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Catalogue Raisonné as Memoir

A Composer’s Life

2004
Author:

Dominick Argento

Catalogue Raisonné as Memoir

An arresting and emotional tour of the life and work of the 2004 Grammy-winning composer

Each chapter of this memoir is based on a composition, surrounded by Dominick Argento's reflections on the period in his life when the piece was written and its opening performance. In a lifetime of compositions, Argento has encouraged audiences to focus on their own hopes and fears. Now he shares his own, illuminating the nature of music and its hold on the imagination.

Ultrasensitive to and deeply understanding of the voice, Dominick's settings are an absolute gift for the singer who believes words and music are equally important to the whole. I was proud to be involved in the world premiere of his From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, one of the most exciting and rewarding challenges ever presented to me.

Dame Janet Baker

The celebrated American composer Dominick Argento is known for the care with which he selects the subjects for his works, be they intended for opera house, concert auditorium, recital hall, or church, and for the personal involvement and interest that consistently shine through his music from the premiere in 1951 of Songs about Spring to Orpheus in 2000.

Each chapter of this luminous and revealing memoir is based on a particular composition, surrounded by Argento's reflections on the period in his life when the piece was written and its opening performance. Songs about Spring, a work of his undergraduate years, stirs memories of his instructor Nicholas Nabokov (friend of Stravinsky and cousin to Vladimir), with whom he learned to drink martinis, and also of his first collaboration with Carolyn Bailey, the soprano who would later become his wife. In the chapter on Casa Guidi, the 2004 Grammy-winning piece based on letters from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to her sister Henrietta, Argento reveals that his choice of that subject was due in part to the fact that the physical Casa Guidi, where Browning lived, was only a few blocks from his own apartment in Florence and a frequent destination for his guests. Providing insight into his actual compositional process, he also shares the private diary he kept while composing The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, which details his extensive research and preparation for writing that work as well as its difficult road to production and performance.

In a lifetime of compositions that have engaged Western culture from Chekhov to Miss Manners, from Don Juan to the Bremen Town musicians, Dominick Argento has encouraged audiences to focus on the hopes and fears that have defined human existence and their own lives. Now he invites us to share his own, illuminating the nature of musical composition and its hold on the human imagination.

Catalogue Raisonné as Memoir

Dominick Argento taught music theory and composition for nearly forty years at the University of Minnesota. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for the song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf and a Grammy in 2004 for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Casa Guidi.

Catalogue Raisonné as Memoir

Ultrasensitive to and deeply understanding of the voice, Dominick's settings are an absolute gift for the singer who believes words and music are equally important to the whole. I was proud to be involved in the world premiere of his From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, one of the most exciting and rewarding challenges ever presented to me.

Dame Janet Baker

A gracious, great and funny book about Argento’s work and his devoted wife, Carolyn. A gem.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

This book is not just for classical music lovers. Though highly cultured and trained in music theory, he tells his story in such a way that the layperson can enjoy it, highlighting not just the shape of his compositions, but also the context in which they came to life, with especially good anecdotes about fellow musicians and composers. A fine model for musical memoirists.

The Corresponder

The result is a unique, autobiographical odyssey of an important American composer. The reader will find this volume difficult to put down.

Choice

Instead of selecting a contemporary or classic piece of literature and composing music to enliven it, he’s taken five decades of his music and woven his life story through it.

Daily Record/Sunday News

Catalogue Raisonné as Memoir

Contents

Preface

Songs about Spring
Sicilian Limes
Divertimento for Piano and Strings
The Resurrection of Don Juan
Ode to the West Wind
String Quartet
The Boor
Six Elizabethan Songs
Colonel Jonathan the Saint
Christopher Sly
The Masque of Angels
Royal Invitation, or Homage to the Queen of Tonga
Variations for Orchestra (The Mask of Night)
The Revelation of Saint John the Divine
The Shoemakers’ Holiday
Letters from Composers
A Nation of Cowslips
Bravo Mozart!
Tria Carmina Paschalia
Postcard from Morocco
A Ring of Time
Jonah and the Whale
To Be Sung upon the Water
A Water Bird Talk
From the Diary of Virginia Woolf
The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe
ln Praise of Music
Miss Havisham’s Fire
A Thanksgiving to God, for His House
Let All the World in Every Corner Sing
Miss Havisham’s Wedding Night
Peter Quince at the Clavier
Fire Variations
I Hate and I Love (Odi et Amo)
The Andrée Expedition
Prelude for Easter Dawning
Casa Guidi
Casanova’s Homecoming
Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe
Capriccio for Clarinet and Orchestra
Te Deum (Verba Domini Cum Verbis Populi)
The Aspern Papers
Easter Day
The Angel Israfil
A Toccata of Galuppi’s
Everyone Sang
The Dream of Valentino
To God “In memoriam M. B. 1994”
Valentino Dances
Spirituals and Swedish Chorales
Miss Havisham’s Fire (revised)
Valse Triste
Walden Pond
A Few Words about Chekhov
Reverie (Reflections on a Hymn Tune)
Miss Manners on Music
The Vision
The Bremen Town Musicians
Sonnet 64 (In memoriam 9/11/01)
Orpheus
From a Composer’s Journal
Discography

Index

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