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Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
#2994063 06/22/20 12:22 PM
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Fourth of July fireworks have already started in my US town. Music crosses all borders and boundaries, but I'm curious which American composers and keyboard works have made a positive impact on you all. I am personally a fan of the contemporary composer Steve Reich (his Piano Phase has got me under a spell). I'm also a casual student of music history, and the earliest keyboard works I can find published in the US are Alexander Reinagle's "Philadelphia Sonatas", 1 of which I will link to below. My favorite all round US composer is Copland (Billy the Kid). Feel free to include jazz and ragtime in your answers, and Latin American composers too,though I'm mostly focused on classical music here in the US.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImEhQvsukJM

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iamandrew3 #2994080 06/22/20 01:33 PM
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Ives Concord Sonata

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994084 06/22/20 01:38 PM
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Barber's Piano Concerto and piano sonata are among my favorite 20th century works.

I'm surprised that so few American pianists play them.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994123 06/22/20 03:33 PM
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Lowell Liebermann is one of my favorite living composers. A lot of people know him for writing Gargoyles, but he has written so much more than that.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994147 06/22/20 04:45 PM
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Scott Joplin's ragtime pieces. Spent a happy summer many years ago learning a number of them - Maple Leaf Rag, Gladiolous Rag, Pine Apple Rag, The Entertainer, Magnetic Rag, and Bethena, A Concert Waltz. Such fun to play and fits so well under the fingers too.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994184 06/22/20 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by iamandrew3
Fourth of July fireworks have already started in my US town. Music crosses all borders and boundaries, but I'm curious which American composers and keyboard works have made a positive impact on you all. I am personally a fan of the contemporary composer Steve Reich (his Piano Phase has got me under a spell). I'm also a casual student of music history, and the earliest keyboard works I can find published in the US are Alexander Reinagle's "Philadelphia Sonatas", 1 of which I will link to below. My favorite all round US composer is Copland (Billy the Kid). Feel free to include jazz and ragtime in your answers, and Latin American composers too,though I'm mostly focused on classical music here in the US.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImEhQvsukJM

I find it ironic that in the context of a thread asking about piano pieces by American composers, the Copland work you mention is one of his ballets. Copland wrote some amazing, wonderful, innovative piano works that are (thankfully) nothing like his popular ballets...the Passacaglia, the Fantasy, the Sonata, the Variations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1-vIw_M-Qg

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994298 06/23/20 08:54 AM
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I'll break it down into categories.

My favourite American composer of pedagogical pieces is William Gillock. I love teaching his pieces, heck, I love playing them myself.

My favourite American composer of "serious" "Classical" pieces is William Bolcom. I wish I had more time to work on Bolcom, and I wish his pieces would appear on diploma syllabi.

My favourite American composer of "popular" music is Scott Joplin, hands down.

Honourable mentions to George Gershiwn in both the serious and popular categories, and John Thompson and Edna Mae Burnam in the pedagogical category.


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Cedar Park, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko"
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994319 06/23/20 10:14 AM
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George Gershwin. He is my favorite American Composer. If I had to pick one piece as a favorite, it would be - Three Preludes for Piano.


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...without music, no life...
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
Music Me #2994330 06/23/20 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Music Me
George Gershwin. He is my favorite American Composer. If I had to pick one piece as a favorite, it would be - Three Preludes for Piano.
Gershwin at the Keyboard

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994449 06/23/20 04:59 PM
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I've gotten into Amy Beach recently. Her style changed so much when you compare early vs. late works.


aka Lady Arabesque
YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/hayburner1969
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994452 06/23/20 05:11 PM
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'Aeolian harp' by Cowell, an encore that enchants every audience.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994516 06/23/20 09:59 PM
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Another vote for Gershwin. The Rhapsody in Blue piano solo. If you’re feeling more adventurous, the “Second Rhapsody” is in my opinion his finest work ever.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994725 06/24/20 12:41 PM
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I'll give the American Piano Sonata a special shout-out -- in addition to those mentioned (Barber, Ives, Copland), these others I consider quite significant:

Norman Dello Joio -- #3
Elliott Carter
Quincy Porter
Vincent Persichetti -- #3
Roger Sessions -- #2
George Walker -- #2
Elie Siegmeister --#1
Charles Griffes
Ross Lee Finney -- #3
Gail Kubik
Leo Sowerby
Leo Ornstein -- #4

As you can see, the list goes on and on. I can't honestly say I have a favorite composer, although I do consider the Barber to be the most considerable among the piano sonatas.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994730 06/24/20 12:55 PM
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Tim - I literally was just in the process of making up a list myself, when I refreshed the topic and noticed three of the 10 pieces I had put down so far are also on your list: Dello-Joio 3, Griffes, Ornstein 4! Now I have to go listen to the ones on your list that I don't recognize since you clearly are a discerning music lover! wink

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psyche23 #2994772 06/24/20 02:44 PM
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Love it, psyche23. I too spent 1 summer learning Scott Joplin, The Entertainer, Fig Leaf Rag, and Maple Leafe Rag, reading bar over bar braille. It was 1 of the great musical adventures of my life.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994779 06/24/20 02:59 PM
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Great responses everyone! I did observe that most of your favorites are from the 20th century. From the cursory studying I've done of music history, I get the impression that early "classical music" in America is largely nonexistent because early music here was rooted in the church (Christian hymnity),and African spirituals, and not so much secular art music. Which is why I find the Reinagle sonatas significant, as they are from the founding era. But please enlighten me if I am wrong about all this.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994790 06/24/20 03:23 PM
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Louis Moreau Gottschalk, whose mother was French Creole, shouldn't be forgotten. In fact, he's composed many piano pieces which are still played today, the most well-known probably being The Banjo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul113TK2hEw

His piano pieces are the first musical examples of American creole musical culture, a mix of African-American and European traditions. After a concert at the Salle Pleyel, Chopin remarked: "Give me your hand, my child; I predict that you will become the king of pianists." Liszt and Alkan, too, recognised Gottschalk's extreme talent.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994800 06/24/20 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by iamandrew3
Great responses everyone! I did observe that most of your favorites are from the 20th century. From the cursory studying I've done of music history, I get the impression that early "classical music" in America is largely nonexistent because early music here was rooted in the church (Christian hymnity),and African spirituals, and not so much secular art music. Which is why I find the Reinagle sonatas significant, as they are from the founding era. But please enlighten me if I am wrong about all this.

Well, i dont think anyone mentionned Edward MacDowell, who is a late 19th century composer. He wrote 4 piano sonatas which are not played very often.

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994814 06/24/20 04:41 PM
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Confrey: Three Little Oddities

Re: Your favorite"American" composer-piano pieces
iamandrew3 #2994816 06/24/20 04:49 PM
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Sidokar - Yes that was a sonata on my list that was not on Tim's sonata list: MacDowell's "Keltic" sonata (the fourth). All four are good; I just like that one best.

bennevis - I used to play Gottschalk's "The Banjo". It's not as hard as it sounds, and great fun to play. I saw Eugene List play it in-person once (he was a big champion of Gottschalk's works) in a concert that also included one of Gottschalk's orchestral works....can't recall for sure, but prob. the Tarentelle, along with List -- I remember speaking with List in the reception afterwards about how the tempo was slower than on his LP of the piece, and he said yes he had to be cautious because of the ability of the local orchestra he was playing with. But then he really ripped into The Banjo at the end and played it at breakneck speed at the end.

Last edited by scriabinfanatic; 06/24/20 04:51 PM.
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