Tuesday, August 4

Lecture (Historical)

  • Colburn School, Mayman Hall 200 S Grand Ave Los Angeles, CA, 90012 United States

The First American Horn Concerto

Presenter: Christopher Griffin

John J. Becker along with Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger, Carl Ruggles and Charles Ives were American composers of the early 20th Century with an intense desire to create and establish an original American music independent of European music tradition. As historians continue to assess and categorize their individual and joint contributions in early Post-tonal music, the designation 'American Five' has been increasingly used to underline and reference their common interests. The Concerto for Horn (1933) by John Becker proves an excellent example in presenting such unique and truly American characteristics. In the late 1920's, Becker embraced and began to apply the theory of dissonant counterpoint, a compositional concept of Charles Seeger, father of legendary folksinger Pete Seeger. Over time Becker's new found compositional process came to define his music, lending it the "Made in America" stamp so willfully intended. Unfortunately the resulting sardonic character and style, generally misunderstood and underappreciated at the time, may now account for the relative obscurity of his music today. Nevertheless, Becker's vision and vehemence for America, his place within the American Five along with his prolific and thought provoking achievements, qualify a level of significance worthy of consideration. The majority of information will be drawn from my master's thesis "The Use of Dissonant Counterpoint in the Concerto for Horn by John J. Becker".