Gould, Morton

views updated May 14 2018

Morton Gould

Composer, conductor

Revealed Talent at Early Age

Making A Name

Fused Orchestra and Rap at 80

Selected compositions


Despite receiving no formal education in orchestra tion or conducting, Morton Gould became one of the most prominent American composers and conductors of the twentieth century. His works have been hailed for their accessibility to the general listener and are included in the standard repertory of bands and orchestras throughout the U.S and Europe. As a conductor he had over 100 recordings and a dozen Grammy nominations to his credit, and he had served as a guest conductor for most top American orchestras. Joseph McLellan wrote in the Washington Post in 1994, The first thing you notice about the music of composer Morton Gould is how easy it is to enjoy.

Gould was best known for his orchestral works and has written music in many genres. According to The New Grove Dictionary of Music, Gould has promoted serious music for symphonic band through his own compositions and is a master of orchestration. Max Harrison wrote in the Contemporary Composers, There is also great rhythmic freedom in his [Goulds] music, fluent counterpoint and highly effective orchestration. While many of Goulds compositions are renowned for satisfying a wide range of musical tastes, his symphonic works have been acclaimed by such titans of serious music as Reiner, Toscanini, Stokowski, Mitropoulos, and Rodzinski.

Revealed Talent at Early Age

A musical prodigy, Gould was an accomplished pianist by the age of five. A year later he published his first composition, Just Six. When he earned a scholarship to the Institute for Musical Art at the age of eight, he was the youngest person to train at the school. However, his experience at the Institute proved disappointing. I wanted to study theory, and they wouldnt let me, he told Musical America about his stint at the Institute. They said I was too young. It was an old-fashioned, dogmatic kind of approach, and I was miserable. Gould left the school after a year of study to pursue other training, and by age thirteen was learning theory as well as performing. He studied composition with Vincent Jones and piano with Abby Whiteside, and Whiteside became his long-time coach, advisor, and friend. She [Whiteside] believed that music is all-embracing, that you did not isolate technique from music-making, Gould noted in Musical America. Much of what she taught me has stood me in good stead over the years.

As a teenager Gould gave piano recitals in the New York City area, often improvising on themes contributed by the audience. His improvisations demonstrated his love for jazz, and many of his future compositions revealed jazz influences. Gould also played piano for silent films,

For the Record

Born December 10, 1913, in Richmond Hill, NY; died February 22, 1996, in Orlando, FL; son of James and Frances (Arkin) Gould; married twice; four children. Education: Richmond Hill High School, Institute of Musical Art, New York, New York.

Played piano and composed music at the age of four; was staff pianist, Radio City Music Hall, 1931-1932; was composer, arranged, and conductor in charge of Music for Today broadcasts, Mutual Radio Network (WOR), New York, NY, 1935-1942; was composer, arranger, conductor, for CBS-sponsored radio broadcasts, 1942-1945; has served as guest conductor of many major symphony orchestras; has recorded many albums for RCA, Columbia, and other labels; made concert and radio appearances in Europe, 1966, Australia, 1977, and Japan, 1979; has composed numerous works, including three symphonies, ballets, and a score for a television miniseries.

Selected Awards: Numerous Grammy-Award nominations; Grammy Award, Best Classical Record (Symphony Number One, Charles Ives), 1966; Gold Baton Award, American Symphony Orchestra League, 1983; Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1986; Gold Medal, National Association of American Composers and Conductors; Kennedy Center Honor, 1994; Pulitzer Prize for Stringmusic, 1995.

in jazz bands, and as part of a two-piano duo on the local vaudeville circuit. His compositions were first heard in concert when he was just sixteen.

When Gould was seventeen, a friend set up an audition for him with famed conductor Fritz Reiner. Reiner was impressed, and said that he would recommend Gould for a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute. But his fathers failing health and financial difficulties in the family during the Depression prevented Gould from taking advantage of the opportunity, and he had to quit school in order to help his parents pay the rent. Gould thinks that his lack of academic training in music may have helped him in other ways. I dont know whether formal training would have been for the better, he said in Musical America. Maybe a lot of the positive things that have happened during my career would not have happened if I had gone another route.

