Cultural and Ethnic Influences on Musical Style in the works of Ernest Bloch, William Grant Still and Samuel Barber
by J. S. Graves
I basically agree with R. S. Perry when she says that a composer’s “artistic identity is far more comprehensible when viewed against his background than when removed from it and considered solely in the context of individual genius,”1 This week I am mounting a new blog that will present some of the defining influences on the lives and music of three American Neo-Romantic composers, Ernest Bloch, William Grant Still (Little Rock, AR was his home town as a youth) and Samuel Barber.
There were creative consequences for these composers when they confronted or exploited their cultural and ethnic inheritance.2 This blog will investigate what some of those consequences were and what role the unique backgrounds of these three composers played in contributing to an American neo-romantic musical style.
I will examine important defining factors of their careers such as their social and economic circumstances, their educational backgrounds, influential persons in their lives, and the socio-political climate of the world in which they lived. I will post weekly on these subjects, starting next post with a discussion of the types of American concert music in the first half of the 20th century, followed by explorations of what Neo-Romanticism is.
Later I will discuss the seminal influence on American Neo-Romanticism of the life and works of Ernest Bloch, a European educated immigrant, considered by Walter Simmons to be the fountainhead of American Neo-Romanticism.3 Later blogs will be devoted to the lives and works of two other American neo-romantics, William Grant Still andSamuel Barber. Stay tuned!
I have gleaned a few quotes from my son’s blog, jeff-graves.com. I will add to these quotes from time to time. Please visit jeff-graves.comfor insights and comments about technology and leadership:
Do your wounds make you a better leader? I believe mine have. We all have suffered wounds of one kind or another. This might be the loss of a loved one, a physical impairment, a mental or emotional disappointment, or simply a setback where things are not going the way we planned. If you let your wounds, your failures, your losses define you then you limit not only your own personal growth but your ability to lead others as well.
R. S. Perry, the Little Rock artist and composer, has just released two songbooks: a new one, Celtic Crone Songs, and a second edition of an older one, Velvet Nights and Other Songs. See our R. S. Perry page for more details. More information is available on cronesinger.com. Both books are available in print versions and in PDF e-Book format. Both books were edited by J. S. Graves.
I have posted two new versions of my musical compositions on my music website, jsgraves.musicaneo.com. One is a new version of my Love Beyond All Telling for children’s choir. The words are from a poem by Little Rock poet Carol Sieman:
Oh Love beyond all telling, You come to this poor dwelling and make yourself at home, You feed my soul with bread and wine, You fill my heart with angel joy, You lead my thoughts to heavenly places, revealing saintly prayers and faces, You live in my heart, You live in my heart.
The other work is my Song of Mary (Magnificat), the abridged version for adult choir, a new more compact version of this large work to be used as a stand alone anthem. The work includes settings of the traditional Hail Mary, as well as portions of the Magnificat.
Many of us have been using Windows XP for years—after enduring several previous, problematic Microsoft releases. But when Microsoft discontinued support for XP we found ourselves wondering what to do next. If you are reluctant to totally leave your Win XP and are not ready to buy a new computer, or to install Windows 7, 8, or 10 perhaps it is time to consider installing a version of Linux along side your beloved version of Windows on your existing computer, and over the next year or so, ween yourself off Microsoft for good! (Anyone remember all the grief that Windows 95 and other versions of Windows caused over the years?) There are several reasons to consider setting up your existing computer for dual booting:
There are many excellent versions of Linux now available that guide you through the process of partitioning your existing hard drive so that you can choose to boot into Windows or Linux each time you turn your computer on.
Most “core versions” of Linux for home use are totally free! And most come with just about everything that versions of Windows offer and more, including a complete office suite (Open Office or Libre Office), extensive photo and video editing software, music and video capabilities, Internet browsers, and a host of free programs.
Many consider the Linux operating systems more stable and secure than Windows, and the LTS (long term service) ones are continuously updated.
You may find that your computer will run faster on Linux than on Windows.
There are several versions of Linux that can be made to look and feel very much like Windows. One such version is Zorin, the Linux program that I choose after extensive research into the competing versions of Linux now available. (See details on zorinos.com)
Many Windows applications will run on Linux using WINE, a compatibility program. (Comes with Zorin and most Linux distributions.)
Ubuntu is perhaps the Cadillac version of Linux. It continuously updates itself just like Windows and is available as a LTS (long term service) version, completely free.
There are many, many versions of Linux out there. Some are designed to run on older computers. Some are much more streamlined and compact than others. One very elegant and “small” version is Precise Puppy. It will boot and run directly from a cd. (Many of the larger distributions must be burned to a DVD.) Almost all distirbutions must be burned as ISO images. If your burner does not do that there are several free ISO Burners on the internet.
How do you get and install Zorin?
Go to http://zorinos.comfor the free, basic version. (Some of what follows below may have been modified since I first downloadedZorin OS 7 and 8. They are now up to version 12 I believe. Just follow the on-line instructions carefully!)
