November 1, 2009


(Morton Gould - Americana took up the cause of Latin Americana before World War 2)

In all fairness, Aron Copland did create something of stir and an interest in music of Latin America when Serge Koussevitsky introduced his El Salon Mexico to Boston audiences in 1938. It did get American audiences listening to what was going on with music south of our border. I'm sure it also helped that the coincidence of our increased interest in South America as a potential hotbed of Nazi sympathizers and potential government overthrows had a little to do with it as well.

All that said, it didn't hurt that American composers were eyeing the music and rhythms of South America as a fertile field of interesting ideas. One of those composers was Morton Gould who is probably best known now as an "easy listening" composer/arranger, former President of ASCAP and occasional writer of Broadway musicals, rather than a "serious" composer of orchestral music.

But early on he was. And throughout his life he turned in an impressive cataloge of some serious works.

The Latin American Symphonette probably isn't one of them. It's light, tuneful and rhythmic with lots of nods to Latin dance forms, but it's not a trailblazer and the musical world did not fall over itself at first hearing. It was written in 1940 and had its premier in 1941. This recording, the first, was made around 1943 and issued in 1944 by Victor and featured the Rochester Philharmonic conducted by the Spanish Pianist/conductor Jose Iturbi. It has not been reissued, even on lp.

In the coming weeks I'll post some examples of what was really going on in Latin American music at the time. But for now here's something historic and light at the same time.

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