parts for Violin. RoseMary Harbison, violin. New World Records 80308-2.

Quintet with Voice. Jan Opalach, bass baritone; Eric Bartlett, cello; Allen Blustine, clarinet; Barbara Allen, harp; Aleck Karis, piano; Daniel Grabois, French horn; William Purvis conducting.  Bridge Records 9043.



Cowell, Henry. American Composers on American Music. 2nd edition. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1962.

Gann, Kyle. American Music in the Twentieth Century. New York: Schirmer, 1997.

Kennedy, John, and Larry Polansky. “Total Eclipse: The Music of Johanna Magdalena Beyer.” Musical Quarterly 20 (1996): 719–78.

Nicholls, David., ed. The Whole World of Music: A Henry Cowell Symposium. Amsterdam: OPA, 1997.

Oja, Carol. Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Strange, Patricia and Allen Strange. The Contemporary Violin: Extended Performance Techniques. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Tick, Judith. Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer’s Search for American Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Wolpe, Stefan. “On New (and Not-So-New) Music in America (1956).” Journal of Music Theory 28/1, Transl. by Austin Clarkson (1984): 1–45.

Publishing credits:
Henry Cowell, Sonata for Violin and Piano (1945): Associated Music Publishers Inc.

Stefan Wolpe, Second Piece for Violin Alone (1966): Josef Marx

George Antheil, Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano (1923): Edited by Ron Erickson; published by G. Schirmer, Inc.

Johanna Beyer, Suite for Violin and Piano (1937): Copied by Kim Bastin; edited, and notes by Kim Bastin and Larry Polansky, Frog Peak/ Johanna Beyer Project, Number 10, May 2004, Frog Peak Music

Charles Dodge, Etudes for Violin and Tape (1994): North Cape Music

David Mahler, Maxfield’s Reel for unaccompanied violin (1983): Frog Peak Music

Larry Polansky, Movement in E major for John Cage (1975, rev. 1996): Frog Peak Music

Ruth P. Crawford, Nocturne (1923): Copied by Kim Bastin; edited, and notes, by Kim Bastin, Frog Peak Music

Producer: Stephen Snelleman

Associate Producer and Editing: Thomas Grubb

Engineer: Jim Atkins

Assistant Engineer: Ryan Egan

Digital mastering: Thomas Grubb

Recorded on August 9, 10, 23, and 24, 2005, in the Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Centre Southbank, Melbourne, Australia.

Cover art, including size, gallery credit, date, format of art (pastel, etc):


Cover design: Bob Defrin Design, Inc., NYC


This recording was made possible by grants from the Victorian College of the Arts and the Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trust.



Herman E. Krawitz, President; Lisa Kahlden, Director of Information Technology; Paul M. Tai, Director of Artists and Repertory; Mojisola Oké, Bookkeeper; Anthony DiGregorio, Production Associate.



Richard Aspinwall; Milton Babbitt; John Lee Carroll; Thomas Teige Carroll; Emanuel Gerard; David Hamilton; Rita Hauser; Lisa Kahlden; Herman E. Krawitz; Robert Marx; Arthur Moorhead; Elizabeth Ostrow; Cynthia Parker; Larry Polansky; Don Roberts; Marilyn Shapiro; Patrick Smith; Frank Stanton; Paul M. Tai.

Francis Goelet (1926–1998), Chairman

For a complete catalog, including liner notes, visit our Web site: www.newworldrecords.org.

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P & © 2006 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.

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[1] Henry Cowell, “Trends in American Music,” in American Composers on American Music: A Symposium, 2d ed. (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1962), 3.

[2] “Although of foreign growth, and reared as it were, in a musical country, where all are more or less conversant in such acquirements; yet have I, till recently, meditated so little on music, that I may justly call myself a Tyro in an art; which, tho’ of so pleasing a nature, is very intricate in its principles, and execution, particularly on the Violin, the King of instruments, and the Pillar of the Orchestra.” Anthony Philip Heinrich, preface to “Tema di Mozart and an Original Air,” in The Dawning of Music in Kentucky, Philadelphia, 1820.

[3] H. Wiley Hitchcock, “Introduction,” The Dawning of Music in Kentucky, New York: Da Capo Press, 1972.

[4] Wayne Shirley, “The Hymns and Fuguing Tunes,” in The Whole World of Music: A Henry Cowell Symposium (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, 1997): 107.

[5] Wolpe’s description was read aloud by Max Polikoff before the premiere of the piece in New York on May 11, 1966. I am grateful to Austin Clarkson for confirming the source of this text.

[6] Cowell, “Trends in American Music,” 6.

[7] Judith Tick, Ruth Crawford Seeger: A Composer’s Search for American Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 227; John Kennedy and Larry Polansky, “Total Eclipse: The Music of Johanna Magdalena Beyer,” Musical Quarterly 80: 4 (winter 1996), 720.

[8] Kennedy and Polansky, “Total Eclipse,” 720.

[9] Ibid., 723.

[10] Charles Dodge, as quoted in Joel Chadabe, Electric Sound: The Past and Promise of Electronic Music (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997), 125.

[11] Polansky’s notes to the piece are accessible online at http://eamusic.dartmouth.edu/~larry/misc_writings/program_notes/movement.cage.notes.html