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Henry Cowell


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Henry Cowell (March 11, 1897 - December 10, 1965) was an American composer, musical theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:

“Henry Cowell’s music covers a wider range in both expression and technique than that of any other living composer. His experiments begun three decades ago in rhythm, in harmony, and in instrumental sonorities were considered then by many to be wild. Today they are the Bible of the young and still, to the conservatives, “advanced. “… No other composer of our time has produced a body of works so radical and so normal, so penetrating and so comprehensive. Add to this massive production his long and influential career as a pedagogue, and Henry Cowell’s achievement becomes impressive indeed. There is no other quite like it. To be both fecund and right is given to few.”


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  • rarebookroom

    Beautiful and anarchic!

    18 Jan 2014 Reply
  • progtrance7

    Absolutely, the cat while riding a turtle and playing dat song Ridin' by Chamillionaire was so avant garde that it literary composed his music. THEY SEE ME ROLLIN' THEY HATIN'

    8 Oct 2012 Reply
  • caldoriaheights

    he spent four years in San Quentin for homosexual activities. huge influence on Lou Harrison.

    7 Mar 2012 Reply
  • mahleria

    15 years in San Quentin on a "morals" charge really broke him. Broke his heart too, when Charlie Ives regarded him coolly the rest of his life.

    29 Sep 2011 Reply
  • Jack_fe

    The whole argument doesn't work. The word 'classical' and 'composer' aren't synonymous with 'good' anyway, so what do you care?

    17 Nov 2010 Reply
  • barryvs

    Jesus Christ, civility and decency really take a beating in this shoutbox.

    18 Oct 2010 Reply
  • insomniacme

    it's still quite poor really ..

    20 Jun 2010 Reply
  • Aeroaviones

    "Brown people music" doesn't need and has never needed to be taken seriously by Western culture. That you think so just reveals how "white people" still think like they did back in the nineteenth century; just a bunch of colonialist assholes. Cowell's great, and we just need to be a little more contextually forgiving, so to speak. We can be so with him, but you, you're completely out of sync and are a retrograde.

    14 Jan 2010 Reply
  • The_Red_Agent

    I found about about both Henry Cow and Henry Cowell separately. One day I was just like, "Oh, that's neat"

    19 Dec 2009 Reply
  • SixShooterSam


    28 Nov 2009 Reply
  • RJMyato

    brendanvox: as basically the founder of the entire field of ethnomusicology I'd say Cowell has done a lot of positive things as far as encouraging people to study and take "brown people music" seriously so whatever ideas you have in your head about the greatest music theorist of the 20th century I suggest you try to correct them.

    9 Sep 2009 Reply
  • andresgualdron


    17 Apr 2008 Reply
  • Aeroaviones

    The bio's author copied and pasted the first part of Cowell's Wikipedia entry, but edited out the part where it said that the first paragraph is a quote from another composer. I'll re-add it.

    3 Feb 2008 Reply
  • raketerinzekete

    I too discovered Henry Cow through Henry Cowell. The biography on Last.FM is a bit strange, first it tells us Henry Cowell died more than 40 years ago, and next it states that he is a living composer who started his experiments only 30 years ago (that would mean, 10 years after his own death). Any knowledgeable person cares to edit?

    15 Nov 2007 Reply
  • Ciacchi

    actually I discovered Henry Cow through Henry Cowell... I think I learned about Henry Cowell skimming through Wikipedia. Anyway, both Henries are great. And it seems Henry Cow actually was not referring to Henry Cowell, but I'm not sure.

    21 Oct 2007 Reply
  • leoneb

    Brilliant. Just brilliant. Now I got to thank the band Henry Cow for two things: their music and the fact that they stoled the name of this great composer. I'd take a long time to get to know his music if they haven't did that.

    9 Mar 2007 Reply
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