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Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music Hardcover – 28 Jun 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (28 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195108957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195108958
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 3.6 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,174,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


gorgeously written ... each page seemingly revealing a nugget of information that history was hitherto reluctant to divulge. (Philip Clark, Gramophone)

About the Author

Joel Sachs is Professor of Music History, Chamber Music, and New Music Performance at The Juilliard School, where he conducts the New Juilliard Ensemble.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By colin tucker on 26 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I knew very little about Henry Cowell before reading this exceptionally well-written and utterly involving biography. Cowell, a remarkably talented and to a great extent self-taught avant-garde composer, saw his career nearly destroyed by the U.S. tabloid press in a rabid outburst of homophobia. As a result he served several years in San Quentin and miraculously survived with, it seems, his sense of humour intact, and then went on to achieve recognition as one of the most inspiring figures in American contemporary music. This is not a music-led biography; Sachs concentrates on the personal story of this fascinating man, on his incessant travelling, his left-wing politics, his early poverty, his successful marriage, while at the same time giving just enough information about the music to whet the appetite for hearing it. The research that has gone into the book is detailed and exemplary and it is clearly destined to become established as the definitive biography.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Riveting Tale of Musical Genius 6 July 2012
By Virginia Musician - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joel Sachs quotes Henry Cowell as feeling that as a composer, he was most concerned with the future of music. But in this beautifully-written biography, there is much to inspire and inform us about the past: information about not only the unusual life and career of this composer of over 1,000 concert works, but also about challenges faced by artists as they lived through wartime, Depression, and more positively, efforts to promote peaceful exchanges in the climate of a Cold War.

This account of Cowell's life and work provides succinct overviews of his activities as creator, performing pianist, educator, cultural representative, and promoter of his colleagues' works as well. Multitudes of details lead the reader to be in awe at the accomplishments, networking, bravery, and generosity of this gifted artist--who flourished despite a highly impoverished childhood with little schooling, and despite four years in prison (on a charge that today would probably never be prosecuted at all). One also comes away with admiration for the role of his wife, Sidney Robertson Cowell.

A riveting book to be read and treasured not only by musicians and music students, but also by anyone interested in knowing more about how serious creative artists functioned and survived in America during the earlier half of the 20th century. The notes and bibliography provide welcome information about sources for further exploration. Hopefully this excellent and long-awaited book will spur further performances and recordings of Cowell's music. Bravo!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
henry cowell: a man made of music 4 Aug. 2012
By peter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exceptionally well written biography of one of the pioneers of contemporary music.
Should be required reading for anyone interested in the cultural history of the United States in the first half of the 20th Century.
A 31 Mar. 2014
By john goodman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Joel Sachs' authoritative and important biography of the composer Henry Cowell gives us an in-depth view of one of America's most important composers and early pioneers of new music. The improbable achievements of this maverick are laid out in great detail in Sachs' searching portrayal. It is a quintessential American story of rags to cultural riches and it is as surprising and compelling as the very music he wrote. Sachs has done us a great service in bringing this story to us so cogently. Cowell's influence has had a broad and lasting reach across the entire field of music which comes down to us today. We can only hope that this powerful biography will help place the music of Henry Cowell back in the contemporary repertoire where it belongs.
Great composer - great book 22 Nov. 2013
By Ulrich Krieger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great, well researched, and well written and long overdue book on one of the most important pioneers of American art music.
Henry Cowell: A Man Made of Music 14 Jan. 2013
By Aaron B. Krosnick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating biography of a composer I was not terribly familiar with. The author was a high-school classmate and remains a friend.
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