Piano Quintets



First name: Ernst
Last name: Bacon
Dates: 1898-1990
Category: Quintet
Nationality: American
Opus name: Piano Quintet, based on Shakespeare's "Tempest"
Peculiarities: for the notes: mail@ernstbacon.org
Information: From The New Grove Dictionary of American Music Bacon, Ernst (b. Chicago, IL, 26 May 1898; d. Orinda, CA, 16 Mar 1990). Composer and pianist. He studied at Northwestern University (1915-18), the University of Chicago (1919-20), and the University of California (M.A. 1935) [where his master's thesis was the choral cantata The Song of the Preacher (1935sanitize_seed_d31dxa9c21444gc0gk0s408sw)sanitize_seed_d31dxa9c21444gc0gk0s408sw]sanitize_seed_d31dxa9c21444gc0gk0s408sw. Among his teachers were Alexander Raab and G. D. Dunn (piano), Weigl and Bloch (composition), and Goosens (conducting), under whom he was assistant conductor of the Rochester Opera Company. He taught at the Eastman School (1925-28) and the San Francisco Conservatory (1928-30); in 1935 he instituted and conducted the Carmel Bach Festival in California, and the next year he was supervisor of the WPA Federal Music Project in San Francisco and conductor of its orchestra. Subsequent teaching appointments took him to Converse College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, as dean and professor of piano (1938-45), and to Syracuse University, as director of the school of music and professor (1945-63, professor emeritus from 1964). Among his honors are a Pulitzer Award (1932, for the Symphony in D minor) and two Guggenheim Fellowships. As a composer, Bacon is best known for his songs, which show unusual sensitivity to the color and inflection of words and a masterly use of syncopation to give the impression of natural speech. He preferred short poems with a "certain philosophical undercurrent together with a relatively simple and not-too-involved lyricism" and has been most successful with his settings of texts by Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. He has also made many arrangements of American folk music. Our Musical Idiom (1917), his early study of new harmonies, pointed the direction he was to follow, one close to tradition. Yet his style is individual, finding its own basis in nondiatonic scales, American subjects, and a masterly counterpoint. 22 of his Dickinson songs have been recorded by Helen Boatwright with the composer at the piano. In addition to composing, Bacon performed as a pianist in Europe and the USA, and he had also shown talent as a painter. His published writings include Words on Music (1960) and Notes on the Piano (1963).