Piston’s Harmonies

For certain generations of musicians, the words “Piston Harmony” were synonymous with the study of tonal harmony because composer Walter Piston‘s textbook dominated the field. That’s no longer the case, and I should not be surprised when grad students don’t even recognize the composer’s name, either for the textbook, or for his role as one of the more important American composers of the mid-20th century. Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will address the neglect of Piston’s music with an all-Piston concert at Carnegie on March 29. There will be two symphonies, the 2nd and 4th, and two concerted works, with superb soloists: Miranda Cuckson will play the Violin Concerto #1 and Blair McMillen plays the Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra. Do check out the “Dialogues and Extensions” on the concert page linked above – there are worthwhile essays on Piston by Maestro Botstein and Carol Oja. Many more essays related to ASO concerts here. A Mark DeVoto talk on Piston here.

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