Colin McPhee: Composer in Two Worlds

Front Cover
University of Illinois Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 353 pages
Colin McPhee was a performer, writer, and pioneer among Western composers in turning to Asia for inspiration. A close friend of Aaron Copland, Carlos Chavez, Henry Cowell, and Virgil Thomson, he played a vital role in new music activities in New York in the 1920s. But his most important accomplishments emerged from his devotion to the music of Bali.

After hearing rare recordings of the Balinese gamelan--a percussion orchestra with delicately layered textures and clangorous sounds--McPhee traveled to Bali to learn more. There, he worked closely with Western anthropologists like Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. McPhee became a devoted and meticulous chronicler of Balinese musical culture in classic texts like Music of Bali while integrating Balinese and Western music into an imaginative hybrid that anticipated work by John Cage, Lou Harrison, and Steve Reich.

A fascinating portrait of an unconventional artist-scholar, Colin McPhee evocatively looks at key issues in composition and ethnomusicology while describing the profound experience of a composer striving to comprehend a new musical language.

 

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Contents

THE EDUCATION OF A PRODIGY 190026
1
A YOUNG PROFESSIONAL IN NEW YORK 192631
25
ASIA BECKONS 192831
55
THE FIRST TRIPS TO BALI 193134
65
A WESTERN INTERLUDE 193536
93
THE LAST YEARS IN BALI 193738
121
HARD TIMES IN NEW YORK 193952
149
CHANGING FORTUNES 195259
185
THE YEARS IN CALIFORNIA 196064
249
CATALOGUE OF THE MUSIC OF COLIN McPHEE
259
PRELIMINARY CATALOGUE OF COLIN McPHEES GAMELAN TRANSCRIPTIONS FOR WESTERN INSTRUMENTS
273
WRITINGS OF COLIN McPHEE
281
GLOSSARY OF BALINESE TERMS
285
NOTES
287
BIBLIOGRAPHY
337
INDEX
345

COMPOSITIONS AFTER 1940
205

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Carol J. Oja is the William Powell Mason Professor of Music at Harvard University. Her books include Bernstein Meets Broadway: Collaborative Art in a Time of War and Making Music Modern: New York in the 1920s

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