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「Copland on Musicを読む」第9回の1 1949年アメリカの新楽派



1949: The New “School” of American Composers 



WHEN I WAS IN MY TWENTIES I had a consuming interest in what the other composers of my generation were producing. Even before I was acquainted with the names of Roy Harris, Roger Sessions, Walter Piston, and the two Thom(p)sons, I instinctively thought of myself as part of a “school” of composers. Without the combined effort of a group of men it seemed hardly possible to give the United States a music of its own. 



Now - and how soon, alas - my contemporaries and I must count ourselves among the spiritual papas of a new generation of composers. But personally I find that my interest in what the young composers are up to is just as keen as it ever was. For it is obvious that you cannot set up a continuing tradition of creative music in any country without a constant freshening of source material as each decade brings forth a new batch of composers. 



It seems to me that one of the most important functions of those who consider themselves guardians of musical traditions, particularly in our Western Hemisphere, where the creative musical movement is still so young, is to watch carefully and nurture well the delicate roots of the youngest generation; to see to it that they get a sound musical training, that their first successful efforts are heard, and that they feel themselves part of the musical movement of their country. 



In the United States young composers appear to be sprouting everywhere. My impression is that we are just beginning to tap our creative potentialities. The generation of the 1930's - Marc Blitzstein, William Schuman, Samuel Barber, David Diamond, and Paul Bowles - is now well established. The generation of the 1940's - with which this article is concerned - is being encouraged with prizes, commissions, fellowships, money grants, and, more often than not, performances of their works. Nowadays, in this country at any rate, a young composer with exceptional talent would have a hard time escaping detection. 



Unlike the composers of my own generation, most of these younger men have not (as yet) been to Europe. In a very real sense Europe has come to them, for many of them have had personal contact with Stravinsky, Hindemith, Schonberg, Milhaud, and Martinu, all of whom are living and composing in the United States (1949). It would be strange indeed if the presence of these contemporary masters had no effect whatever on our younger generation. 



But added to this influence by way of Europe there is a new note: our young composers follow closely the work of their older American colleagues. My own generation found very little of interest in the work of their elders: MacDowell, Chadwick, or Loeffler; and their influence on our music was nil. (We had only an inkling of the existence of the music of Charles Ives in the twenties.) Nowadays a young American composer is just as likely to be influenced by Harris or Schuman as he is by Stravinsky or Hindemith (Perhaps, to fill out the picture, I should add that numbers of them have been accused of writing like me!) 



In general, the works of the youngest generation reflect a wide variety of compositional interests rather than any one unified tendency. In the United States you can pick and choose your influence. Of course, we also have our twelve-tone composers, most of them pupils of Krenek or Schonberg, even though they have not yet played much of a role. All this would seem healthy and natural, given the particular environment of our musical life and the comparatively recent development of our composing potential. 



But enough of generalities. I have chosen seven names as representative of some of the best we have to offer among the new generation: Robert Palmer, Alexei Haieff, Harold Shapero, Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein, William Bergsma, John Cage. Most of these composers either are just approaching thirty or have just passed thirty. (Foss is the youngest of the group, having only recently turned twenty-four.) They are all native-born Americans, with the exception of Haieff and Foss, both of whom came to the United States at the age of fifteen and were musically formed here. All of them are composers of serious works that have been publicly performed and, occasionally, published and recorded. 



Robert Palmer is perhaps the least well known of this group. He is also one of the oldest - thirty-two. His music is seldom heard in ordinary concert life: most of it found its way to public performance on special modern-music programs or at annual festivals of American music. Palmer happens to be one of my own particular enthusiasms. I remember being astonished ten years ago when I first saw him, and tried to make some connection in my mind between the man and his music. His outward appearance simply did not jibe with the complexities of the metaphysical music he was writing at that time. 



Ives and Harris were his early admirations, to which he added his own brand of amorphous transcendentalism. Later he came under the sway of Bartok's rhythmic drive. Two string quartets represent him at his best. They are lengthy works, not easy to perform, and not easy for the listener to digest. 



But both quartets contain separate movements of true originality and depth of feeling. Palmer is not always as critical as he should be, especially in the outlining of the general proportions of a movement, but always his music has urgency - it seems to come from some inner need for expression. 



In two recent works, an orchestral Elegy for Thomas Wolfe and a sonata for two pianos, he has managed to discipline the natural ebullience of his writing , though sometimes at the expense of a too rigid polyrhythmic or melodic scheme. Palmer may never achieve the perfect work, but at least he tries for big things. In recent years too much of his energy has gone into his teaching at Cornell University, but teaching is a familiar disease of the American composer. Thus far in his career Palmer has enjoyed little public acclaim; nevertheless, if he has the capacity to endure and to develop, his future seems to me assured. 



Alexei Haieff was born in Russia and brought up in China, but had his musical education under Rubin Goldmark in the United States. Later he studied in Paris under Nadia Boulanger. His background and training give him a strong affinity with the music of Stravinsky, and, in fact, Haieff is a close personal friend of that master. Stravinsky's shadow was pervasive in his earlier works, but gradually Haieff has emerged with a sharply defined personality of his own. He combines a sensitive and refined musical nature with an alert musical mind that often gives off sparks of mordant humor. He delights in playful manipulation of his musical materials, and has a special fondness for sudden interruption of the musical flow with abrupt silences or unexpected leaps or brief backtrackings. 



Thus far Haieff has composed few large and imposing works. Although he has written a First Symphony, he seems most at home in his shorter pieces such as his Divertimento for chamber orchestra, Sonata for two pianos, Five Pieces for Piano, and other short works for violin and piano or cello and piano. Almost all of these pieces are a musical pleasure - they have personality, sensibility, and wit. They divert and delight the listener, not in a superficial sense but in the sense that such terms might be applied to a Couperin or a Scarlatti. Haieff is at present engaged in the composition of a long ballet based on Beauty and the Beast, to be choreographed by George Balanchine for the Ballet Society of New York. It will be interesting to see how he handles a large canvas.