PAUL CRESTON - A
compiled by Monica J Slomski
Published by Greenwood Publishing Group
No.55 in the Bio-Bibliographies series
(full details and ordering specifics
Greenwood's bio-bibliographies are one of the glories of music publishing.
The house specialises in the less-fêted composers and valuably fills
gaps in the world's bookshelves. Greenwood do it with style and eminent
The book is robustly case-bound in darkened denim blue and produced on
substantial grade high quality matte paper which is a pleasure to read. The
font size is smaller than ideal though still comfortably legible. There is
no dust-wrapper but the tough no-nonsense hardback with a gold outlined panel
identifying composer and author (on the cover and spine) gives every indication
of lasting for many a decade.
The bio-bibliography series follows a fairly common pattern: biography, list
of works and notable performances, discography, bibliography, alphabetical
and chronological lists of works - all thoroughly indexed.
Paul Creston was a twentieth century romantic in whose musical temperament
met an altogether masculine panache and a more relaxed Delian - almost
pre-Raphaelite tendency. The panache was often expressed through dance. Dance
titles are not uncommon among his 151 compositions. The languorous tendency
can be heard in all of them. It takes the gales out of his sails in the
symphonies and for some the contrast between high summer drowsing and the
charge of wintry chilliness can be too much to accept. The contemplative
dionysian strain is evident from fellow Americans Edward Burlingame Hill,
Griffes and Sowerby. The high voltage dynamism charges out at you from the
pages of William Schuman, Leonard Bernstein and Peter Mennin.
Creston's many symphonic works are of enduring worth. The symphonies 2 and
3 have lived on because of the Westminster LP (Howard Mitchell conducting)
and now continue with the Naxos CD (Theodor Kuchar conducting the Ukraine
orchestra). However going by an archive recording of No. 1 this too is a
major discovery. The two violin concertos are brief (20 mins or so) but they
have much the same unleashed calorific and melodic value as the two Pistons
(recorded by Naxos). James Buswell, who did brilliantly with Pistons, is
a natural to record the Creston concertos. Creston's Sadhana is a
passionate cello and orchestra piece written in his final years and this
too richly merits a recording. It would go well with the fiddle concertos.
Creston is such a varied composer with an acute eye for opportunity. His
concert pieces for marimba and accordion are testimony to a nice judgement
as well as a real creative impulse.
Ms Shomski's industry is evident. She soundly delivers thorough worklists
and what amounts to a directory of sources. This librarian's attention to
detail has its virtues but a juicy richness is added by Shomski's 13 page
biography based on interviews with Creston, published sources and family
archives. Browsing among the long list of published sources brings its own
revelations and perspectives. Each entry, besides giving title of volume
and article, page number, dates and author etc gives a thumbnail sketch of
the content of the review and often a quotation. The heavy peppering of press
references, culled by the composer from a cuttings agency, presented Shomski
with some difficulties as page numbers and dates were sometimes omitted (poor
service from any such agency). These have however been reconstituted from
Ms Shomski's own no doubt arduous) research.
This is an extremely attractive volume and is THE companion for anyone setting
out on the exciting pilgrimage through Creston's works.
ISBN 0 313 25336 6
Publ November 1994
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FROM GREENWOOD WEBSITE
Compiled by Monica J. Slomski
No. 55 (ISSN: 0742-6968)
Greenwood Press. Westport, Conn. 1994. 232 pages
LC 94-31649. ISBN 0-313-25336-6. SKP/ $65.00 (Reference Book)
** Description **
Although born Giuseppe Guttovergi to a poor, immigrant Italian family, it
was as Paul Creston that Giuseppe rose to prominence, becoming one of the
most widely performed American composers. Rhythm was a continued subject
of research for this composer, and by 1945 he had established a terminology
of rhythmic structures, which he observed both in his music and the music
of other composers, even writing two books on the subject. This volume presents
for the first time a complete descriptive account of the life of the composer,
as well as access to currently available materials by and about him.
** Table of Contents **
-- Works and Performances
-- Appendix I: Alphabetical Listing of Compositions
-- Appendix II: Chronological Listing of Compositions
** Author **
MONICA J. SLOMSKI is Head of Music Cataloging at the Hartt School of Music,
University of Hartford.