• The “piano technician” and his “unfortunate piano:” Henry Cowell in the machine age

    Author(s):
    Christine Fena (see profile)
    Date:
    2009
    Subject(s):
    Piano music, Musicology, Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965, Nineteen twenties, Pianists, Player piano, Pianola, Reader-response criticism, Art appreciation, Musical criticism
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Society for American Music National Conference
    Conf. Org.:
    Society for American Music
    Conf. Loc.:
    Denver, CO
    Conf. Date:
    March 18-22, 2009
    Tag(s):
    Machine Age
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/a1rt-vh13
    Abstract:
    Despite Cowell’s rural upbringing and connection with California’s central coast, critics of the 1920s were quick to associate the composer-pianist’s “tone cluster” and “string piano” techniques with the noise, monotony, and “unfeeling” technologies of the “machine age” and American metropolis. By positioning the reception of Cowell’s early piano music within the social anxieties of the time, this paper shows how the understanding of Cowell’s performances as “too technical,” as well as the controversy surrounding the “punching” and “pinching” of the piano, reflected society’s difficulty in navigating the tenuous relationships between humans and machines, pianos and pianolas, and past and present.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

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