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SAN FRANCISCO PERIOD WORKS

   The two works in the present volume from Harrison’s San Francisco years illustrate his compositional language during the 1930s as well as the themes and genres that most attracted his attention. France 1917–Spain 1937 is one of several political works from this period—and the only one not associated with dance or a sung text. Tributes to Charon is one of Harrison’s many pieces for percussion ensemble, a genre he was able to realize in performance with friends and colleagues. Despite the differences in instrumentation, both compositions show the influence of Henry Cowell’s teaching in their distinctive treatment of short melodic and rhythmic motives. "Henry taught me how to make large melodies out of very small mosaic units," Harrison recalls; "The technique has been with me for so long now that it has become a subconscious activity."39

France 1917–Spain 1937

France 1917–Spain 1937 (for string quartet and two percussionists) was not Harrison’s first political composition. That distinction belongs to Waterfront–1934 (composed in late 1935 or early 1936), a work for solo percussion stimulated by a request from the dancer-choreographer Carol Beals. In 1934 Beals and her husband, Mervin Levy (later Leeds)40 founded the Dance Council of Northern California, which two years later represented twenty groups and over a hundred dancers and heralded its mission in decidedly political terms: "For unity in defense of culture; for the rights of artists to be paid for the work they do; for a national arts program."41 Waterfront–1934 commemorated the San Francisco general strike of July 1934, which capped years of labor unrest in the West Coast shipping industry. Street riots in San Francisco, resulting in the deaths of two workers, prompted a general city strike that virtually shut down business activity for three days in July 1934.42 The premiere of the Beals-Harrison production (with Harrison as performer) took place in the boxing ring of the longshoremen’s union headquarters, the composer seated on the floor surrounded by his instruments, and the dancers occasionally swinging out against the ropes above him.
   Harrison’s connections to dance led to several other political works during this period: Changing World (nine choreographers including Harrison, 1937) projected hopes for women’s rights and religious cooperation; Conquest (Lester Horton, 1938) heralded Mexican resistance to Spanish colonialization; 16 to 24 (Horton, 1940) lamented youth alienation; and In Praise of Johnny Appleseed (Beals, 1942) urged ecological attentiveness.    France 1917–Spain 1937, though not composed for dance, was nevertheless an outgrowth of these artistic collaborations, conceived in the overheated social and political climate of the 1930s: the depression and the struggle of artists to find employment, labor unrest and union protests, the rumblings of the Second World War, and the civil war in Spain. In June 1937, when Harrison wrote the sextet, the Spanish civil war was at its height and there was even some reason to hope that the poorly organized Republican forces might overcome Francisco Franco’s Nationalists. Though defeated at Malaga in February 1937, the Republicans had shown signs of recovery: they managed to hold onto Madrid despite a siege by the Nationalists, and to repel attacks in the battles of Jarama and Guadalajara (February and March 1937). But Franco benefited from the active support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, who provided him with tanks, troops, and air power, using Spain as a testing ground for new weapons and tactics. Western democracies, though outraged by Germany’s terror bombing of the city of Guernica in April 1937, responded with little more than indignant protest. The Communist International, on the other hand, had begun organizing International Brigades, including the Lincoln Brigade from the United States, comprised in large part of students. Its members began serving the Republican side in early 1937. Spain, as the battleground for this assortment of European political ideologies, became a focal point for the idealism of American liberals in general and the youth of the country in particular. Harrison and his friends were caught up in the frenzy, raising emergency funds for the Republican forces.