In 1931 the still teenage Gould became the pianist at the newly opened Radio City Music Hall, where he performed solos as well as played with the Hall orchestra. At age 21 he began a lifelong affiliation with radio when he was hired to compose, arrange, and conduct weekly orchestra programs for WOR. His programs drew from many musical genres, mostly American, that included jazz, folk, and modern classical.

Making A Name

At age 24 Gould composed his famous Second Sym-phonette, which contained his highly melodic and popular Pavanne segment. His light compositions were popular with millions of radio listeners, giving him a national exposure that accelerated his career. Soon he was in demand by orchestras around the country, and he was also invited into the recording studio. Many of his compositions and orchestrations became staples for high school orchestras and bands in the U.S., most notably his American Salute.

Some critics wrote off Gould as being too lightweight, and at first the composer was upset at the labeling. Later he changed his opinion, and became a champion of popular music. He said in the Washington Post, I was very embarrassed when I was youngput out by the fact that people liked my music. It bothered me that because my music was popular it couldnt be important, he added in Musical America. But in those days, the feeling was that you did one kind of music or the other. The idea of crossing over was not accepted.

One of Goulds greatest talents was his ability to place popular standards into a symphonic context. His Cowboy Rhapsody transferred melodies such as Home on the Range into the symphonic realm, and works such as American Ballads, Classical Variations on Colonial Themes and Spirituals for Orchestra drew heavily on Americana. According to Harrison in Contemporary Composers, In fact Gould has been more successful than some more renowned figures in applying classical procedures to jazz, folk and pre-rock popular idioms.

After leaving his post at WOR in 1942, Gould took on similar responsibilities for NBC and other radio stations. He provided music for shows such as the Cresta Blanca Carnival program and The Chrysler Hour on CBS. Gould soon branched out into music for theater and film. He was commissioned to score ballet music for Agnes DeMilles Fall River Legend in 1949, George Balanchines Clarinade in 1964, and for Jerome Rob-binss tribute to Fred Astaire, Im Old Fashioned, in 1983. He also provided scores for the Broadway musicals Billion Dollar Baby in 1945 and Arms and the Girl in 1952.

Gould has always considered himself an eclectic composer who eagerly embraces new musical influences. As he said in Contemporary Composers, I am not a purist and espouse no dogma but am curious and fascinated by the infinite variety of all kinds of musical sounds. A prime example of his innovativeness is 1952s Tap Dance Concerto, a piece that integrated the sound of a solo tap dancer with music played by an orchestra.

Fused Orchestra and Rap at 80

Gould satisfied his interest in jazz with pieces such as Derivations in 1956, which he composed especially for clarinetist Benny Goodman. He was also praised for his compositions for two or more pianos, especially his Two Pianos that he composed for the first Murray Dranoff Foundations International Two Piano Symposium in 1987. Showing he could still adapt to changing musical tastes when he was past 80, Gould wrote a concert piece for children in the 1990s called The Jogger and Dinosaur that featured a rap musician with orchestra, dancers and visuals.

Dedicated to fostering music appreciation, Gould lectured on the art of composing, served as a musical commentator on television, and conducted student orchestras and bands. A board member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) beginning in 1959, he was its president from 1986 to 1994. In 1986 Gould was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and received a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor in 1994 for his lifetime achievements in music. In 1995 Gould was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Stringmusic, a 30-minute work commissioned by the National Symphony in Washington, D.C., as a tribute to conductor Mstislav Rostropovich.

Morton Gould died February 21, 1996, at the age of 82. He was in Orlando, Florida at the time as artist-in-residence at the Disney Institute. The night before his death, he attended a concert by the U.S. Military Academy Band which performed all Gould compositions. Slated to conduct the concert, he was advised not to because he was feeling ill. Upon hearing of his death, songwriter and ASCAP presidential successor Marilyn Bergman told Heidi Waleson of Billboard, America has lost one of its most distinguished composers and conductors, and the creative community has lost one of its great leaders. She added, His vigor, his wit, and his spirit led us to believe he would live forever. And in fact, through his music and the legacy he left us, he will.

