Thursday, August 30, 2007

I suppose if I had to use a label, I'd tell you that I'm a Judaic-Vedic-Christian!

Persichetti is one of the major figures in American music of the 20th century, both as a teacher and a composer. Notably, his Hymns and Responses for the Church Year has become a standard setting for church choirs, and high school and college students' introductions to contemporary music are often made by way of his numerous compositions for wind ensemble. His early style was marked by the influences of Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, and Copland before developing into his own distinct voice in the 1950s.
Persichetti's music draws on a wide variety of thought in 20th century composition as well as Big Band music while remaining in his own distinct voice. His own style is marked by use of two elements he refers to as "graceful" and "gritty": the former being more lyrical and melodic, the latter being sharp and intensely rhythmic. He frequently uses polytonality and pandiatonicism in his writing, and his style is marked by sharp rhythmic interjections, but his embracing of diverse strands of musical thought makes characterizing his body of work difficult. This trend continued throughout his compositional career; his music is not marked by sharp changes in style over time. (Persichetti once proclaimed in an interview in Musical Quarterly that his music was "not like a woman, that is, it does not have periods!"). He frequently composed in his car, sometimes taping staff paper to the steering wheel.
His piano music forms the bulk of his creative output, with a concerto, a concertino, several sonatas, and a variety of other pieces written for the instrument, virtuosic pieces as well as pedagogical and amateur-level compositions; Persichetti was an accomplished pianist. Unlike many composers who restrict the mature output to heavier compositions, Persichetti wrote many pieces suitable for less mature performers, considering them too to have serious artistic merit. Persichetti is also one of the major composers for the concert wind band repertoire, with his 14 works for the ensemble; the Symphony No. 6 for band is of particular note as a standard larger work. He wrote one opera, entitled The Sibyl, which was a flop; the music was noted for its color, but the dramatic and vocal aspects of the work were found lacking. He wrote eight symphonies and four string quartets. Many of his other works are organized into series. One of these, a collection of primarily instrumental works entitled Parables, contains 25 works, many for unaccompanied wind instruments (complete listing below), and his 15 Serenades include such unconventional combinations as a trio for trombone, viola, and cello as well as selections for orchestra, for band, and for duo piano.
In addition to his frequent appearances as lecturer on college campuses, in which he was noted for his witty and engaging manner, he wrote the music theory textbook Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice as well as coauthoring a monograph, with Flora Rheta Schreiber, on William Schuman. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Conversation with Vincent Persichetti Vincent Persichetti, Rudy Shackelford Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 20, No. 1/2 (Autumn, 1981 - Summer, 1982), pp. 104-133doi:10.2307/942408

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