   The composition of France 1917–Spain 1937 was prompted not by any performance opportunity but by Harrison’s own despair over "Spain and its agony,"43 a despair heightened by his intensive studies of California mission music and the works of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish organ masters. He has described his score as "partially Cubist," reflecting the geometric configurations of Spanish architecture and the repetitive melodic patterns in the early keyboard works.44
   The manuscript of France–Spain is preserved in a notebook of compositions from 1937 (see Plate 1). At the bottom of the first page, Harrison neatly penned a quotation from John Milton’s "Sonnet XI":45 "Liberty / For who loves that, must first be wise and good; / But from that mark how far they rove we see / For all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood." Although John Smart’s critical edition of Milton’s sonnets had been published in 1921, Harrison did not own a copy. His source was a nineteenth-century printing without commentary that he had picked up in a used bookstore in San Francisco.46 He was thus unaware that Sonnet XI was Milton’s response to criticism of several of his treatises advocating consensual divorce. (The divorce treatises appeared in 1643–45 and prompted vicious attacks by Milton’s critics; Sonnet XI likely dates from 1646–47, though some scholars have placed it as early as 1645.) Harrison was drawn instead to the political resonance of the poem’s final lines. Indeed some scholars have suggested that Milton may have been referring here not only to divorce but also to another civil war: the English revolution of 1642 which ultimately led to the beheading of Charles I and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.47
   As Harrison’s concern about Spain was linked to his studies of early Spanish organ music, so his interest in Milton was tied to his studies of seventeenth-century English music. This interest in Milton also reflects Harrison’s own ambitions as a poet. In July 1935 he wrote to his mother about conflicting career aspirations in music or poetry: "When [I work] in either art I become absolutely sure that I am on the right track," he told her.48 Several of Harrison’s surviving notebooks are filled with his poetry from the time, some of which has been published in recent years.49
   The composition of France 1917–Spain 1937 out of a series small melodic and rhythmic cells is readily apparent throughout: in the shifting metrical placement of the repeated two-note rhythmic motive that opens the piece, for instance (see full score); in the rearrangement and expansion of the violin’s opening figure (m. 1) when it recurs in the viola in measure 18 (example 1a); or in the transformation of a harmonic pattern in the two violins into a melodic ostinato (example 1b). Despite these melodic relationships, however, the overall effect of the opening A section (mm. 1–44) is primarily rhythmic—a series of angular outbursts that graphically depict the violence of armed struggle.
   The B section (mm. 45–60), added in 1968, features three overlapping ostinati in the viola, cello, and percussion that support an expansive violin melody in parallel twelfths. Mirroring the overall ABA form of the piece, the viola line is cast in an aa9a pattern that is repeated five times (mm. 45–59); simultaneously a related three-measure pattern recurs in the cello (example 2a). The rhythmic variant in the viola’s first statement of the ostinato (m. 45), probably resulted from a copying error, but Harrison decided to retain it. He loves the inadvertent irregularity of the "error," which creates a migrating sixteenth-note figure during the first three measures: "Only the spider goddess can weave perfect webs,"50 he says, citing the character Anansi from African/Ashanti lore. The third ostinato is played on two suspended gongs, their pattern spanning seven beats and subtly varied at each recurrence through the irregular placement of rests (example 2b). A varied da capo follows, repeating measures 18 through 44.
   The year in which Harrison composed France 1917–Spain 1937 was one of his most productive: twenty-eight complete works survive from 1937 and numerous incomplete or undated compositions can be traced to the same period. His notebook containing the autograph score51 is filled with a diverse assortment of pieces, among them two sarabandes (the first of which was published in the New Music Quarterly the following year); a Passacaglia that he revised repeatedly during the next ten years and finally discarded in 1995;52 two movements of a piano sonata using strict twelve-tone serial procedures; an incomplete dance for the choreographer Lenore Peters Job; and the beginnings of a symphonic work.53 France– Spain, clearly dated June 16, 1937, appears midway through the notebook, though Harrison did not use the pages in sequential order. (Ritual #4, dated September 13, for instance, is found several pages earlier.) This unsystematic procedure also characterizes Harrison’s other notebooks; in his enthusiasm, he often opened randomly to an empty page.54
   Although the notebook version of France 1917–Spain 1937 is complete in itself, it comprises only the first section of the work’s final version (up to measure 44 in the present edition, without the final eighth note in the viola). For the premiere in 1968 Harrison decided to expand the piece, using his early version as the A section of a longer composition. He made several minor corrections at this time (adding an ostinato figure in one measure where it was lacking, for example, and transposing a repeated three-note motive in the cello up a half step), and he added an abbreviated da capo, thus making the work nearly twice as long as the original.55
   Following France 1917–Spain 1937 in Harrison’s 1937 notebook is a companion work—an untitled, but complete, short score for strings composed the day after France–Spain and bearing an identical tempo marking: "Allegro moderato." From the middle of this neighboring piece Harrison borrowed the source material for his new B section: the ostinato figure in the viola and cello lines, and the rudiments of the violins’ melodic line. Like France–Spain, the early companion piece bears a quote at the bottom of its first page, here taken from Isadora Duncan’s autobiography My Life (1927): "Where is the truth? God knows, or the Devil knows—but I suspect they are both puzzled."
