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Henry Cowell (1897-1965)

Henry Cowell, composerOf all the early-20th-century American musical revolutionaries, it is composer Henry Cowell whose influence was most vivid and far-reaching. Born in 1897, Cowell studied the violin briefly at age five, and began to write his own music by his eleventh birthday. Until he began musical studies with Charles Seeger at the University of California at Berkeley in 1914 Cowell remained a basically self-taught musician (as well as a young man who had never spent so much as a day in school during his life). Free of the often confining attitudes which govern formal musical education, Cowell had come to view any sound as musical substance with which he could work, and his early music owes more to the influence of birdsong, machine noises and folk music than it does to any knowledge of earlier masterworks. However, Seeger felt that without structure and guidelines Cowell would remain an unskilled, if impressively inventive, musician, and he encouraged the young composer to make a rigorous study of traditional harmony and counterpoint. Concert appearances throughout North America and Europe during the 1920s earned Cowell countless friends and enemies throughout the musical establishment. Although he had earned the respect of such luminaries as Bartok and Schoenberg, his concerts frequently caused audience riots and invoked the wrath of critics who wondered if Cowell's headstrong independence disguised a lack of true musical craftsmanship. Later music, such as the "Amerind Suite for piano" (1939) and the "26 Simultaneous Mosaics" (1964) incorporate generous helpings of indeterminacy, though from the 1930s on Cowell's compositional language grew increasingly tonal and rhythmically simple.
-  Blair Johnston, All Music Guide

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Cowell Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
[under construction]

WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Cowell Links     ~ top of page ~
[under construction]
Hymn and Fuging Tunes
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 1, band (1943)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 2, string orchestra (1944)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 3, orchestra (1944)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 4, SAT chorus or 3 recorders or 3 instruments (1945, unpublished)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5, string orchestra or chorus (1945)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 6, piano (1945/1946)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 7, viola and piano (1946)
Hymn, Chorale and Fuguing Tune No. 8, string orchestra (1947)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 9, cello and piano (1950)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 10, oboe and string orchestra (1955)
[Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 11]  [the original work started as H&FT No. 11 turned into: A Thanksgiving Psalm (Lines from the Dead Sea Scrolls), male chorus and orchestra, 1955-56; Cowell never gave the H&FT No. 11 designation to another work]
[- - - Ground and Fuguing Tune, organ, 1955]
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12, 3 horns (1957)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 13, trombone and piano (1960)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 15a, vln and va; or vln and vc; or 2 insts; or 2 voices (1961, unpublished)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 14, organ (1962)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 16, violin and piano (1963; later scored for orchestra)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 15b, violin and cello (1963, unpublished)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 17 (pub. as "Gravely and Vigourously"), solo cello (1963) [in memory of John F. Kennedy]
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 18, soprano sax and contrabasso sax (1964)


Symphony No. 1, b (1915-16, unpublished)
Symphony No. 2, "Anthropos" (1938-39)
Symphony No. 3, "Gaelic" (1942)
Symphony No. 4 (Short Symphony) (1946)
Symphony No. 5 (1948)
Symphony No. 6 (1950-55)
Symphony No. 7 (1952)
Symphony No. 8, "Choral", chorus and orchestra (1952, unpublished)
Symphony No. 9 (1952-53)
Symphony No. 10 (1952-53)
Symphony No. 11, "The Seven Rituals of Music" (1953-54)
Symphony No. 12 (1955-56)
Symphony No. 13, "Madras", tablas, jala-tarang and orchestra (1957-58)
Symphony No. 14 (1959-60)
Symphony No. 15, "Thesis" (1960)
Symphony No. 16, "Icelandic" (1962)
Symphony No. 17. "Lancaster" (1962)
Symphony No. 18 (1964)
Symphony No. 19 (1964)
Symphony No. 20 (1964-65)
Symphony No. 21 (1963-65, incomplete, unpublished)