Selected compositions

Second American Symphonette (with Pavanne), 1935.

Latin American Symphonette, 1941.

Cowboy Rhapsody 1942.

American Salute, 1942.

Billion Dollar Baby (musical), 1945.

Delightfully Dangerous (film score), 1945.

Fall River Legend (ballet), 1947.

Arms and the Girl (musical), 1952.

Derivations, 1956.

Windjammer (film score), 1958.

Clarinade (ballet), 1964.

Concerto Grosso, 1968.

Holocaust: Suite (score for television program), 1978.

Two Pianos, 1987.

Minute and Waltz Rag, 1990.

Stringmusic, 1995.



Anderson, E. Ruth, compiler, Contemporary American Composers, G.K. Hall, 1982.

Burbank, Richard, Twentieth Century Music, Facts On File, 1984.

Hitchcock, H. Wiley, and Stanley Sadie, editors, The New Grove Dictionary of Music, Volume Two, Macmillan, 1986.

Morton, Brian, and Pamela Collins, editors, Contemporary Composers, St. James Press.

Sadie, Stanley, editor, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Volume Seven, Macmillan, 1980.


American Record Guide, March 1995.

Billboard, March, 2 1996.

Musical America, January 1989.

Washington Post, December 4, 1994.

Ed Decker

Gould, Morton

views updated May 23 2018

Gould, Morton

Gould, Morton, extraordinarily talented American composer and conductor; b. N.Y., Dec. 10, 1913. He composed his first work when he was only 6. At 8, he received a scholarship to the Inst. of Musical Art in N.Y. At 13, he also commenced piano lessons with Abby Whiteside, and later studied harmony and counterpoint with Vincent Jones. With the coming of the Great Depression, Gould was compelled to quit high school and earn his keep playing piano on the vaudeville circuit. He also played in movie theaters and toured in the Gould and Shefter piano duo. He worked as an arranger, composer, and conductor for WOR Radio (1934-42) and for CBS (1942-45) in N.Y. Gould secured his reputation as a composer with his Spirituals for orch., which he conducted in its premiere in N.Y. on Feb. 9, 1941. Several of his eminently accessible scores became notably popular via the radio, and many of his works were taken up by the leading American orchs. He toured widely as a guest conductor throughout North America and abroad, leading programs not only of his own works but also by other composers with aplomb. In 1986 he was elected a member of the American Academy and Inst. of Arts and Letters. From 1986 to 1994 he served as president of ASCAP. In 1994 he received a Kennedy Center Honor. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1995 for his String Music. Gould’s remarkable versatility as a composer was admirably revealed in various genres. While he was notably successful in producing works of broad appeal in a popular vein, he also wrote a number of scores in a more serious mode. He was especially masterful in creating works for the orch.