   While Harrison’s concerns with "liberty" (Milton) and "truth" (Duncan) were stimulated primarily by the civil war in Spain, they may also have been related to his distress over a personal crisis: the imprisonment of his mentor Henry Cowell, who had been sent to San Quentin the previous year for illegal sexual activity.56 During Cowell’s four years in prison, Harrison visited often and found some small comfort in their discussions of musical matters through prison bars. One such visit can be documented on March 17, 1937, only a few months before the compositions under discussion were written.57
   The premiere of France 1917–Spain 1937 took place thirty-one years after its conception at a Cabrillo Music Festival concert of "Peace Pieces" on August 17, 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War. Drawing a parallel between Vietnam and earlier nationalist struggles, Harrison revived his 1937 tribute to Spain, which was programmed along with five other Harrison compositions: Peace Piece 1, a setting of the Buddhist Metta Sutta and dedicated to Martin Luther King; Peace Piece 2, a dramatic recitative with a virulent anti-war text by Robert Duncan; Peace Piece 3, a tiny anti-bomb song with a text by Harrison; Nova Odo, which condemns nuclear war but ends with a vision of hope; and the anti-bomb movement from Pacifika Rondo. Peace Piece 2, a no-holds-barred condemnation of the Johnson administration, elicited a protest "boo" from a member of the audience, which in turn prompted a vociferous supportive counter-reaction from most of the others.58 The incident was reported (with screaming headlines) on the arts pages of all the daily newspapers in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas.59 The entire set of pieces, lasting forty-seven minutes, concluded with a reprise of the gentle Peace Piece 1 and was greeted by a "five-minute standing ovation."

Tributes to Charon

The trio Tributes to Charon stands as a fine example of Harrison’s pioneering work with the percussion ensemble during the 1930s, and shows as well the genre’s continuing influence on him in later years. One movement ("Counterdance in the Spring") was completed in 1939, prompted by a request from John Cage; the other was not written until 1982, though Harrison envisioned its form and instrumentation from the start. Although the entire piece is only seven minutes in length, Tributes clearly demonstrates Harrison’s interests in timbral variety, motivic transformation, and formal coherence. Working within the confines of a small ensemble and writing (in the case of the earlier movement) for a group of mostly non-professional instrumentalists, he was nevertheless able to achieve technical virtuosity and a successful coupling of dynamism and melodicism. Although the work was not composed for dance, the kinetic influence of Harrison’s dance training on "Counterdance in the Spring" is unmistakable; in fact, this movement has been performed most frequently as the accompaniment for a choreography by Jean Erdman.