Vestiges, orchestra, 1914-20
Some Music, orchestra, 1915-16
Some More-Music, orchestra, 1915-16, unpubd
Ensemble, chamber orch, 1925, unpubd, rev. 1928 as Sinfonietta
Polyphonica, chamber orch, 1925
Exultation, string orchestra, 1928
Appositions, string orchestra, 1928, rev. 1932, unpubd
Synchrony, orchestra, 1929-30
Heroic Dance, chamber orch, 1930, unpubd
Competitive Sport, orchestra, 1931, unpubd
Steel and Stone, orchestra, 1931, unpubd
Reel, orchestra, 1933, unpubd
Reel, orchestra, No. 21, 1934, unpubd
Old American Country Set, orchestra, 1937-39
Celtic Set, orch/band, 1938-39
Ancient Desert Drone, orchestra, 1939-40
Pastorale and Fiddler's Delight, orchestra, 1940
American Melting Pot, orchestra, 1940, unpubd
United Music, orchestra, 1943
American Pipers, orchestra, 1943
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 2, string orchestra (1944)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 3, orchestra (1944)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5, string orchestra or chorus (1945)
Big Sing, orchestra, 1946
Festival Ov., 2 orchestras, 1946, unpubd
Hymn, Chorale and Fuguing Tune No. 8, string orchestra (1947)
Saturday Night at the Firehouse, orchestra, 1948
Overture, orchestra, 1949
Rondo, orchestra, 1953
Ballad, string orchestra, 1954 [arr. of slow movt of Vn Sonata]
Variations, orchestra, 1956
Music, orchestra, 1957
Ongaku, orchestra, 1957
Antiphony, divided orchestra, 1958-59
Characters, orchestra, 1959
Chiaroscuro, orchestra, 1960-61
Carol, orchestra, 1965 [arr. of 2nd movt of Koto Conc. No. 1]
Twilight in Texas, orchestra (1966)
The Tender and the Wild, orchestra (1967)

Celtic Set, orch/band, 1938-39
A Curse and a Blessing, band, 1939, 1949 Sym. Set, op. 17, 1938-39
Shoonthree, band/orch, 1939
Shipshape Ov., band, 1940
Festive Occasion, band, 1942, unpubd
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 1, band (1943)
Animal Magic (of the Greenland Eskimo), band, 1944
Grandma's Rhumba, band, 1945
Singing Band, band, 1952

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Irish Suite, pf, chamber orch, 1928, unpubd
Pf Conc., 1929
Rhythmicon Conc. (Rhythmicana), 1931
Tales of our Countryside, pf, orch, 1941
Little Conc. (Conc. piccolo), pf, band/orch, 1941
Suite, pf, str, 1941, unpubd
Air, vn, str, 1952
Fiddler's Jig, vn, str, 1952
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 10, oboe and string orchestra (1955)
Perc Conc., 1958-59
Conc. brevis, accordion, orch, 1961
Variations on Thirds, 2 va, str, 1960
Harmonica Conc., 1960-61
Air and Scherzo, sax, chamber orch, 1961
Duo concertante, fl, harp, orch, 1961
2 koto concs., 1962, 1964-65
Conc. grosso, fi, ob, cl, vc, harp, str, 1963
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 16, vn, orch/pf, 1963
Harp Conc., 1965

Chorus w/Orchestra
Fire and Ice (Frost), TTBB, band, pf, 1943
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 5, chorus or orchestra (1945)
Symphony No. 8, "Choral", chorus and orchestra (1952, unpublished)
... if he please, SATB, orch, 1955
A Thanksgiving Psalm (Lines from the Dead Sea Scrolls), male chorus and orchestra (1955-56)
    [orig. intended as Hymn & Fuguing Tune No. 11]
Edson Hymns and Fuguing Tunes, SSAATB, orch/org, 1960
The Creator, double chorus, orch, 1963-64

The Morning Cometh, S/T, SATB, 1936
The Coming of Light, SSAA, 1937
American Muse, SA, pf, 1943
Sweet Christmas Song, SATB, 1943
The lrish Girl, SATB, pf ad lib, 1944
The Irishman Lilts, SSA, 1944
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 4, SAT chorus or 3 recorders or 3 instruments (1945, unpublished)
The Road Leads into Tomorrow, SATB, 1945
Day, Evening, Night and Morning, 12 Cowen, Frederic Hymen TTBBB, 1946
To America, SATB, 1946
Canon »Air held her breath«, SATB, 1946
The Lily's Lament, SSA, 1947
Luther's Carol for his Son, TTBB, 1947
Do you Doodle as you Dawdle, SATB, pf, drums ad lib, 1948
Evensong at Brookside, TTBBB, 1948
Ballad of the Two Mothers, SSATBB, 1949
Lilting Fancy, SSAA, 1949
Garden Hymn for Easter [folksong arr.], SATB, 1950
Song for a Tree, SSA, 1950
With Choirs Divine, SSA, 1950
Spring at Summer's End, SSA, 1952
Psalm cxxi, SATB, 1953
Granny, Does your Dog Bite? [folksong arr.], SATB, 1955
Septet, SSATB, cl, pf, 1955-56
Sweet was the Song the Virgin Sung, SATB, pf/org, 1958
Supplication, unison vv, org, 2 tpt, 2 trbn, timp, 1961
Ultima actio, SATB, 1964
Edn. of United Nations: Songs of the People, 96 arrs., SATB (New York, 1945)

