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Customer Review

This book is the first of a projected series of books by the distinguished writer on music, Walter Simmons. I've admired his writings for many years and had heard about this book from several friends who recommended it highly. I now see why. Not only does Simmons have a particularly graceful writing style, he is able to explain with clarity some complicated matters, describing music in non-technical language that most reasonably educated readers would be able to understand. His contention that these six composers have been generally under-appreciated and misunderstood is argued cogently and convincingly, and he shares insights not seen anywhere else. There is a section on each of the six composers - Bloch, Hanson, Giannini, Creston, Barber, and Flagello (I was particularly heartened by the inclusion of the shamefully neglected Giannini and Flagello) -- that contains a brief biography and then a fairly detailed description of his major (and many smaller) works in the order they were composed. Recommendations are made for recordings for those wishing to explore the music itself.
I for one am eager to read each of the five prospective books to follow this one. The subjects of the remaining books will cover American neo-classicists, American opera composers, American nationalists and populists, three traditionalists of the Juilliard School, and American traditionalists of the post-1930 generation. When this series is finished it will, on the evidence of this first volume, comprise one of the very most valuable overall studies of American classical music in print.
Strongly recommended.
Scott Morrison
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