Aspen Music Festival Features American Midcentury Modernists

Earlier this summer Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal penned an article that asked, “Why aren’t America’s [midcentury] composers as well known as its artists?” In his essay The Forgotten Moderns, Teachout proposes that American Modernism is disproportionately regarded as a “visual phenomenon” due to the public’s tendency to engage and support the work of artists (Jackson Pollock), architects (Frank Lloyd Wright), and designers (Charles and Ray Eames), while overlooking the prominent American music from the same time period.

Alan Fletcher (President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School), however, has begun an initiative to put America’s midcentury modernists back on the map. His project began this summer as the Aspen Chamber Symphony and the Aspen Philharmonic performed Peter Mennin‘s Symphony No. 5 (July 13) and Roger SessionsConcerto for Violin and Orchestra (July 22) alongside the other works that Fletcher wants to be “included in the canon.”
We invite you to dip your toes into the midcentury pool below and take a listen to the aforementioned pieces, which Mr. Fletcher describes as “terrifically entertaining—variously colorful, gripping, tuneful and dramatic,” along with one of our personal favorites: Symphony No. 9, “The Ardeatine Caves” by William Schuman.

Duration: 28′
Orchestration: 3 4 4 4 – 4 4 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere: January 10th, 1969. The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.
Online Perusal Score

Duration: 22′
Orchestration: 3(Picc.) 2 2 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
Premiere: April 2, 1950. Walter Hendl conducting the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Dallas, TX.
Online Perusal Score

Duration: 35′
Orchestration: Solo Vln.; 3(Picc./A.Fl.) 2(E.H.) 4(Eb B.Cl. & Basset Horn) 3 – 4 2 2 0; Timp. Perc. Str. (No Violins)
Premiere: 1940. Robert Gross, violin, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Izler Solomon.