Howard Hanson

Biography

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"

Browse 1-5 of 5 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Mercury Living Presence - The Collector's Edition Vol 2
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001831802 Release Date: 06/04/2013   Number of Discs: 55
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Anton von Webern,  Alban Berg,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Helga Pilarczyk,  Yehudi Menuhin,  Mihaly Székely,  Olga Szönyi  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Rafael Kubelik,  Anatole Fistoulari,  Frederick Fennell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Hungarica  ... 
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  • 2.
    Hanson: Symphony No 1, The Lament For Beowulf / Schwarz, Seattle Symphony
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559700 Release Date: 09/27/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Howard Hanson
    Conductor:  Gerard Schwarz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Seattle Symphony Orchestra
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  • 3.
    Hanson: Symphonies, Piano Concerto, Etc / Hanson
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 4756867 Release Date: 09/13/2005   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Howard Hanson
    Performer:  Alfred Mouledous
    Conductor:  Howard Hanson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra,  Eastman Philharmonia,  Eastman School of Music Chorus
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  • 4.
    American Classics - Hanson: Orchestral Works Vol 1
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559072 Release Date: 07/18/2000   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Howard Hanson
    Conductor:  Kenneth Schermerhorn
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Nashville Symphony Orchestra
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  • 5.
    Hanson: Symphony Nos 1 & 2, Song Of Democracy / Hanson
    Label: Mercury Living Presence   Catalog: 432008 Release Date: 09/12/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Howard Hanson
    Conductor:  Howard Hanson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Eastman School of Music Chorus,  Eastman-Rochester Symphony Orchestra
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