AMERICAN MUSIC SERIES                                                  329 a-e

 

Jacob Avshalomov

With Susan Hawkshaw

Columbia University, NYC

April 4, 2003

 

                                                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Side a                                                                                                                                 pp. 1-22

 

Avshalomov family and musical activities: Aaron, David, Daniel--Jacob's wife Doris--Jacob's early years in China--two different worlds of music: music in the foreign concessions and Chinese music--studying piano--Chinese music: street vendors, other street musicians, funeral processions--sound at the beginning of Aaron's Peking Hutungs--Peking opera and instruments--move to the United States in 1937--meeting Varèse--study with Ernst Toch--study at Eastman: Bernard Rogers--Sonatine--Herman Genhart--Howard Hanson--eight years at Columbia University--Otto Luening--Ditson Fellowship--madrigal group and university-wide chorus--Chou Wen-Chung--accepting position as conductor of the Portland Junior Symphony, later Portland Youth Philharmonic--award for Tom O'Bedlam.

 

Side b                                                                                                                                            pp. 22-26

 

Involving the Portland community in the orchestra concerts: Pictures at an Exhibition; having high school students make translations for Brahms's Schicksalslied; commissions to contemporary composers; making recordings of those compositions; contemporary music and the orchestra.

 

Side c                                                                                                                                 pp. 26-47

 

Players response to contemporary repertoire--Portland rehearsal schedule--techniques to involve the audience and educate the Portland area about contemporary music--love for pieces which combine orchestra and chorus--Aaron Avshalomov's childhood musical experiences--Aaron's return to China and compositions written there--influence of Chinese music on him--Peking Hutungs--Aaron's move to Shanghai and work as head librarian of Shanghai Municipal Library--his compositions including the opera The Great Wall-- Jacob’s travel back to China in 1982 and 1985 for performance of Aaron's music--Jiang Li Li, young Chinese prodigy--Aaron's Piano Concerto--Aaron's The Twilight Hour of Yang Kuei Fei--difficulties caused for Aaron by politics in China--synthesis of Chinese and Western elements in Aaron's music and in Jacob's music--Sonatine--Taking Leave of a Friend--going into the army--directing three singing groups in London--How Long, O Lord.

 

 

 

 

Side d                                                                                                                                            pp. 47-57

 

Pentatonic scales in China--Choral/Orchestral Works: Inscriptions at the City of Brass--City Upon a Hill--How Long O Lord--Praises from the Corners of the Earth--Glorious th'Assembled Fires--Raptures on Madrigals of Gesualdo--oriental flavor of Jacob's music gradually lessens--use of American material in his music: Phases of the Great Land--Charles Ives.

 

Side e                                                                                                                                 pp. 57-77

 

Symphony orchestra in the twentieth century--importance of the youth orchestra movement--1994 tour in Germany--dual life as a conductor and a composer--commissioning of works by Lees, Diamond, Ward, Bergsma, Petrassi--influence of Aaron Copland: Evocations--playing his music for Copland--conducting Copland's In the Beginning--Copland's week in Portland--synthesis of Chinese and Western elements--second movement of his father Aaron's Piano Concerto: version for Chinese instruments--influence of Chinese music on Aaron's and Jacob's music--problems of combining Chinese and Western instruments--work at Oppenheimer Casing Company.

Additional material about this interviewee may be available. For more information on the contents of the collection, email oham@yale.edu.