Re: Best American Composer.

Frank Forman (
11 Apr 1995 22:55:06 GMT

I pick David Warren Brubeck. Not his attempts to write classical
music in his oratorios, but his jazz. He was classically trained and
he's the only jazz musician I have even been able to appreciate, though
I've asked jazz buffs to recommend jazz musicians classical music lovers
might like and have tried out several. None came up to Brubeck, by my
tastes. Maybe it's because Brubeck's pieces sound very well constructed,
which is what classical music is all about.
America is a commercial nation, not an artistic nation, and our
arts have generally been copies of European arts. I do like American
painting, in its cheerfulness and optimistic "sense of life", to use Ayn
Rand's term. We just don't have the European ability to *suffer*.
(Oddly, my favorite American painter is Edward Hopper.)
But I have never been able to appreciate much of our classical
music. It is string quartets that I love most, and I do like the two of
Charles Ives and one of Samuel Barber. I certainly enjoy them whenever I
hear them, but I haven't played them in years. Those three, I think, are
my favorite American classical works.
The other great non-classical American composer that I can
appreciate is John Philip Sousa. It's tough to write a great
military march ("music for the feet, not for the head"), and Sousa wrote
half of the great ones, though an Englishman, K.J. Alford, wrote the
greatest of them all, "Colonel Bogey." Wonderful counterpoint in the
trio section in that one!