DRAMATIC Music Theater : Billion Dollar Baby (N.Y, Dec. 21, 1945); Arms and the Girl (N.Y, Feb. 2, 1950). B a l l e t : Interplay (N.Y, Oct. 17, 1945); Fall River Legend (N.Y, April 22, 1947; orch. suite, San Francisco, Jan. 6, 1949); Fiesta (Cannes, March 17, 1957); Clarinade (1964); I’m Old Fashioned, Astaire Variations (N.Y, June 16, 1983). Film : Delightfully Dangerous (1945); Cinerama Holiday (1955); Windjammer (1958). Television : : World War I (1964-65); Holocaust (1978; orch. suite, NBC-TV, April 1978; band suite, Tempe, Ariz., May 29, 1980, composer conducting); Celebration ’81 (1981). ORCH.: 3 American Symphonettes (1933, 1935, 1937); Chorale and Fugue in Jazz for 2 Pianos and Orch. (1934; N.Y, Jan. 2, 1936); Piano Concerto (1934; WOR Radio, N.Y, June 16, 1938); Violin Concerto (1938); Foster Gallery (1939; Pittsburgh, Jan. 12, 1940); A Homespun Overture (1939); Latin-American Symphonette(N.Y, Feb. 22, 1941); Spirituals (N.Y, Feb. 9, 1941); Lincoln Legend(N.Y, Nov. 1, 1942); Cowboy Rhapsody (1942); American Salute (1943); 6 syms.: No. 1 (Pittsburgh, March 5, 1943), No. 2, On Marching Tunes (N.Y, June 2, 1944), No. 3 (Dallas, Feb. 16, 1947, composer conducting; rev. version, N.Y, Oct. 28, 1948), No. 4, West Point Symphony for Band (West Point, N.Y, April 13, 1952, composer conducting), No. 5, Symphony of Spirituals (Detroit, April 1, 1976), and No. 6, Centennial Symphony: Gala for Band (Austin, Tex., April 9, 1983, composer conducting); Viola Concerto (1943); Concerto for Orchestra (Cleveland, Feb. 1, 1945); Harvest for Vibraphone, Harp, and Strings (St. Louis, Oct. 27, 1945); Minstrel Show (Indianapolis, Dec. 21, 1946); Holiday Music (1947); Philharmonic Waltzes (N.Y, Nov. 16, 1948); Guajira for Clarinet and Orch. (1949); Serenade of Carols (1949); Big City Blues (1950; also for Band); Family Album, suite (1951); Tap Dance Concerto (Rochester, N.Y, Nov. 16, 1952, composer conducting); Inventions for Piano Quartet and Orch. (N.Y, Oct. 19, 1953); Dance Variations for 2 Pianos and Orch. (N.Y, Oct. 24, 1953); Showpiece (Philadelphia, May 7, 1954); Hoofer Suite for Tap Dancer and Orch. (1956); Jekyll and Hyde Variations (1956; N.Y, Feb. 2, 1957); Cafe Rio (1957); Dialogues for Piano and Strings(N.Y, Nov. 3, 1958); Spirituals for Harp and Strings (1961); Calypso Souvenir (1964); Festive Music (1964; Rock Island, 111., Jan. 16, 1965, composer conducting); Columbia: Broadsides (Washington, D.C., July 14, 1967); Venice for Double Orch. and Brass Choirs (Seattle, May 2, 1967); Vivaldi Gallery for String Quartet and Divided Orch. (Seattle, March 25, 1968); Soundings (Atlanta, Sept. 18, 1969); Concerto Grosso (1969; N.Y, Dec. 4, 1988); Troubadour Music for 4 Guitars and Orch. (San Diego, March 1969); Fire Music: Toccata (1970); Indian Attack (1970); Night Music (1970); Serenade (1970); American Ballads (N.Y, April 24, 1976, composer conducting); Chorales and Rags: Finale (1977-82; N.Y, Nov. 13, 1988); Cheers!, celebration march (Boston, May 1, 1979; also for Band); Burchfield Gallery (Cleveland, April 9, 1981); Celebration Strut (NBC-TV, April 27, 1981); Housewarming (Baltimore, Sept. 16, 1982); Apple Waltzes (N.Y, Dec. 11, 1983, composer conducting); Flourishes and Galop (Louisville, Nov. 19, 1983); Flute Concerto (1983-84; Chicago, April 18, 1985); Classical Variations on Colonial Themes (1984-85; Pittsburgh, Sept. 11, 1986); Flares and Declamations (N.Y, Oct. 18, 1987); Notes of a Remembrance (1989; Washington, D.C., June 13, 1990); Minute + Waltz Rag (Baltimore, Oct. 25, 1990); Diversions for Tenor Saxophone and Orch. (N.Y, Nov. 28, 1990, composer conducting); String Music (Washington, D.C., March 10, 1994). B a n d : Jericho Rhapsody (1940); Concertette for Viola and Band (1943); Fanfare for Freedom (1943); Ballad (1946); Big City Blues (1950; also for Orch.); Derivations for Clarinet and Dance Band (1955; Washington, D.C., July 14, 1956; also for Clarinet and Piano); Santa Fe Saga (1956); St. Lawrence Suite (Massena, N.Y, Sept. 5, 1958, composer conducting); Prisms (Chicago, Dec. 17, 1962, composer conducting); Formations (1964); Mini-Suite (1968); Cheers!, celebration march (1979; also for Orch.). CHAMBER: Suite for Violin and Piano (1945); Derivations for Clarinet and Piano (1955; also for Clarinet and Dance Band); Parade for Percussion Trio (1956); Benny’s Gig, 8 duos for Clarinet and Double Bass (1962); Columbian Fanfares for 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, and Tuba (1967); Tuba Suite for Tuba and 3 Horns (1967); Suite for Cello and Piano (1981; Miami, June 21, 1982); Concerto Concertante for Violin, Wind Quintet, and Piano (1981-82; Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 1983); Duo for Flute and Clarinet (1982); Cellos for 8 Cellos or Multiples (Tempe, Ariz., June 9, 1984); Recovery Music for Clarinet (1984); Festive Fanfare for 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, and Percussion (1991); Hail to a First Lady for 2 Trumpets, 2 or 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, and Percussion (1991). Piano : Boogie Woogie Étude (1943); Dance Gallery (1952); Abby Variations (1964); At the Piano (2 vols., 1964); 10 for Deborah (1965); Patterns (1984; Madrid, May 14, 1985); Pieces of China (1985); 2 Pianos for Piano Duet (1987); Ghost Waltzes (1991). VOCAL: Of Time and the River for Chorus (Princeton, N.J., Oct. 8, 1945); Declaration for 2 Narrators, Speaking Men’s Chorus, and Orch. (1956; Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 1957; orch. suite, Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, 1957); Rhythm Gallery for Narrator and Orch. (1959); Come Up From the Valley, Children for Voice and Piano (1964); Salutations for Narrator and Orch. (N.Y, April 27, 1966); 2 for Chorus (1966); Something to Do, labor cantata for Soli, Narrator, Chorus, and Orch. (Washington, D.C., Sept. 4, 1976); Quotations for 2 Choruses and Wind Orch. (1983; N.Y, Jan. 28, 1984); American Sing for Soprano, Mezzo-soprano, Tenor, Bass, and Orch. (1984); The Jogger and the Dinosaur for Rapper and Orch. (Pittsburgh, April 4, 1993).


L. Evans, M. G.: His Life and Music (diss., Columbia Univ. Teachers Coll., 1978).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Gould, Morton

views updated May 29 2018

Gould, Morton

(b. 10 December 1913 in Richmond Hill, New York; d. 21 February 1996 in Orlando, Florida), Pulitzer Prize-winning conductor and composer who made classical music accessible to the American public.

Gould was the eldest of four sons born to James Hiram Gould, an Austrian who emigrated to New York in 1907 and worked as a realtor for the American Bankers Association, and Frances Arkin, a homemaker. When Gould’s parents realized that he was composing tunes on the piano at age four, he was sent to study piano with Abby Whiteside and composition with Vincent Jones. At age seven he played his own piece, “Just Six,” over WOR, a local radio station; a year later he won a scholarship to the New York Institute of Musical Art (now Juilliard). While he did attend Richmond Hill High School, he left at age fifteen to study at New York University’s Music School. His father became ill with tuberculosis in 1931, and Gould left school to support his family. This meant having to refuse a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute, recommended by Fritz Reiner, who was impressed with the young Gould’s talent. So Gould became, at age eighteen, the house pianist at Rockefeller Center’s newly opened Radio City Music Hall, while continuing to study “serious music” with Reiner. Three years later Gould began working as arranger, composer, and conductor for a weekly program called Music for Today on the Mutual Radio Network. He would remain in the position from 1934 to 1942, the beginning of a fruitful and eminent career that would span sixty-four years.

