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Morning Concert:
The Music of Ben Johnston

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 126 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: KPFA

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American composer Benjamin Burwell Johnston was born March 15, 1926 in Macon, GA. Living briefly in Berkeley, CA, in 1950, he was associated with Harry Partch and studied at the University of California and Mills College. From 1951 to 1983 he taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this program, recorded in 1981, Johnston is interviewed by Charles Amirkhanian about his career, compositions, and influences. A composer fundamentally partial to microtones, Johnston discusses his discovery of just intonation, initiated by his contact with composer Partch. Heard during this program is a selection of Johnston’s microtonal music, including his string quartet built around the theme of “Amazing Grace” and his “Suite for Microtonal Music”, as well as his “Knocking Piece” in which two performers rap upon the interior and exterior of a grand piano. (from KPFA Folio)

Part 1 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  String Quartet No. 4 “Ascent” (Amazing Grace) (1973) (11:26) / Ben Johnston -- Two Sonnets of Shakespeare: What Potions Have I Drunk ; Sweet Love Renew Thy Force (1978) (10:00) / Ben Johnston -- Study in an Ancient Phrygian Scale (1946) (1:10) / Harry Partch -- Study in the Ancient Greek Enharmonic Scale (1946) (1:54) / Harry Partch
Performers:  Fine Arts Quartet (Quartet)
Philip Larson, bass-baritone (Sonnets)
SONOR Ensemble (Sonnets)
Bernard Rands, conductor (Sonnets)
Harry Partch, harmonic canon (Scales)
Ben Johnston, bass marimba (Scales)
Genres:  20th Century Classical; Microtonal Music
Subject:  Johnston, Ben; Partch, Harry, 1901-1974; 20th century classical; Microtonal music; Just intonation; Musical intervals and scales; String quartets; Songs (Low voice) with instrumental ensemble; Harmonic canon and marimba music
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Johnston, Ben; Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616; Larson, Philip; Rands, Bernard; Partch, Harry, 1901-1974
Recording Date:  10/17/1981
First Broadcast Date:  12/11/1981
 
Part 2 of 2:  
Musical Selections:  Visions and Spels [a realization of the indeterminate composition “Vigil,” text by Jerome Rothenberg] (1976) (27:14) / Ben Johnston -- Suite for Microtonal Piano: Alarm ; Blues ; Etude ; Song ; Toccata (1978) (17:24) / Ben Johnston -- Knocking Piece, for piano interior (1962) (6:53) / Ben Johnston
Performers:  New Verbal Workshop (Visions)
Norma Marder, voice (Visions)
Joan Korb, voice (Visions)
Fred Simon, voice (Visions)
Theo Ann Brown, voice (Visions)
Ben Johnston, voice (Visions)
Herbert Marder, voice, conductor (Visions)
John Rinehart, piano (Suite)
Allen Otte, percussion on piano (Knocking)
Michael Udow, percussion on piano (Knocking)
Genres:  20th Century Classical; Microtonal Music
Subject:  Johnston, Ben; 20th century classical; Microtonal music; Vocal sextets with percussion; Improvisation (Music); Suites (Piano); Percussion ensembles
People:  Amirkhanian, Charles; Johnston, Ben; Rothenberg, Jerome, 1931-; Marder, Norma; Korb, Joan; Simon, Fred; Brown, Theodora Ann; Marder, Herbert; Rands, Bernard; Rinehart, John, 1937-; Otte, Allen; Udow, Michael W. (Michael William)
Recording Date:  12/11/1981
First Broadcast Date:  12/11/1981
 
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