Howard Hanson


Born: October 28, 1896; Wahoo, NE   Died: February 26, 1981; Rochester, NY  
Howard Hanson was among the first twentieth century American composers to achieve widespread prominence. In contrast to the angular Stravinskian and Americana-influenced sounds that dominated American concert music prior to World War II, Hanson wrote in an unabashedly Romantic idiom influenced by his Nordic roots. Of particular importance to the composer was the music of Sibelius; however, he also acknowledged the influence of composers such as Read more Palestrina and Bach.

After boyhood studies on the piano, Hanson studied music at the Institute of Musical Art in New York City and Northwestern University, where he earned a degree in 1916. In 1921, he became the first American to win the Prix de Rome, which provided him the opportunity to study with Ottorino Respighi, whose colorful orchestral language was clearly an influence on Hanson's own. Upon his return to the United States, Hanson was appointed head of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester at the age of 28. Under the composer's guidance over the course of more than four decades, Eastman became one of the world's preeminent educational institutions. During his tenure there Hanson continued to compose prolifically; he also embarked on a career as a conductor, in which capacity he proved himself one of the great champions of American music. At Eastman, it has been calculated, he presented some 1,500 works by 700 composers. Hanson also commercially recorded a number of modern works in a series for the Mercury label in the 1950s, drawing much attention to otherwise neglected repertoire.

Hanson's most characteristic works are undoubtedly his seven symphonies. The first of these, the "Nordic" Symphony (1922), dates from the composer's studies in Rome. The Second Symphony ("Romantic"), remains Hanson's best-known work, a characteristic realization of the lush, lyric aesthetic with which he is closely associated. Further notable among Hanson's symphonies are the Symphony No. 4 (1943), awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and the Symphony No. 7 (1977), one of a series of works inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman. Other important works in Hanson's catalogue include The Lament for Beowulf (1925) for chorus and orchestra; the opera Merry Mount (1933), well received at its premiere and in subsequent productions, but now rarely performed; and a variety of other chamber, vocal, and orchestral works. Read less

Work: Symphony no 1, "Nordic"


I. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
II. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
III. Allegro con fuoco
About This Work
Hanson was always considered a "Romantic" composer, looking back at and retaining many popular elements of Romantic era music even when that style was considered ouy-dated. This writer considers the Second Symphony, composed in 1930, to be Read more the first of his major works in which that description applies; Hanson even named it the "Romantic" as though to signal his retention of elements of Romantic style in 20th-century music. This symphony, though, was composed in 1920, before many elements of 20th-Century style had permeated into American concert halls. So it is not "neo-romantic" or "looking back at" Romantic; rather it is a genuine and un-self-conscious work of the Romantic Era, similar to music being written at the same time by such composers as Alfven, Madetoja, Magnard, and Bax. The subtitle is a proud one, for Hanson was, as his name indicated, of Nordic descent and his subject was his forebears, particularly in their role as pioneers in the Northern tier of states. While the relative immaturity of the composer shows here in the relative looseness of the symphony's organization, this is a work with grand, sweeping ideas which is good listening. Read less

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Howard Hanson

I. Overture
II. Children's Dance
III. Love Duet
IV. Prelude to Act II and Maypole Dances
I. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
II. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
III. Allegro con fuoco
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": I. Adagio
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": II. Andante Con Tenerezza
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": III. Allegro Con Brio
1. Lento molto and molto tranquillo
2. Allegro molto ritmico
3. Andante molto espressivo
4. Allegro giocoso
Introduction and Chorale: Maestoso
Variation 1: Poco piu mosso
Variation 2: Allegro
Variation 3: Pesante
Variation 4: Andante calmo, nel modo Gregoriano
Variation 5: Allegro feroce
Variation 6: Larghetto semplice
Variation 7: Allegro tempestuoso
Finale: Poco a poco ritardando al tempo giusto
Tamara and Peter Bolshoi
The Deserted House
The Eccentric Clock
Deep Forest
Serious Conversation
I. Largo
II. Andante
Act I: Prelude
Act I: Be as a lion, dread Jehovah... From plots of Hell and witcheries (Puritans, Bradford, Bridget, Plentiful, Myles Brodrib, Tewke, Desire)
Act I: Ah - I deny thy Christ (Bradford, Banks, Tewke, Puritans)
Act I: A savoury discourse, good Master Bradford (Bradford, Tewke)
Act I: Last night came One that paced a-down the stairway of the sky (Bradford)
Act I: My son, Thou'rt over-ripe for marriage! (Tewke, Bradford)
Act I: The willow keep to thatch our sleep (Plentiful, Bradford)
Act I: Plentiful Tewke hath catched the preacher! (Love, Bradford, Peregrine Brodrib, Prence, Children)
Act I: Gi' you good night, sir... (Prence, Myles Brodrib, Marigold, Bradford, Tinker, Morton, Puritans, Cavaliers)
Act I: Scratch a Roundhead, find a rebel ... Thrones of Earth be idle things (Prence, Scrooby, Tewke, Bradford, Puritans, Cavaliers)
Act I: Right rev'rend priest, our holy joy ... Respect the Sabbath day (Prence, Scrooby, Tewke, Bradford, Puritans, Cavaliers)
Act I: Marigold! Lady! ... Let us be lions of Jehovah (Bradford, Marigold, Lackland, Myles Brodrib, Tewke, Puritans, Cavaliers)
Act II Scene 3: Rise up, my love my fair one (Bradford, Astoreth)
Act III Scene 1: Prelude
Act III Scene 2: Gird you with Sackcloth (Tewke, Puritans)
Act III Scene 2: Never more shall prayer ravish these lips!... (Bradford, Chorus)
Act III Scene 2: Woe, woe! Lost sheep are we (Puritans, Bradford, Myles Brodrib)
Act III Scene 2: No witch am I; But one that long ago was happy (Marigold)
Act III Scene 2: Ay, even now thy lover frets at Hellgate - Death to the Witch (Bradford, Marigold, Ensemble)
I. Overture
II. Children's Dance
III. Love Duet
IV. Prelude to Act II and Maypole Dances
I. Prelude and Fantasy
II. Scherzo
III. Epilogue
I. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza
II. Andante teneramente, con semplicita
III. Allegro con fuoco
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": I. Adagio
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": II. Andante Con Tenerezza
Symphony No. 2 "Romantic": III. Allegro Con Brio
1. Andante lamentando
2. Andante tranquillo
3. Tempo scherzando
4. Largamente e pesante
I. Kyrie: Andante inquieto
II. Requiescat: Largo
III. Dies irae: Presto
IV. Lux aeterna: Largo pastorale
I. Andante
II. Allegro scherzando
III. Adagio
IV. Allegro assai
V. Adagio
VI. Allegro
I. Lo, the unbounded sea
II. The untold want
III. Joy, shipmate, joy!
March Carillon

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