Vazzana, Anthony

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Vazzana, Anthony

Vazzana, Anthony, American composer and educator; b. Troy, N.Y., Nov. 4, 1922. He was of a musical family; his father played the mandolin. He studied piano with George H. Pickering, and attended the State Univ. of N.Y. Coll. at Potsdam. In 1943 he was inducted into the U.S. Air Force, where he arranged and conducted suitable music in concert bands. He resumed his musical studies after his discharge, and in 1946 enrolled at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, where his instructors were Fine, Shaw, Chappie, Bernstein, and Ross. In 1948 he enrolled at the Univ. of Southern Calif, in Los Angeles in the classes of Stevens, Dahl, and Kanitz; Vazzana received his M.M. in 1948. Subsequently he divided his time between composing and teaching; he was successively on the faculty of Calif. State Univ. at Long Beach and at Los Angeles, Champlain Coll., and Danbury (Conn.) State Coll. In 1959 he received the degree of doctor in composition at the Univ. of Southern Calif, and joined the faculty of its School of Music. In his teaching, Vazzana resolutely promoted advanced techniques in composition; he wrote a set of books on theory, Projects in Musicianship (4 vols., 1965-68). In his compositions, he pursued a logical evolutionary line, beginning with neo-Classical formations and continuing with progressive harmonic and contrapuntal complications, in which dissonances are ultimately emancipated and rhythms become increasingly asymmetrical; all of this is aided and abetted by eloquent pregnant pauses separating brief melodic ejaculations. Special effects, such as striking the bodies of musical instruments with taps and kicks, soundlessly blowing through the embouchure of a wind instrument, such as a horn, and the like, add to the quaquaversal quality of sonorism in his works.


orch: Andante and Allegro (1949); Symphonic Allegro (1958); Harlequin Suite (1959); Suitefor Strings (1963); Sym. No. 1 (1963); Spectrafor Band (1965); Partite sopra victimae paschali laudesfor Wind Orch. (1976); Trinakie (1977); Varianti (1982); Odissea (1989); Metamorphosesfor Wind Orch. (1989); Concerto Sapporofor Euphonium and Orch. (Sapporo, Aug. 10, 1990); Sinfonia Tejanafor Symphonic Band (1992). CHAMBER: Sonata for Clarinet, Horn, and Piano (1947); String Quartet (1948); Woodwind Quintet (1948); Suite for Viola and Piano (1948); Quartet for Violin, Viola, Cello, and Piano (1949); Violin Sonata (1958); Musicfor 2 Flutes (1962); Fantasia concertantefor Cello and Piano (1970); Incontrifor Violin and Piano (1971); Tre monodiefor Trombone (1976); Cambifor Tuba and Percussion (1977); Montaggifor 4 Tubas (1978); Studifor Saxophone (1979); Buccinafor Horn and Piano (1979); Partitafor Euphonium, Piano, and Percussion (1980); Concerto a trefor Clarinet, Double Bass, and Instrumental Ensemble (1981); Convolanofor Viola and Horn (1982); Lamentazionefor Viola (1985); Fantasia Concertantefor Cello and Piano (1985); Introduzione e Danzafor Bass Clarinet and Piano (1986); Capricciofor Clarinet and Piano (1987); Saggi Musicalifor Soprano Saxophone and Piano (1988); Disegni IIfor Cello, Piano, and Percussion (1989); Lineafor Horn (1990); Chamber Concertinofor Piano and Chamber Ensemble (1991-93); Gestifor Bassoon (1992). KEYBOARD: Piano: Sonata (1962); Disegni I (1978). Organ: Meditation (1994). VOCAL: Songs of Life and Naturefor Voice and Piano (1962).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire