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United States Music

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Author Topic: United States Music  (Read 27458 times)
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« Reply #165 on: December 04, 2014, 04:18:52 pm »

Music of William Bergsma

From the collection of Karl Miller

Paul Bunyan Suite
Oregon All-State Orchestra
Vilem Sokol
Source LP: Century 23578

Documentary One, Suite for Orchestra
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra
Vilem Sokol
Source LP: Seattle Youth Symphony 10775-7

Symphony #1 (1949)
Ditson Festival
Columbia University
Izler Soloman

Wikipedia Bio Posting:
William Laurence Bergsma (April 1, 1921 – March 18, 1994) was an American composer.

After studying piano with his mother, a former opera singer, and then the viola, Bergsma moved on to study composition; his most significant teachers were Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. Bergsma attended Stanford University for two years (1938–40) before moving on to the Eastman School of Music, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees. In 1946 he accepted a position at Juilliard, where he remained until 1963, eventually holding such positions as chair of composition and from 1961 to 1963, associate dean. In 1963 he moved on to the University of Washington, heading the music school until 1971, remaining a professor from then on after stepping down from the administrative post. In 1966 Bergsma founded the Contemporary Group at the University of Washington, which is an organization of composers and musicians who stage performances of new musical works and educate students and the public about contemporary music; the group remains active to this day. He is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Students of Bergsma include composers Jack Behrens, Philip Glass, Karl Korte, Robert Parris, and Steve Reich.

Bergsma's music is noted for its lyrical, contrapuntal qualities. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bergsma rejected serialism in favour of a more conservative style, though one distinctly rooted in the 20th century. He eschewed the avant-garde—his obituary in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer describes him as having "never deserted tonality" and seeing "dozens of his former avant-garde colleagues returning to the fold"—though he did embrace aleatoric techniques later in his career.

He composed two operas, The Wife of Martin Guerre (1956) and The Murder of Comrade Sharik (1973), which are markedly different in style. The first is a somber tale of a 16th-century French peasant's disappearance and return upon which he is suspected to be an impostor; the music is marked by dissonance which emphasizes the tension in the story, particularly in the final courtroom scene. The second is more lighthearted and comic; Bergsma wrote his own libretto after the story Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, which involves a dog transforming into a citizen of 1920s Moscow as a result of a doctor's experiments. The partially aleatoric orchestral writing is intended to be the voice of Stalin, and uses quotes from Carmen, La traviata and Don Giovanni for comedic effect. He was also a skillful composer of smaller works, including many for chamber ensemble and solo piano as well as orchestral writings.

Bergsma died in Seattle of a heart attack, at the age of 72.

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All download links I have posted are for works, that, to  my knowledge, have never been commercially released in digital form.  Should you find I've been in error, please notify myself or an Administrator.  Please IM me if I've made any errors that require attention, as I may not read replies.

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