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New Music America:
1981: Tapes of Studies for Player Piano by Conlon Nancarrow

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 37 min
Event Type: Music Program Origin: KPFA

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The second Act of the June 12th concert of the 1981 New Music America Festival was devoted to the music of Conlon Nancarrow, who specialized in composing for the player piano. However unlike the ragtime player piano music that many people are familiar with, Nancarrow’s works are distinguished by their immense mathematical complexity and remarkable speed. In some ways they are not unlike a Bach fugue or canon played at speeds that were impossible to imagine before the advent of the computer. Impossible that is, unless you were Conlon Nancarrow, who was perhaps the only person to recognize the unique potential of the player piano to produce such challenging new music. This concert is particularly noteworthy because Nancarrow was in the audience, on his first trip back to the United States after over 30 years of living in Mexico City, where he had moved to after facing persecution for his communist sympathies and involvement in the Spanish Civil War in the early 1930s. Due to the fact that Nancarrow composed for his own player piano which he had modified in order to get a crisper sound, an instrument that was too large to bring on the plane, this concert presented tapes of his studies played over loudspeakers.

Musical Selections:  Studies No. 21 “Canon X” (2:49) -- Study No. 10 (3:05) -- Study No. 36 (4:00) -- Study No. 25 (5:35) -- Study No. 12 (4:15) -- Study No. 40b (4:24)
Genres:  New Music; Mechanical Music
Subject:  New music; Player piano music
People:  Nancarrow, Conlon, 1912-1997
Recording Date:  6/12/1981
First Broadcast Date:  6/12/1981
 
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