   When John Cage, hungry for employment, appeared at Harrison’s San Francisco apartment in 1938, Harrison helped him with the energy and generosity that would so often characterize his interpersonal relationships. Through Harrison’s connections in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cage soon found himself with not one, but several job offers. He chose a faculty position at Seattle’s Cornish School because Bonnie Bird, the school’s modern dance instructor, described to him a closet full of percussion instruments.60 Bird thereby reinforced Cage’s experiences of the previous three years: the most enthusiastic reception for the percussion music he had been writing since 1935 came not from musicians but from dancers. No sooner did Cage arrive in Seattle than he organized an ensemble of amateur percussionists, ultimately including both musicians and non-musicians.61 On their first concert (December 9, 1938) he programmed his own Quartet (1935) and Trio (1936), as well as works Cowell had published in the New Music Orchestra Series in 1936 by Ray Green, William Russell, and Gerald Strang.62
   Meanwhile Harrison was following a parallel path in the Bay Area, composing and performing for Tina Flade (1937–38) and Marian Van Tuyl (after fall 1938) in his position as staff accompanist for the dance program at Mills College. Harrison maintained his own percussion collection, often using the instruments in combination with more traditional ones, typically piano and recorder.63
   For the second percussion concert at the Cornish School (May 19, 1939), Cage decided to solicit works from composers around the country, among them Cowell, Harrison, and Virgil Thomson.64 Harrison sent two pieces: Fifth Simfony (a three-movement quartet composed between February 22 and March 8, 1939) and Counterdance in the Spring (the single-movement trio that years later became the second movement of Tributes to Charon). Other composers responded as well. Cowell sent Pulse, which Cage programmed along with March Suite, Studies in Cuban Rhythms, and Waltz and Fox Trot by William Russell; Three Movements by Johanna Beyer (another Cowell disciple); the two Harrison pieces; and his own Trio.65 In a letter postmarked April 20, Cage told Harrison that the Simfony was "coming into shape" and that he anxiously awaited the companion movement for Counterdance, which Harrison had apparently promised. Harrison already had a title for it, "Passage through Darkness," and envisioned the prominent use of alarm clocks.66 The two movements were to be linked under the title Tributes to Charon. (Charon is the mythological boatman of Hades, who rows dead souls across the River Styx.) Harrison’s intention was to illustrate the fate of Proserpine, who was kidnapped by Pluto, god of the underworld, to be his wife. Proserpine’s mother, Ceres, pleaded with Jupiter for her daughter’s return, but he could only accede to her request on the condition that Proserpine had not eaten since arriving in the underworld. Unfortunately, she had sucked the juice of a pomegranate (given to her by Pluto), thus precluding her release. Through a compromise, however, Proserpine was allowed to spend half the year in the underworld with her husband ("Passage through Darkness") and the other half of the year in the upper world with her mother ("Counterdance in the Spring").
   Despite Harrison’s plans, the opening movement for Tributes did not progress past the conceptual stage until 1982, when he finally composed it for percussionist William Winant—using both his original title and the alarm clocks. Winant was then a graduate student at Mills College and Harrison, after a hiatus of forty years, had returned to the college’s faculty, this time as a composer rather than a dance accompanist. The new composition resulted from Winant’s request for works to be performed on a sixty-fifth birthday tribute to Harrison at Mills. For this concert, the two movements were at last joined as Tributes to Charon.
   In 1939, however, Cage had only the single-movement Counterdance in the Spring. "Your Counterdance is excellent," he wrote to Harrison in April 1939 shortly before its premiere.67 Cage found the piece so successful that he performed it on several future concerts as well. The Cage Percussion Players (John Cage and his wife Xenia, eurythmics instructor Doris Dennison, and pianist Margaret Jansen) repeated the piece on a tour to the University of Idaho, the University of Montana, and Reed College in January and February of 1940; Cage also programmed it at the 1939 Mills College summer session and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York on February 7, 1943.68
   It was the MOMA program that led to the choreography of the Counterdance by Jean Erdman, whom Cage met shortly after his arrival in New York. Erdman, wife of the writer Joseph Campbell, was a protegé of Martha Graham as well as a member of her company. Campbell had met Cage’s wife Xenia ten years earlier when he lived in Carmel and was part of a social circle that included two of Xenia’s sisters and the author John Steinbeck.69 After John and Xenia Cage arrived in New York in the summer of 1942, Campbell and Erdman graciously offered them housing while the Cages sought their own lodgings.
   Cage, who had just come from the Chicago School of Design, arranged for a recital with Erdman and Merce Cunningham dancing at the Arts Club of Chicago on Feb. 14, 1943, one week after his MOMA concert.70 Erdman had developed a new choreography, working independently (and without music) in her studio. Improvising one day after her warm-ups, she found herself entranced with bird-like movements that imitated the traditional dances of Bali. Her composition, Creature on a Journey, developed quickly: "I saw [it] related to the human condition of journeying forward and back, round and round ..." until at last, "triumphant, [the creature] suddenly realizes it has arrived ... in a totally new place," Erdman recalled years later.71 She asked Cage if he would compose music for her new dance, but, busy with his preparations for the MOMA concert, he declined. Instead Cage suggested Harrison’s Counterdance, which Erdman found to be ideal despite (or perhaps because of) its complex cross-rhythms.72 Whether the suggestion was prompted by Erdman’s mention of Bali (which may have reminded Cage of Harrison’s fascination with gamelan music) or whether he merely suspected that Counterdance would be an appropriate length and style for her choreography, Cage thereby initiated what became a rich collaboration between Harrison and Erdman, resulting in several major works in the next decade. Though the two artists did not meet until Harrison came to New York in the summer of 1943, they soon discovered their common interests in Asian musics, polyrhythm, and counterpoint. In future years, Erdman danced Creature on a Journey in performances from Hawaii to India and taught it to several of her most accomplished students.
