Henry Cowell was an avant garde musical composer who used innovation to create new musical techniques that he incorporated into his lifetimes body of work. Cowell was a child prodigy who picked up the violin at the age of five and learned the intricacies of the piano during his early teenage years. Cowell started composing while still a teenager and on the strength of his self taught musical abilities he was enrolled to the University of California, Berkeley, under the tutelage of Charles Seeger. He was always an innovator and he developed tone clusters whereby the pianist would hold down several keys at various intervals to produce more elaborate sounds. He experimented with innovative ways of extracting different sounds from instruments such as climbing inside a piano and plucking its strings directly as opposed to playing the keys, he used this method on many of his recordings with The Banshee being the best known. Apart from his long list of solo piano compositions Cowell also created 20 completed symphonies and was working on his 21st in 1965 which remained incomplete due to his death in December of the same year. From innovative composers comes great quotes so here is my list of 8 of the best Henry Cowell quotes.
- Mini Bio
- Name: Henry Dixon Cowell
- Born: 11th March 1897, Menlo Park, California, U.S.
- Died: 10th December 1965, Shady, New York
- Alma mater: University of California, Berkeley
- Occupation: Pianist and composer
- Controversies: Cowell was jailed for four years in San Quentin from 1936 until 1940 for homosexual activities, he was eventually granted a full pardon in 1942
- Influenced: The composers Burt Bacharach, George Gershwin, John Cage and Lou Harrison were all influenced by Cowell
- Notable works: The Tides of Manaunaun (1912), Vestiges (1920) Aeolian Harp (1923) and The Banshee (1925)
- Trivia: In 1930 Cowell invented the Rhythmicon which was a keyboard instrument capable of playing patterns of notes to form a rhythm
"Rhythm is a conception, not a physical reality"
"I want to live in the whole world of music"
"To be realized in music, rhythm must be marked by some sort of sound, but this sound is not itself the rhythm"
"Music is my weapon. I believe in music, in its spirituality, its exaltation, its ecstatic nobility, its humour, its power to penetrate to the basic fineness of every human being"
"Both quartets are polyphonic, and each melodic strand has its own rhythm"
"A composer had to be someone with a definite point of view, preferably an individual one"
"Rhythm must be marked by some sort of sound, but this sound is not itself the rhythm"
"If a composer today really admires the old masters he will not imitate their style"