The Zorin installation file is large―about 1.5 gigabytes. After it is successfully downloaded it must be burned as an ISO image to a DVD. If you do not have a DVD drive or a DVD burner, follow the suggestions at the Zorin site. (You can buy a brand new internal or external DVD drive/burner for as little as $20 on sale!) The important thing to know and remember is the downloaded file must be burned as an ISO image. It cannot simply be copied to a DVD. If your burner will not burn ISO’s there are several free ISO burning softwares on the Internet. Or you could get a friend to burn it for you. You can also purchase a Zorin OS DVD directly from Zorin for a reasonable amount.
Follow the installation instructions on the Zorin website. You can actually try a “live” test drive of the Zorin OS to see how you like it by running it from the DVD, but it will be slower. If you decide to do a full install on your hard drive, you must decide if you want to do a dual install by partitioning your hard drive, or a full install that obliterates your Windows version. Be sure to read the options before you continue.
It is perhaps advisable to defragment you hard disk before you attempt to partition it.
If your computer won’t boot from the Zorin DVD perhaps your computer is not set up to boot from the DVD drive. You may have to go into your bios setup (usually by pressing the “del” key during boot up) and set it to boot from a DVD first before it boots from your hard drive. Alternatively, there are usually ways during early boot up to force your computer to boot from the DVD. Look for such commands as F12 or other instructions during the early boot up.
Ample support exists on zoringroup.com/forumfor issues and problems. (You will have to setup a user account and password.)
When Zorin first boots up it will offer a Guest user login. You can log in as a guest user without a password or a login name. Just click on the “login” button. From there you can set up “real” user accounts. Once logged on, click on the Zorin menu button (the large Z in the lower left hand corner of your screen similar to the XP Start Menu). Then click on system settings and then on user accounts. You add new users by clicking on the “+” sign in the lower left hand corner of the user accounts’ pop up menu. You should only set up one administrator account (usually for yourself). You should then set up a standard user account for yourself and all other users. These will not have administrator privileges. Use only your standard account for daily use. Using your standard account for your personal work maximizes your computer’s security. If you try to do something that requires administrative privileges when you are logged on in your standard account, Zorin will ask for your administrative password.
Good luck with your new adventure into the world of the Linux operating system. Be patient. Even though Zorin can be set up to mimic various versions of Windows, it is often different, especially “under the hood.” There will be a learning curve.
There are some cases when a particular distribution of a Linux OS will not load properly on some computers. Sometimes the support forums can help solve those problems, sometimes not. Zorin installed beautifully on two of my computers but would not install on a third computer. Often choosing a different Linux OS will solve the problem. Also, be careful with partitioning your hard drive. It can be trickier on some distributions than others. Zorin guides you very successfully through the partitioning procedure. Some of the Linux releases are not as friendly about partitioning the hard drive.
Ubuntu and other Linux versions have similar requirements. Check their websites for details.
Many of us can report that the rivers in our lives have profoundly influenced our lives. Such is my case. Much of my life, especially my creative life, has been lived on or around the Arkansas River at Little Rock, Arkansas, the May River of Bluffton, South Carolina, and the Savannah River, Savannah, Georgia. Rivers flow through our lives like life itself: forever approaching, passing by, and receding; forever going places we know not where. This site, as it develops, will reference these three rivers and explore their influences on my creative development over a period of many years. The images of these rivers are part of my life’s memory and history–sometimes conscious, sometimes unconscious–and will surface over and over again in my writings and discussions about art, music and creative writing. The recurring images of these three rivers have become avatars of my existence.
Anyone who feels a kinship with ideas expressed in this blog please feel free to leave a comment.
Hello! My name is John Graves. I have created this new website, astarfell.com,to focus on discussions of music, art and creative writing in the state of Arkansas and South Carolina. (I have contributed regularly to The Bluffton Breeze in Bluffton, SC. Just go to https://issuu.com/blufftonbreeze and search for John Samuel Graves, III) Initially I will be discussing my own works, and later, those of my wife, R. S. Perry. We live in Little Rock, Arkansas. We are both writers and composers and my wife is also a visual artist. I will begin by presenting and discussing my own musical compositions collected in my book, A Star Fell and Other Songs. See the Songs in my songbook tab above for a discussion of the first song in that book, A Star Fell.
Click here forA Star Fell Contents 2014.This book is now available on this site in two versions: an Arkansas edition and a Carolina edition. Please visit the Songs in my Songbook tab for more information. Also, most of my compositions can be purchased individuallyand downloaded in high quality pdf format at my other site, jsgraves.musicaneo.com.
All visitors with questions or comments are encouraged to contact meat email@example.com. Please visit my Abouttab above for my biographical material.
The above art is from the Creation Series by my wife, R. S. Perry. Used by permission. All rights reserved.