   "Counterdance in the Spring" is a model of musical economy, built on three motives derived from a single rhythmic idea: a 5/8 pattern [Notation], a 4/8 pattern created by omitting one of the rests [Notation], and a 3/8 pattern derived by rhythmic diminution [Notation], thus preserving the remaining rest. The three motives enter one by one on different instruments, superimposed and repeated until all three end on the same beat (see rehearsal letter A in the full score). Thereafter the motives occur successively in a single part (rehearsal B) or in two parts (five measures after B; and D), stacked in pyramid form (C), interspersed with measures of rest (F), and imitatively (G). The opening section, with its three simultaneous ostinati of different lengths, is reminiscent of Cowell’s Ostinato Pianissimo, composed in 1934 (just before Harrison began to study with him) and premiered on the same New York MOMA concert with Harrison’s Counterdance.73 The coda of Cowell’s work also bears a general similarity to Harrison’s irregularly placed unison strokes that appear first at A and recur periodically, altered in number and temporal spacing (see, for example, two measures before C, three measures before F, and two measures before G).
   In "Passage through Darkness" Harrison devised links to his earlier "Counterdance" while at the same time utilizing techniques he had developed during the intervening forty-three years. Like "Counterdance," "Passage" opens with a unit of five, but here it is disguised (five measures of five beats in the alarm clocks, which is not perceptible by the listener except in retrospect), followed by five evenly spaced strokes on the suspended cymbal. Units of five, four, and three appear in the second half of the work, in this case not as meters but as "icti"—that is, "strikes" or "attention points"—which are independent of the beat.74 Player 3, in measures 13ff., alternates among a four-ictus group: [Notation], a three-ictus group: [Notation], and a five ictus group: [Notation]. The five- and three-patterns are diminutions of the five cymbal-stroke motive in measures 6–7 and the rhythm in the coils in measures 8–11. Each ictus pattern spans two beats: the four-pattern spread within a quarter-note triplet, the three-pattern dividing the half note in two, and the five-pattern setting up a ratio of 5:4.
   In selecting instrumental timbres for his percussion works, Harrison aims for a sonic balance between high and low, "wet" and "dry," sustained and clipped. In "Passage through Darkness," however, he placed particular emphasis on sustained timbres, enhanced by the alarm clocks, which complement the suspended cymbals, gongs, and bells. Players turn the clocks on and off on cue and create crescendi and decrescendi by gradually covering or uncovering them. (Alternatively, performers can use pairs of traditional bells, struck rapidly and alternately, to simulate the alarm.)
   Compositions like Tributes to Charon—especially its "Counterdance" movement built from the kaleidoscopic rearrangement of small musical cells—have given rise to frequent comments by reviewers that Harrison’s music foreshadowed the minimalist compositions of Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. But while some aspects of Harrison’s works resemble later minimalist techniques, his aesthetic is decidedly different. Harrison’s limitation of rhythmic motives in the "Counterdance" functions as one of his many compositional controls, which he uses as scaffolding upon which to build large-scale forms that unfold in extended, coherent sections featuring dynamic momentum leading to points of structural climax. Such an aesthetic contrasts sharply with that of Glass, for example, where motivic repetition is used to draw the listener’s attention away from the surface into a meditative state in which change occurs in slow motion.
