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Howard Hanson

Howard Hanson

Pulitzer Prize winner Howard Hanson (1896-1981), a major American composer and educator, founded the annual American Music Festival and directed the Eastman School of Music for 40 years.

Howard Hanson was born in October 1896 in Wahoo, Nebraska. He graduated from the Luther Academy and College in Nebraska in 1912, then studied under Percy Goetschius at the Institute of Musical Arts (later the Juilliard School) in New York City and under Arne Oldberg at Northwestern University in Evanston, IIIinois. In 1916 Hanson became an instructor at the College of the Pacific in California. His teaching and administrative talents soon became evident, and in 1919 he was made dean of the College of Music at the age of 23.

Hanson received an American Prix de Rome in 1921 and spent the next two years in Rome. His most important compositions in this period were the Nordic Symphony and The Song of Beowulf for chorus and orchestra, works which show his sober and highly expressive musical personality. Throughout his career, Hanson's compositions reflected the strong influence of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

Among Hanson's significant compositions are an opera, Merry Mount, commissioned in 1934 by the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and seven Symphonies, of which the Third, the Romantic Symphony is perhaps the best known. In 1943 he received a Pulitzer Prize for his Fourth Symphony, Requiem. His Seventh Symphony was first performed in 1977. Other works include a Piano Concerto, Three Songs from Drum Taps and The Song of Democracy for chorus and orchestra, Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Harp, and the New Land, New Covenant, an oratorio for chorus, two soloists, orchestra, and narrator, commissioned for the 1976 Bicentennial.

In 1924, the founder of Eastman Kodak Company, George Eastman, asked Hanson to became director of the new Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Hanson accepted and held the post until his retirement in 1964. His energy and administrative skill made the Eastman School one of the most important conservatories in America.

Hanson became active in several national musical organizations. He was one of the founders, and later the president, of the National Association of Schools of Music, whose main purpose was to raise the standards of university and conservatory musical training. He also served as president of the Music Teachers' National Association, as a director of the Music Educators' National Conference, and as musical consultant to the U.S. State Department. One of Hanson's most significant achievements was the 1925 founding of the annual Festival of American Music, which featured the works of many American composers of all styles. In an era when European composers still dominated the music world, these festivals established the important fact that America had produced a large group of talented composers. In 1976, Hanson himself donated $100,000 to support the program.

Further Reading

Madeleine Goss, Modern Music-Makers: Contemporary American Composers (1952); Joseph Machlis, American Composers of Our Time (1963); For more recent works, see Donald J. Shetler In Memoriam Howard Hanson (1983); David Russell Williams, Conversations with Howard Hanson (1988); and James E. Perone, Howard Hanson: a Bio-Bibliography (1993). □

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Hanson, Howard (Harold)

Hanson, Howard (Harold) (b Wahoo, Nebraska, 1896; d Rochester, NY, 1981). Amer. composer and educator, of Swed. descent. First Amer. to win Prix de Rome, 1921, spending 3 years at Amer. Acad. in Rome. In 1924 became dir. of Eastman Sch. of Mus., holding this post for 40 years. Est. Amer. fests. at Rochester in 1925 at which hundreds of works by Amer. composers have received f.ps. Dir. of Inst. of Amer. Mus., Rochester Univ., from 1964. Known as ‘the American Sibelius’, his mus. reflects a similar romantic outlook firmly rooted in tonality, His book Harmonic Materials of Modern Music (NY 1960) shows his grasp of contemporary technical devices. His opera Merry Mount was cond. by Serafin at NY Met in 1934. Prin. works:OPERAS: Californian Forest Play (1919); Merry Mount (1933); Nymph and Satyr (1978).ORCH.: syms., No.1 (Nordic) (1921), No.2 (Romantic) (1930), No.3 (1938), No.4 (Requiem) (1943), No.5 (Sinfonia Sacra) (1955), No.6 (1968), No.7 (Sea), with ch. (1977); Lux aeterna, sym.-poem with va. obbl. (1923); org. conc. (1926); Pan and the Priest, sym.-poem with pf. obbl. (1926); Merry Mount Suite (1937); pf. conc. (1948); Mosaics (1958); Summer Seascape (1958); Summer Seascape II (1966); Bold Island Suite (1961); Dies Natalis I (1967); Young Composer's Guide to the 6-Tone Scale (1971–2).CHORAL: Lament for Beowulf, ch., orch. (1923–5); Heroic Elegy, ch., orch. (1927); 3 Songs from Drum Taps, vv., orch. (1935); Song of Democracy, soloists, ch., orch. (1956); Song of Human Rights, cantata (1963); Streams in the Desert, ch., orch. (1969); New Land, New Covenant, oratorio (1976); Prayer for the Middle Ages, unacc. ch. (1976).CHAMBER MUSIC: pf. quintet (1916); str. qt. (1923). Also works for pf. and songs.