String Quartet No. 1 »Pedantic«, 1915-16
Quartet Romantic, 2 fi, vn, va, 1915-17
Quartet »Euphometric«, String Quartet, 1916-19
A Composition, ob, cl, bn, hn, pf, String Quartet, 1923
Ensemble, 2 vn, va, 2 vc, 3 thundersticks, 1924
7 Paragraphs, str trio, 1925
Suite, wind qnt, 1931
String Quartet No. 2 (Movt for String Quartet), 1934
Ostinato pianissimo, pf, 4 perc, 1934
String Quartet No. 3 (Mosaic Quartet), 1935
String Quartet No. 4 (United Quartet), 1936
Pulse, 6 perc, 1939
Trickster Coyote, chimes, rec, perc, 1941, unpubd
Action in Brass, 2 tpt, hn, 2 trbn, 1943
Fanfare to our Latin American Allies, brass, perc, 1944
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 4, 3 rec/SAT, 1945, unpubd
Sax Quartet, 1946
Hymn, Chorale and Fuguing Tune No. 8, string quartet or string orchestra (1947)
Tall Tale, 2 tpt, hn, 2 trbn, tuba, 1947
Tune Takes a Trip, 5 cl, 1947
Grinnell Fanfare, org, brass, 1948, unpubd
Sax-happy Quartet, 2 a sax, t sax, bar sax, 1949
Set of Five, vn, pf, perc, 1952
Trio, fi, vn, harp, 1952
Quartet, fi, ob, vc, hpd, 1954, unpubd
3 Pieces, 2 tr rec, a rec, 1955
String Quartet No.5, 1955–56
Ballad, wind qnt, 1956 [arr. of slow movt of Vn Sonata]
Persian Set, pic, cl, tär, drum, pf, 3 vn, vc, db, 1956-57
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 12, 3 horns (1957)
Rondo, 3 tpt, 2 hn, 2 trbn, 1958
Quartet, fi, ob, vc, harp, 1962
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 15, vln and va/vln and vc/2 insts/2 voices (1962, unpublished)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 18, soprano sax and alto sax (1964)
26 Simultaneous Mosaics, cl, perc, pf, vn, vc, 1964
Pf Trio in 9 Short Movts, 1964-65

Solo Instrument
Suite, vn, pf, 1925
3 Ostinati with Chorales, ob, pf, 1937, unpubd
Triad, tpt, pf, 1939
2 Bits, fl, pf, 1941
How Old ja Song (Celestial Vn), vn, pf, 1944
Processional, org, 1944
Sonata No. 1, vn, pf, 1945
Tom Binkley's Tune, bar hn, pf, 1945
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 7, viola and piano (1946)
Set of Two, vn, pf, 1948, unpubd
4 Declamations with Return, vc, pf, 1949, unpubd
Perpetual Rhythm, accordion, 1949, rev. 1960
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 9, cello and piano (1950)
Ground and Fuguing Tune, org, 1955, unpubd
Homage to Iran, vn, pf, 1957
Prelude, org, 1957
Iridescent Rondo in Old Modes, accordion, 1959
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 13, trombone and piano (1960)
Set of Four, hpd, 1960
Air and Scherzo, a sax, pf, 1961
Triple Rondo, fl, harp, 1961
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 14, organ (1962)
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 16, violin and piano/orchestra (1963)

Adventures in Harmony, ?1911, unpubd
The Tides of Manaunaun, 1912
Dynamic Motion, 1914
What's This (First Encore to »Dynamic Motion«), 1914
Advertisement (Third Encore to »Dynamic Motion«), 1914
Anger Dance, 1914
Antimony (Fourth Encore to »Dynamic Motion«), 1914, rev. 1959
Episode, 1916
Amiable Conversation (Second Encore to »Dynamic Motion«), 1917
Fabric, ?1917
Exultation, 1919
Voice of Lir, 1919
Vestiges, 1920
Snows of Fujiyama, 1922
The Hero Sun, 1922
Aeolian Harp, 1923
Harp of Life, 1924
Piece pour piano avec cordes, 1924
The Trumpet of Angus Og, 1924
Lilt of the Reel, 1925
The Banshee, 1925
Tiger, ?1928
Fairy Answer, 1929
Maestoso, 1929
Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 6, piano (1946)