   Harrison’s early percussion music—of which "Counterdance in the Spring" is a compelling example—features a sense organic development lacking in much of the music of his contemporaries, a trait noted by many reviewers of the time: "There were no vital and powerful rhythms, no great contrasts, and mainly no organic growth in any of the pieces," wrote Jacob Avshalomoff, who reviewed Cage’s Reed College concert in February 1940, "excepting Harrison’s ‘Counterdance in the Spring.’"75
   Cage apparently found this work among the most convincing of Harrison’s percussion compositions, judging from the number of times he programmed it; and Erdman found its kinesthesis irresistible. When William Winant requested a new percussion piece in 1982, "Counterdance" was the work Harrison chose to revitalize (and finally finish). Among the hundreds of compositions lying partially or fully completed in his many notebooks, the potential of this short dance most attracted his attention, urging him to add the prelude he had envisioned in his youth.


EXAMPLE 1. France 1917–Spain 1937, manipulation of melodic cells in Section A
a. violin 1, m. 1 viola, m. 18
b. violins 1 & 2, mm. 10–11 violin 2, mm. 35–36


EXAMPLE 2. France 1917–Spain 1937, ostinati in Section B
a. viola, mm. 45–59
cello, mm. 45–59
b. gongs, mm. 46–47
mm. 47–49
mm. 49–51
mm. 51–52

   39 Harrison, interview, May 20, 1995.
   40 According to Beals, the name was changed to Leeds out of fear of anti-Semitism. Carol Beals, interview, June 11, 1996.
   41 Advertisement for membership in the Dance Council printed in the 1937 festival program.
   42 For information on the strike, see Mike Quin, The Big Strike (Olema, California: Olema Publishing Company, 1949); San Francisco: the Bay and its Cities, compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in Northern California (New York: Hastings House, 1947); and Felix Riesenberg, Jr., Golden Gate: The Story of San Francisco Harbor (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1940).
   43 Harrison, personal communication, July 7, 1997. The reference to France in the work’s title alludes to the end of World War I. When the work was first performed in 1968, it was given an additional title, About the Spanish War, since the events in Spain were no longer current. This title has not been retained in this edition.
   44 Harrison, personal communication, July 7, 1997.
   45 In some sources, the sonnet is numbered XII, following the order of the 1673 print. For the pros and cons of the alternate numbering, see E. A. J. Honigmann, ed., Milton’s Sonnets (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1966).
   46 John Milton, Poetical Works with a Sketch of His Life (New York, Hurst and Company, n.d.).
   47 See, for example, John Smart’s discussion of the sonnet (The Sonnets of Milton, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 56–60.
   48 Letter, Lou Harrison to Calline Harrison, July 15, 1935, from Harrison’s personal papers.
   49 The largest collection is Joys and Perplexities: Selected Poems of Lou Harrison (Winston-Salem, N.C.: The Jargon Society, the University Library (UCSC), and the Cabrillo Music Festival, 1992).
   50 Harrison, personal communication, July 27, 1997.
   51 A spiral-bound manuscript book with an address on Willard St. in San Francisco where Harrison lived at the time in a "commune"-type arrangement with college friends.
   52 The Passacaglia found its way, after several revisions, into the First Suite for Strings, movement three (1948), but was abandoned when Harrison revised the work for the third time and renamed it New First Suite for Strings in 1995.
   53 Titled Symphony #1, the work is a short score for orchestra with one movement only, headed "Slow."
   54 Harrison, personal communication, 1997.
   55 The 1968 version was published in Soundings 3/4, 1972.
   56 Cowell was charged with one count of oral copulation, the specific case involving a 17-year-old boy. For a detailed account, see Michael Hicks, "The Imprisonment of Henry Cowell," Journal of the American Musicological Society 44:1 (Spring 1991): 92–119.
   57 Prison visitation slip, Special Collections, University of California, Santa Cruz.
   58 The performance (with the audience reaction) can be heard on the compact disc included in Miller and Lieberman, Lou Harrison.
   59 Paul Hertelendy, "Festival Recital Stirs Storm," Oakland Tribune, Aug. 19, 1968; Bob Levy, "‘Texas Barbecue of Asia...,’" Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, Aug. 23, 1968; "Discord at Music Festival: ‘Peace Pieces’ Verse Booed," San Jose Mercury, Aug. 19, 1968; Dale Jarvis, "Harrison’s ‘Peace Pieces’ Draws Cheers," Santa Cruz Sentinel, Aug. 19, 1968; Robert Commanday, "Harrison ‘Peace Pieces’ Stir Cabrillo Festival," San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 20, 1968; Arthur Bloomfield, "Doves Win Music Festival Decibel Poll," San Francisco Examiner, August 20, 1968.
