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Constructing a Relevant Past: Mel Powell’s Beethoven Analogs

Constructing a Relevant Past: Mel Powell’s Beethoven Analogs JEFFREY PERRY Powell: The Anxiety of (a Lack of) Influence Few American composers of concert music in the twentieth century have had a career path as singular as that of Mel Powell; one has to look to Charles Ives to find a major American composer who composed for the concert hall trained in a similarly heterodox manner.1 Until he began his studies with Paul Hindemith in 1948 at Yale University, Powell's roundabout path to composition as a primary métier had the benefit of allowing him to find and refine a strong, unique compositional voice; it also exacted a price, namely the absence of a strong teacher and role model. Powell's String Quartet of 1948, Beethoven Analogs, provides a crucial chapter in the story of how Powell surmounted this absence and found his own compositional voice. Powell was born in the Bronx, New York, to well-educated Jewish immigrants in 1923 and was classically trained as a child. His interest in composing concert music stretches back to his piano lessons with a Manhattan teacher named Sara Barg, an immigrant from Germany.2 Barg taught Powell from the age of five or so; their lessons continued into his early adolescence.3 Despite her http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Music University of Illinois Press

Constructing a Relevant Past: Mel Powell’s Beethoven Analogs

American Music , Volume 29 (4) – Mar 23, 2011

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Illinois Press
ISSN
1945-2349
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Abstract

JEFFREY PERRY Powell: The Anxiety of (a Lack of) Influence Few American composers of concert music in the twentieth century have had a career path as singular as that of Mel Powell; one has to look to Charles Ives to find a major American composer who composed for the concert hall trained in a similarly heterodox manner.1 Until he began his studies with Paul Hindemith in 1948 at Yale University, Powell's roundabout path to composition as a primary métier had the benefit of allowing him to find and refine a strong, unique compositional voice; it also exacted a price, namely the absence of a strong teacher and role model. Powell's String Quartet of 1948, Beethoven Analogs, provides a crucial chapter in the story of how Powell surmounted this absence and found his own compositional voice. Powell was born in the Bronx, New York, to well-educated Jewish immigrants in 1923 and was classically trained as a child. His interest in composing concert music stretches back to his piano lessons with a Manhattan teacher named Sara Barg, an immigrant from Germany.2 Barg taught Powell from the age of five or so; their lessons continued into his early adolescence.3 Despite her

Journal

American MusicUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 23, 2011

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