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Hanson, Howard

Howard Hanson, 1896–1981, American composer, teacher, and conductor, b. Wahoo, Nebr. In 1921, Hanson won the Prix de Rome, becoming the first composer to enter the American Academy there. From 1924–64 he was director of the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y.; in 1964 he became director of the Institute of American Music at the Univ. of Rochester. Among his works are the Romantic Symphony (Symphony No. 2., 1930) and his Pulitzer Prize–winning Fourth Symphony (1944). Hanson's opera Merry Mount, based on a tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne, appeared in 1934. His works for chorus and orchestra include The Lament for Beowulf (1925), the Hymn to the Pioneers (1938), the Cherubic Hymn (1950), and The Song of Democracy (1957). Hanson's music was strongly romantic. His influence as a teacher was profound.

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Hanson, Howard (Harold)

Hanson, Howard (Harold)

Hanson, Howard (Harold), eminent American composer, music educator, and conductor; b. Wahoo, Nebr., Oct. 28, 1896; d. Rochester, N.Y., Feb. 26, 1981. After obtaining a diploma from Luther Coll. in Wahoo (1911), he studied with Goetschius at the Inst. of Musical Art in N.Y. (1914) and with Oldberg and Lutkin at Northwestern Univ. in Evanston, Ill. (B.A., 1916). In 1915-16 he was an asst. teacher at Northwestern Univ. In 1916 he became a teacher of theory and composition at the Coll. of the Pacific in San Jose, Calif., where he was made dean of its Cons. of Fine Arts in 1919. In 1921 he received the Rome Prize for his California Forest Play of 1920. During his stay at the American Academy in Rome, he received training in orchestration from Respighi and composed his first major work, the Sym. No. 1, Nordic, which he conducted in its premiere on May 17, 1923. Returning to the U.S., he conducted the premiere of his “symbolic” poem North and West with the N.Y. Sym. Orch. in January 1924. In subsequent years, Hanson appeared often as a guest conductor throughout the U.S. and Europe championing not only his own music but numerous scores by other American composers. In 1924 he was appointed director of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y, which he molded into one of the outstanding music schools of the U.S. As both a music educator and conductor, he proved profoundly influential. He promoted the cause of music education through his energetic work with many national organizations, among them the Music Teachers National Assn., of which he was president (1930–31), the Music Educators National Conference, the National Assn. of Schools of Music, and the National Music Council, of which he was founder- president. From 1925 to 1935 he conducted a series of American Composers’ Concerts, and from 1935 to 1971 he was director of the Festivals of American Music. For the 50th anniversary of the Boston Sym. Orch., Hanson was commissioned to compose his Sym. No. 2, Romantic. Koussevitzky conducted its premiere on Nov. 28, 1930, and the score remains Hanson’s most famous orch. work. His opera Merry Mount was first heard in a concert performance under the composer’s direction in Ann Arbor on May 20, 1933. It received its stage premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. on Feb. 10, 1934. While it failed to find a place in the operatic repertoire, an orch. suite (1936) won favor. Hanson’s Sym. No. 4, The Requiem, was composed in memory of his father. The composer conducted its first performance with the Boston Sym. Orch. on Dec. 3, 1943. In 1944 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music. Hanson remained as director of the Eastman School of Music until 1964, the year he founded the Inst. of American Music. In 1935 he was elected a member of the National Inst. of Arts and Letters. In 1979 he was elected a member of the Academy of the American Academy and Inst. of Arts and Letters. He also received many other notable honors, including various awards and numerous honorary doctorates. As a composer, Hanson eschewed serialism and other modern techniques to pursue a neo-Romantic course. While much has been made of the influence of Grieg and especially of Sibelius on his works, his compositions remain basically true to the American spirit. At his most inspired, Hanson’s oeuvre displays an array of sonorous harmonies, bold asymmetrical rhythms, and an overall mastery of orchestration one would expect of a remarkable compositional craftsman.