Because of national exposure on his radio program, Gould was invited to record his own music as well as that of others; he eventually recorded more than one hundred albums. His Second American Symphonette (1935) clinched Gould’s reputation as a popular composer. Considered “lightweight” by some critics because of popular American themes in his music, Gould excelled at combining motifs from jazz, blues, folk ballads, and spirituals with classical symphonic idioms. His Spirituals for String Choir and Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, was chosen by the New York Music Critics’ Circle as a candidate for the best symphonic work of 1942. When Arturo Toscanini conducted Lincoln Legend later that year, Gould’s career soared, and he never again allowed critics to affect him. In an interview in Étude (January 1944), Gould advised the reader who aspired to a musical career to “familiarize himself with as many styles and schools” of music as possible.

In 1942, Gould also composed and arranged music for the enormously popular Cresta Blanca Carnival program on NBC, was recruited by CBS in 1943 for The Chrysler Hour, and was given his own Thursday night program, The Music of Morton Gould. Eventually he conducted every major orchestra in the United States.

Film was Gould’s next venture, composing and conducting the music for the United Artists release Delightfully Dangerous (1945), which included six original songs and arrangements of several Johann Strauss waltzes in addition to background music. On the Broadway stage Gould provided the scores for Billion Dollar Baby (1945) and Arms and the Girl (1952), plus I’m Old Fashioned, a 1983 tribute to Fred Astaire. In 1947 Gould composed the score and conducted the orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera House for the opening night of Agnes de Mille’s ballet about Lizzie Borden, Fall River Legend. When asked to score Clarinade (1964), a ballet choreographed by George Balanchine, Gould built on his Derivations, written originally for Benny Goodman.

Television also commandeered Gould for numerous programs, most notably the background music for Verdun (1963), World War I (1964–1965), and Holocaust (1978), for which he earned Emmy and Grammy nominations. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gould toured Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Israel as a conductor.

In 1983, Gould received the Gold Baton Award, and in 1985, the Medal of Honor for Music from the National Arts Club. In 1986 he was elected president of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), a position he held until 1994. On Gould’s death in 1996, ASCAP renamed its annual “Young Composer Awards” in his honor.

Gould earned a Grammy award in 1966 for his recording, with the Chicago Symphony, of Charles Ives’s music. For the 1976 bicentennial celebrations, Gould received three major commissions: from the National Endowment for the Arts for Symphony of Spirituals, with the Detroit Symphony; from the New York State Council on the Arts for American Ballads, with the Queens Symphony; and from the U.S. Department of Labor for Something to Do, with the Kennedy Center Orchestra.

At the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth in 1993, Gould’s piece for piano, Ghost Waltzes, was required playing, and his composition for children, The Jogger and the Dinosaur, which calls for a rap singer, premiered in Pittsburgh in 1993.

For his lifetime achievement in music, Gould was awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 1994, and in 1995 he received the Pulitzer Prize for his tribute to Mstislav Rostropovich, Stringmusic, commissioned by the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.

In February 1996 the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida, invited Gould to be artist-in-residence for a three-day festival of his music; on the second evening, he felt ill and was unable to conduct the U.S. Military Band as planned. The next day, 21 February, the shy, slim, lanky composer died quietly, at age eighty-two, of an aneurysm to the heart.

Married twice, first in the fall of 1936 to Shirley Uzin and then to Shirley Bank on 4 June 1944, Gould had four children—two sons and two daughters, all by his second wife—and lived most of his adult life in suburban Great Neck, New York. Memorial services were held at the Tilles Center for Performing Arts, Long Island, on 25 February and at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on 20 March 1996. Morton Gould is buried in New Montefiore Cemetery on Long Island.