Golden Legend (Longfellow), lv, 1908, unpubd, lost
St Agnes Morning, lv, pf, 1916
Where she Lies, S/T, pf, 1924
Sunset, Rest, Mez/Bar, pf, 1930
Vocalise, 5, fl, pf, 1937
3 Antimodernist Songs (Slonimsky), lv, pf, 1938, unpubd
Toccanta, lv, fl, vc, pf, 1938
How Old is Song?, lv, pf, 1942
The Pasture (Frost), lv, pf, 1945
Daybreak (Blake), B, pf, 1946
The Donkey, S/T, pf, 1946
Spring Comes Singing, lv, pf, 1954
The Little Black Boy, lv, pf, 1954
The Lost Jimmie Whalen [folksong arr.], lv, pf, 1954
High Let the Song Ascend, S/T, fl, pf, 1960
Firelight and Lamp, lv, pf, 1963

COWELL  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
Henry Cowell Musical Autobiography (Other Minds/Internet Archive)
The Joy of Noise (Henry Cowell, Audio Culture, Continuum, Intl' Press,
New Musical Resources (Henry Cowell, Cambridge Univ. Press, books.
Overture to the Schillinger System (1941) (Henry Cowell,
Who is the Greatest Living Composer? (Henry Cowell, Schoenberg & His World, Princeton Univ. Pr.,

A Comparison of Henry Cowell's Rhythmic Concept With Stockhausen's (C. Koenigsberg, Princeton University)
Heady Early Modernism - Chamber Works by Henry Cowell (Ung-aang Talay,
Henry Cowell - An Influential "American Original" (Joan Peyser, The New York Times)
Henry Cowell and the Impact of His First European Tour (Victor Rischitelli, Australian Catholic University)
Henry Cowell at the New York Public Library: A Whole World Of Music (George Boziwick,
Henry Cowell, bohemian (Michael Hicks, Univ. of Illinois Press,
Henry Cowell: Giving Us Permission (Peter Garland, Other Minds)
Henry Cowell Papers, 1851-1994 (The New York Public Library)
Henry Cowell: Piano Music (
List of Solo Piano Compositions by Henry Cowell (@ Wikipedia)
The Mystery of Henry Cowell's Imprisonment Explained (Frank Helfrich,
Playing with the Music of Henry Cowell (Ian Douglas-Moore,
Subversive Prophet: Henry Cowell as Theorist and Critic (Kyle Gann, The Whole World of Music: A Cowell Symposium)
The Whole World of Music (David Nicholls, Routledge,

Cowell @ Wikipedia
Cowell @ 3MusicStore
Cowell @ Arnold Schoenberg Center
Cowell @
Cowell @ Art of the States
Cowell @ Basic Music
Cowell @
Cowell @ Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Cowell @ Classic Cat
Cowell @ Classical Archives
Cowell @ Classical Composers Database
Cowell @ Classical Net
Cowell @ ClassicsToday
Cowell @ Dilettante Music
Cowell @ Dr. Estrella's Incredibly Abridged Dictionary of Composers
Cowell @ Epitonic
Cowell @
Cowell @ Henry Cowell - Piano Music
Cowell @ IRCAM
Cowell @ Karadar Classical Music
Cowell @ Music of the 20th Avant-Garde (Larry Sitsky, Jonathan Kramer, Greenwood Pub.,
Cowell @ MusicWeb International
Cowell @ NationMaster
Cowell @ Naxos
Cowell @ The New York Times
Cowell @ NNDB
Cowell @ REC Music Foundation /The Lied and Art Song Texts Page
Cowell @ G. Schirmer
Cowell @ Slider
Cowell @ University of South Carolina
Cowell @ Warsaw Autumn 2004

Streaming Audio
Cowell @ Art of the States
Cowell @ Classical Music Archives
Cowell @
Cowell @ MySpaceMusic
Cowell @ Other Minds/Internet Archive
Cowell @ Rhapsody
Cowell @ Wikipedia

Cowell @ ArkivMusic
Cowell @ ClassicsOnline
Dancing with Henry @ Mode Records
Henry Cowell: "Mosaic" - a collection of chamber works @ Mode Records

Cowell @ YouTube

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