New Works: The Case for Conservatism

Howard Hanson is a musical conservative who has probably done more than any other American composer to promote new and experimental music. For 40 years, before his retirement in 1964 as director of the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music, he supervised the premières of nearly 2,000 pieces by more than 700-odd U.S. composers. Many of these compositions were in a harshly dissonant, far-out style for which Hanson himself had little liking. Nevertheless, he insisted, "Well-knit music that sounds like hell is still competent musicianship and deserves a hearing."

Hanson was content to make the case for conservatism in his...

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