Gould melded typical American motifs with classical idioms to create some of the most popular and accessible works of the twentieth-century symphonic repertoire. Perhaps the following statement, made by Gould upon receiving his Pulitzer Prize, best reflects why his music represents the American scene and soul, and why he became one of the greatest and most loved composers of his era: “I’ve always felt music should be a normal part of the experience that surrounds us. An American composer should have something to say to a cab driver.”

A full-length biography is Peter W. Goodman, Morton Gould: American Salute (2000). Some of the myriad books and articles about Gould and his music include E. Ruth Anderson, Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical (1982) Dicti Brian Morton and Pamela Collins, eds., Contemporary Composer (1992), and Jeffrey H. Renshaw, “The Legacy of Morton Gould,” The Instrument (July 1996): 17–20. Obituaries are in the New York Times (22 Feb. 1996) and Time (4 Mar. 1996).

Elaine McMahon Good

Gould, Morton

views updated May 09 2018


GOULD, MORTON (1913–1996), composer, conductor, pianist. Born in Richmond Hill, New York, Gould was a precocious pianist and composer. He entered the Institute of Musical Art in New York at the age of eight. Later, he studied at New York University. By the time he was 18, his 3 Conservative Sketches (1932) had been published by G. Schirmer. He worked as a pianist, arranger, composer, and conductor with various radio orchestras and at Radio City Music Hall in New York. He composed for television shows, including the educational World of Music series, the World War i and Holocaust broadcasts. Later he appeared as guest conductor with many of the major U.S. orchestras. In his compositions, Gould moved freely between the domains of light and serious music, often using American folk and popular idioms, and in many works adapting jazz resources to classical forms. In 1933 Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra performed the premiere of his Chorale and Fugue in Jazz. Gould wrote for films (such as Delightfully Dangerous in 1945), stage, and ballet, and composed major works for concert bands (including two symphonies and orchestral works which he transcribed for band). His music is an important part of the American band repertory. In 1994 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for his contributions to American culture. His final orchestral work, Stringmusic, written for the farewell of Rostropovich from the National SO, won the Pulitzer Prize. Among his well-known pieces are: Three American Symphonettes, for orchestra (1933, 1935, 1937; the Pavane from the second symphonette became a popular light concert piece); Spirituals, for orchestra (1941, also frequently perfomed); Chorale and Fugue in Jazz, for two pianos and orchestra (1936); Latin American Symphonette, for orchestra (1941), Of Time and the River, for unaccompanied chorus (1946); Concerto for Tap Dancer and Orchestra (1952); Viola Concerto (1944).


Grove online; L. Evans: Morton Gould: his Life and Music, diss., Columbia U. Teachers College (1978).

[Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]

Gould, Morton

views updated Jun 11 2018

Gould, Morton (b Richmond Hill, NY, 1913; d Orlando, Fla., 1996). Amer. composer, conductor, and pianist. Member of Radio City Mus. Hall staff 1931–46. Worked for NBC and CBS broadcasting systems. His mus. contains popular Amer. mus., jazz, and more formal structures. Brilliant orchestrator. Works incl.:BALLETS: Interplay (1943); Fall River Legend (1947); Fiesta (1957).ORCH.: Little Symphony (1939); syms. No.1 (1942), No.2 (Marching Tunes) (1944), No.3 (1947, rev. 1948); pf. conc. (1937); vn. conc. (1938); American Symphonette No.1 (Swing) (1935), No.2 (1936), No.3 (1937), No.4 (Latin American) (1940); Lincoln Legend (1941); va. conc. (1943); va. concertette (1943); Concerto for Orchestra (1944); Minstrel Show (1946); Conc. for tap dancer and orch. (1952); Jekyll and Hyde Variations (1957); St Lawrence Suite (1958); Prisms (1962); Venice, audiograph for 2 orch. (1966); Columbia (1966); Vivaldi Gallery, for str. qt., div. orch. (1967); Troubadour Music, 4 guitars, orch. (1968); Symphony of Spirituals (1976); Burchfield Gallery (1981); fl. conc. (1984); Chorales and Rags (1988); Concerto Grosso (1988).Also chamber works, and much mus. for films and TV.

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