Rogue’s Gallery

A friend sent me this old 1960s photo of five composers. If you can identify half of them, you’re more of a 20th-century music wiz than I am:

Composers.jpg

Give up? Recognize any of them?

They are, from left to right, William Duckworth, Paul Creston, Sydney Hodkinson, Iain Hamilton, and Martin Mailman. Duckworth is the close friend who had the photo. Creston’s music I’ve never gotten excited about, but I’ve always been curious because he was one of the few composers, along with Schoenberg, Ives, and Ruggles, that Henry Cowell championed with lengthy analytical articles. Mailman was Duckworth’s composition teacher, and later the local composing celebrity around Dallas, where I grew up, as long-time composition professor at North Texas State U. I remember in high school my composition teacher, the band director Howard Dunn, bringing in Mailman with great reverence, as the star composer of north Texas. The only incident I remember is that Mailman chewed out a fellow student of mine for beginning Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata on the piano and playing it softly, when the dynamic marking, Mailman assured us, was ff.

Of course, the actual dynamic marking is pp. Little surprise that Mailman, who died in 2000, is forgotten today except in the symphonic band arena, but he was someone who, as Southern composers, Bill and I got to experience in common. The student who earned his disdain by playing Beethoven at the correct dynamic was Robert Hunt, still a friend and a superb musician, and, last I heard, conductor of the Midland-Odessa Symphony Orchestra in west Texas.

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Comments

  1. Gabor says

    The best thing that ever happened to new music was when composers stopped having to wear ties for group photos.

  2. says

    Actually, all five of them are Giacinto Scelsi.

    Also, the fact that Beethoven marked the opening of the Waldstein pp is one more piece of evidence (as if we needed more evidence) that he was great. Anybody else would have marked those notes f or ff, and it would have been generic and bombastic. The contrast between the ferocity of the notest themselves and the dynamic at which they are played gives it that unusual sense of epic anticipation instead of the generic epicness that we hear all the time.

  3. Marcy Akers says

    I am Martin Mailman’s daughter, so it is with great interest that I read your story about my father. Thanks for the post!!

  4. Phil Koonce says

    This is to Martin Mailman’s daughter:
    I remember you when you as an infant in Greenville, NC, where your mother and father were teaching at East Carolina University. Mickey, as his friends called him, was one of the very finest composers I ever knew, and I was proud to have him for a friend. I first met him and your mother In Jacksonville, where he was the Ford Foundation Composer. Also he and your mother were at Brevard Music Center with me one summer, I think in 1959. I was very distressed to hear that Mickey died on 2000, and I wonder if you might know where I might contact her. She was one of the very finest pianasts I ever knew. She, you, and I attended the same Episcopal Church in Denton for a short while. At Brevard, she, Jack Kitts, and I played the Poulenc Trio for piano, oboe, and bassoon. I’d really appreciate hearing from you.
    I wish you all the best, and I was very distresed to hear of his death.I’d really appreciate it if you might contact me.
    My email address is: phil_koonce@yahoo.com
    I now live in Bath, Maine.
    Sincerely,
    Phil Koonce
    Sincerely,
    Phil Koonce

  5. Diane Spear says

    This is to Dr. Mailman’s daughter, Phil Koonce, or anyone else who may have contact information for MaryNan Mailman. I studied piano with MaryNan Mailman, Dr. Mailman’s wife, at NTSU in the mid-1970s and have fallen out of touch with her. A group of her former students would like to reach her. If anyone has contact information for Mrs. Mailman, can you please pass it along to me at the following address:
    dianespear@aol.com
    Thanks!
    Diane Spear

  6. Mark Akers says

    hello this is dr. mailman’s grandson and i thought i would read the article about him. he wrote amazing music!
    KG replies: Yes he did. Nice to hear from you.