Works

dramatic:California Forest Play of 1920 (1919; Calif. State Redwood Park, July 1920, composer conducting); Merry Mount, opera (1933; concert perf., Ann Arbor, May 20, 1933, composer conducting; stage perf., N.Y., Feb. 10, 1934, Serafin conducting; suite, N.Y., March 23, 1936, Iturbi conducting); Nymphs and Satyr, ballet (Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 9, 1979). ORCH.: Symphonic Prelude (1916); Concerto da camera for Piano and Strings (1916-17; Rome, April 1922; also for Piano and String Quartet); Symphonic Legend (1917; incorporated with Symphonic Rhapsody to form Legend and Rhapsody); Symphonic Rhapsody (1919; Los Angeles, May 26, 1921, composer conducting; incorporated with Symphonic Legend to form Legend and Rhapsody); Before the Dawn (1919–20); March Carillon (1920; arranged from 2 Yuletide Pieces for Piano); Exaltation (1920; also for 2 Pianos and Small Ensemble); 7 syms.: No. 1, Nordic (1922; Rome, May 17, 1923, composer conducting), No. 2, Romantic (1928-30; Boston, Nov. 28, 1930, Koussevitzky conducting), No. 3 (1937-38; NBC, N.Y., March 15, 1938, composer conducting; rev. with wordless choral finale, 1957), No. 4, The Requiem (1940-43; Boston, Dec. 3, 1943, composer conducting), No. 5, Sinfonia Sacra (1954; Philadelphia, Feb. 18, 1955, Ormandy conducting), No. 6 (N.Y., Feb. 28, 1968, composer conducting), and No. 7, A Sea Symphony for Chorus and Orch., after Whitman (Interlochen, Mich., Aug. 7, 1977, composer conducting); North and West, “symbolic” poem with chorus obbligato (1923; N.Y., Jan. 1924, composer conducting); Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Harp (1923; CBS, Aug. 29, 1943; based on North and West); Lux Aeterna, symphonic poem with viola obbligato (1923; also for Viola and String Quartet); Pan and Priest, symphonic poem with piano obbligato (1925-26; London, Oct. 26, 1926); Organ Concerto (1926; Rochester, N.Y., Gleason organist, composer conducting; based on the Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Harp); Fantasy for Strings (1939-43; also as Quartet in 1 Movement); Variations on a Theme by Eugene Goossens (1944; Cincinnati, March 23, 1945, Goossens conducting; with 9 other composers); Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings (Boston, Oct. 25, 1945, Koussevitzky conducting); Piano Concerto (Boston, Dec. 31, 1948, Firkušný pianist, Koussevitzky conducting); Pastorale for Oboe, Strings, and Harp (1948-49; Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 1950, Ormandy conducting; also for Oboe and Piano); Symphony of Freedom (Cleveland, April 1, 1949, composer conducting); Fantasy Variations on a Theme of Youth for Piano and Strings (Evanston, 111., Feb. 18, 1951); Elegy or Elegy in Memory of Serge Koussevitzky (1955; Boston, Jan. 20, 1956, Munch conducting); Mosaics (Cleveland, Jan. 23, 1958, Szell conducting); Summer Seascape (1958-59; New Orleans, March 10, 1959, composer conducting; incorporated in Bold Island Suite); Bold Island Suite (1961; Cleveland, Jan. 25, 1962, Szell conducting; incorporates Summer Seascape); For the First Time (1962; Rochester, N.Y., May 16, 1963, composer conducting; also for Piano); Summer Seascape II for Viola and Strings (1965; Raleigh, N.C., April 20, 1966; also for Viola and String Quartet); Dies Natalis (1967; Omaha, May 1968); Fanfare and Chorale (Cincinnati, Feb. 20, 1976; also for Concert Band); Rhythmic Variations on 2 Ancient Hymn Tunes for Strings (Interlochen, Mich., Aug. 7, 1977). concert band:Chorale and Alleluia (West Point, N.Y, Feb. 26, 1954); Centennial March (Columbus, Ohio, Jan. 6, 1967); Dies Natalis II (Rochester, N.Y, April 7, 1972, Hunsberger conducting); Young People’s Guide to the 6-tone Scale for Piano and Concert Band (Rochester, N.Y, Nov. 17, 1972, Hunsberger conducting); 4 French Songs (c. 1972); Laude (San Francisco, Feb. 7, 1975); Fanfare and Chorale (1976; also for Orch.); Variations on an Ancient Hymn (1977; also known as Chorale Variations for Wind Ensemble). CHAMBER: Piano Quintet (1916); Concerto da camera for Piano and String Quartet (1916-17; Pacific May Festival, May 1917; also for Piano and String Orch.); Exaltation for 2 Pianos and Small Ensemble (1920; also for Orch. with piano obbligato); Quartet in 1 Movement (1923; Washington, D.C, Oct. 30, 1925; also for Fantasy for String Orch.); Lux Aeterna for Viola and String Quartet (1923; also for Viola and Orch.); Festival Fanfare for 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, and Timpani (1937-38; Rochester, N.Y, April 28, 1938, composer conducting); Fanfare for the Signal Corps for 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, and Percussion (1942); Pastorale for Oboe and Piano (1948-9; also for Oboe, Strings, and Harp); Summer Seascape II for Viola and String Quartet (1965; Washington, D.C., April 7, 1966; also for Viola and String Orch.); Elegy for Viola and String Quartet (1966). piano:Prelude and Double Fugue for 2 Pianos (1915); 4 Poems (1917); Sonata (1917; San Jose, Calif., April 7, 1919); Scandinavian Suite (1918–19); Clog Dance (1919); 3 Miniatures (1918–19); 3 Etudes (1919); 2 Yuletide Pieces (1919); Enchantment (1935); Dance of the Warriors (1935); The Bell (1942); For the First Time (1962; also for Orch.); The Big Bell and the Little Bell (1964); Horn Calls in the Forest (1964); Tricks or Treats (1964). VOCAL: The Lament for Beowulf for Chorus and Orch. (1925; Ann Arbor, 1926); Heroic Elegy for Chorus and Orch. (1927); (3) Songs from “Drum Taps,” after Whitman, for Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (Ann Arbor, May 15, 1935, composer conducting); Hymn for the Pioneers (Banbrytarhymn) for Men’s Chorus (Wilmington, Del, June 10, 1938); The Cherubic Hymn for Chorus and Orch. (1949; Rochester, N.Y, May 11, 1950, composer conducting); Centennial Ode for Baritone, Speaker, Chorus, and Orch. (Rochester, N.Y, June 10, 1950, composer conducting); How Excellent Thy Name for Women’s Chorus and Piano (1952); The Song of Democracy for Chorus and Orch. (Washington, D.C, April 9, 1957, composer conducting); Creator of Infinities Beyond Our Earth for Chorus (Rochester, N.Y, Oct. 23, 1960); Song of Human Rights for Chorus and Orch. (Washington, D.C, Dec. 10, 1963); 4 Psalms for Baritone, Cello, and String Quartet (Washington, D.C, Oct. 31, 1964); One Hundred Fiftieth Psalm for Men’s Chorus (1965; also for Mixed Chorus and Piano or Organ; incorporated in 2 Psalms); One Hundred Twenty-first Psalm for Alto or Baritone and Chorus (1968; incorporated in 2 Psalms); 2 Psalms for Alto or Baritone, Chorus, and Orch. (1968); Streams in the Desert for Chorus and Orch. (Lubbock, Tex., May 18, 1969, composer conducting); The Mystic Trumpeter for Chorus, Narrator, and Orch. (Kansas City, Mo., April 22, 1970); Lumen in Christo for Chorus and Orch. (Rochester, N.Y, Oct. 15, 1974; also for Women’s Chorus and Orch.); A Prayer of the Middle Ages for Chorus (1976; also as Hymn of the Middle Ages); New Land, New Covenant for Soprano, Baritone, Narrator, Chorus, Optional Children’s Chorus, Organ, and Small Orch. (Bryn Mawr, Pa., May 2, 1976); songs.

Writings

Harmonic Materials of Modern Music: Resources of the Tempered Scale (N.Y, 1960).

Bibliography

R. Watanabe, Music of H. H. (Rochester, N.Y, 1966); R. Monroe, H. H.: American Music Educator (diss., Fla. State Univ., 1970); A. Caruine, The Choral Music of H. H. (diss., Univ. of Tex., 1977); J. Perone,H. H: A Bio-Bibliography (Westport, Conn., 1993); M. Plain, H. H.: A Comprehensive Catalog of the Manuscripts (Rochester, N.Y., 1997).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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