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Lou Harrison and the Great American Piano Concerto


  1. Joe Townley says:

    YouTube has a wealth of American piano concertos posted by various individuals that listeners can peruse. One can survey this vast literature (I wouldn’t be surprised if roughly 2000 have been written in the last 100 years or so) and yet I find only two regularly appearing on concert venues: the Gershwin Concerto in F and the MacDowell No. 2 in D Minor. Why is this? It’s clear that nothing the best American composers have written will ever get near the Rachmaninoff Paganini Variations or his 2nd and 3rd Concertos in terms of popularity, much less receive a cursory performance every now and then, and again I ask “Why is this?” Is it that the average listener is just not attuned to cerebral American music? Or do they just long for the sweeping Romantic melodies that flow from Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky? I’m one who fits in the latter category. I’m working on my Second Piano Concerto now which is cast in a definitive Romantic mold–the first movement is on YouTube. I say this not so much for self-promotion but just to make the point that there ARE composers out there who believe that the diatonic has not yet been completely exhausted–that it still hold vast potential for the right talented composer to mine. I may not be that composer but I’m sure (s)he’s out there somewhere, just fast asleep.

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