July 18, 2010

(Edward Burlingame Hill - one of the many voices of Americana in the 1930s)

Back to transcriptions this week. This one, a 1947 series for NBC Radio called The Story Of Music. A performance by the Eastman-Rochester Music School Chamber players of Edward Burlingame Hill's Sextet for Winds and Piano, op. 39. Hill is one of those composers who was very popular during the 1930's and 1940's but who has almost completely faded from view by 2010. Very conservative in approach, his music was light, charming and borderline unmemorable. Like many American composers at the time, he took his cue from the European establishment of Brahms and Beethoven, not of Schoenberg or Mahler. That said, he was very prolific and pieces like this one serve to illustrate that the climate for music composition in the U.S. during the early years of the 20th century was alive and well and flourishing. That Hill wasn't a pioneer in the field of Orchestral or Chamber music shouldn't relegate him or his work to an Artistic Lost and Found. Sometimes artists are just good at what they do and have a solid, if unremarkable point of view. It doesn't mean they need to be ignored or shunned. Edward Burlingame Hill was a good, solid composer - and the world has a lot of room for that.

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