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05-Jul-2024

Latest Expansion of AAA Commissioned Composers Series of Articles - USA

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Robert McMahonWallingford Riegger’s Cooper Square,
Virgil Thomson’s Lamentations, and
Paul Creston’s Second of Four AAA Commissions, Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra

This is one of longest and most historical and analytical ventures of this series, owing to the great accomplishment of Elsie Bennett to have persuaded three of America’s most famous and celebrated composers of the early and mid-twentieth century to contribute to the accordion’s growing classical repertoire. The three works are as diverse and unique as were their disparate styles of composition.

Creston was in his usual virtuosic, syncopated, modal, jazzy, and somewhat Debussyian element in his creation of perhaps the most frequently performed and highly virtuosic concerto for accordion and orchestra.

Riegger, one of America’s earliest exponents of atonal composition, and pegged as one of the “American Five” of ultra-modern music stemming from the 1920s (the other four controversial luminaries of the group being Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, John Becker, and Henry Cowell, the last fated to become a two-time contributor to the AAA Commissioned Composers repertoire decades later), chose to write a rather curious, abstract kind of tango named after New York’s Cooper Square where many musicians of note hung out during the mid-20th century.

Thomson, normally a more tonal, less dissonant composer than either of the above, opted to write a short but extremely dissonant, rather terrifying and highly virtuosic set of variations on a chilling, crashing processional that comprises the opening theme.

As is the purpose of the series, this article offers thoroughly researched historical and theoretical information on the compositions and their creators, along with interesting historical photos from Elsie Bennett’s large photo collection. https://www.ameraccord.com/aaacommissions22.php
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