   60 Videotape of Cage/Harrison panel, Cornish School, 1992. Cage also mentions the percussion collection at Cornish (but less colorfully) in "A Composer’s Confessions," Musicworks 52 (Spring 1992): 10. See also my forthcoming article "Cultural Intersections: John Cage in Seattle."
   61 Among the members of Cage’s ensemble over the years were Xenia Cage, his wife; Doris Dennison, an instructor of eurythmics first at Cornish and later at Mills College; the pianist Margaret Jansen; and the future musicologist, Imogene Horsley.
   62 The New Music Orchestra Series, no. 18 (1936), contained these works: Johanna Beyer, IV; Harold Davidson, Auto Accident; Ray Green, Three Inventories of Casey Jones; Doris Humphrey, Dance Rhythms; William Russell, Three Dance Movements; and Gerald Strang, Percussion Music.
   63 Examples include Changing World (1937: two pianos or piano four-hands, percussion, recorder, and voice); Conquest (piano, conch shell, percussion, and probably recorder, though it might have been ocarina or flute); and Processional from the Choephoroe of Aeschylus (1939 or 1940: recorder and percussion).
   64 The letter to Thomson is quoted in Anthony Tommasini, Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle (New York: Norton, 1997), 363. Thomson never responded.
   65 Russell’s Waltz and Fox Trot are part of his Three Dance Movements, which he expanded to four in 1990 by adding a tango for a concert in New York in honor of his 85th birthday. For information on Pulse, see William Lichtenwanger, The Music of Henry Cowell: A Descriptive Catalog (New York: Institute for Studies in American Music, 1986), 168 (no. 565). Lichtenwanger’s information about the companion piece, Return, however, may not be correct. He indicates that the piece is undated but that it was "paired with Pulse" on the May 19 concert. Return does not appear on the printed program for May 19, but was performed on the third Cornish concert (Dec. 9, 1939), as was Pulse.
   66 Harrison, personal communication, 1997.
   67 Letter, Cage to Harrison, postmarked April 20, 1939 (UCSC Special Collections).
   68 For details see Miller, "The Art of Noise." David Revill (The Roaring Silence. John Cage: A Life [New York: Arcade, 1992]) erroneously gives the year of Cage’s 1940 tour as 1939. The concert dates were: July 27, 1939, Mills College; January 8, 1940, University of Idaho (Moscow); January 9, 1940, University of Montana (Missoula); February 14, 1940, Reed College (Portland). The tour also included a January 11 concert at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, but I have not been able to locate the program. Documents in the scrapbook compiled by Cage’s mother located at the John Cage Archive at Northwestern University are confusing; some documents are placed out of chronological order and some reviews are coupled with headlines from wrong publications.
   69 See Stephen and Robin Larsen, A Fire in the Mind: The Life of Joseph Campbell (New York: Doubleday, 1991).
   70 Thanks to David Vaughan, archivist for the Merce Cunningham Foundation, for providing the program of the Chicago performance.
   71 Erdman, Introduction to Creature on a Journey, on her video "Dance and Myth: The World of Jean Erdman."
   72 Erdman, "Dance and Myth," claims that she did not have to change anything in her choreography to fit the music, a statement that rather strains credulity. She repeatedly said the same to her students (I have discussed the matter at some length with several of them). Perhaps Erdman was pleasantly surprised by the minimal number of changes needed and her account became exaggerated over the years.
   73 For a detailed discussion and analysis of this work, see H. Wiley Hitchcock, "Henry Cowell’s Ostinato Pianissimo," Musical Quarterly 70:1 (Winter 1984): 23–44.
   74 For Harrison’s discussion of "icti," see his Music Primer, 101.
   75 Jacob Avshalomoff, "Cage Percussion Players ... A Review," Reed College Quest, February 16, 1940, n.n.
 

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