#Gatineau; #CanadianHistoryMuseum; #HarbinsonCollection
Gatineau (Quebec)/Canadian-Media: Established in 2014 Canadian History Museum promotes Canadian history as well as civic engagement and mutual respect among Canadians, media reports said.
Canadian History Museum. Image credit: Museum website
Canada became a home to immigrants from France, England, Scotland, Ireland, the United States (more than 50,000 Loyalists fled as a result of the American Revolution), Germany and other parts of Europe. Owing to the large geographical area of Canada over which they were spread and the absence of a strong central governing structure, the individual cultural identities of these settlements from the Atlantic shores to the Great Lakes are maintained and preserved.
Canada’s material history reflects the origins and richness of its earliest settlements. Our objective, as collectors, was to select pieces that could bring this country’s material history to life and illuminate our roots as a country: John and Heather Harbinson
This online exhibition was created by the Canadian Museum of History through the generous support of John and Heather Harbinson.
Heather Harbinson and John Harbinson. Image credit: History of Museum
Assembly of the John and Heather Harbinson Collection was done between 1967 and the 1990s that would lead to exploring and explaining Canada’s roots and the story of our material heritage with threefold criteria: the quality of design; condition and provenance through the record of makers and owners, as well as social context and use.
In the first category of exploration of the Harbinson Collection is Ontario Furniture – York Region and East 14 items are displayed which reflect the cultural roots of the two principal immigrant groups that settled in the York Region in the 1800s.
LibraryOfCongress; #HenryCowell; #JoysOfNoise; #MusicalAdaptations
Washington, Nov 19 (Canadian-Media): The Music Division has recently published a finding aid that brings together many of the Henry Cowell music manuscripts held at the Library of Congress, revealing a wealth of holograph scores spanning his entire compositional career, Library of Congress reports said.
The following is a guest post from Archives Processing Technician, Emily Baumgart.
Cowell’s musical aesthetic changed throughout his life from ultra modernism in the 1920s and 1930s to open form and the use of folk-inspired elements in the post-war period. His scoring likewise ranges from the traditional, with string quartets and choral music, to the unexpected, such as his Concerto for Koto and his works for string piano. It is this experimental side that Cowell is most famous for, and the Cowell manuscripts held by the Music Division demonstrate his prolific avant-garde output.
Henry Cowell, composer. Adventures in Harmony, chapter III. circa 1913. Call number ML96 .C823 (Case), Music Division. Image credit: Library of Congress
One of Cowell’s earliest pianistic innovations was the tone cluster technique, in which the performer plays groups of notes with their fist or entire forearm. Although there is some confusion surrounding dates, the earliest work to include tone clusters is generally considered to be Adventures in Harmony from around 1913, composed when Cowell was in his mid-teens. This work consists of several “chapters” forming a sort of catalog of different compositional techniques, designed as a gift for his piano teacher, Ellen Veblen. The tone clusters first appear in the third chapter of Adventures in Harmony where Cowell uses them mostly for color: they are meant to decorate an otherwise mostly diatonic work, and in this earliest iteration Cowell’s original attempt at transcribing this sound is somewhat unwieldy, with each specific note written out on the staff. Further experiments brought these tone clusters to the fore, as in Dynamic Motion (1916), ranging from small clusters of a few notes to wide swaths of the keyboard as the pianist plays with both forearms. The work even includes arpeggiated clusters, performed by tilting the forearm across the keys. Cowell’s score shows a more sophisticated, simpler representation for the technique that specifies only a lower and upper bound for the cluster; not only was Cowell experimenting with the musical elements themselves, but also a way to properly notate those sounds. Later on, Cowell adapted the idea of tone clusters to other instruments; they are especially prominent in both the solo piano and orchestral accompaniment of the Concerto for Piano (1928).
Henry Cowell, composer. Dynamic Motion, 1916. Call number ML96 .C823 (Case), Music Division. Image credit: Library of Congress
Henry Cowell, composer. The Banshee, 1925. Call number ML96 .C823 (Case), Music Division. Image credit: Library of Congress
Cowell’s other big experimental piano approach was what he termed the string piano. To be clear, this is not any kind of new instrument, but a new way of playing an old instrument: instead of playing on the piano keys, the performer in these works plays on the strings inside the piano. The techniques can range from the gentle strumming and glissandi of Aeolian Harp (1923) that seeks to mimic the pastoral sounds of a harp, to the harsh, eerie scrapes, slides, and plucks of The Banshee (1925). It is this second work that is Cowell’s most famous string piano composition, and the Library of Congress holds an early holograph of the score. Like the tone clusters, Cowell had to develop notation for this new style of performance, as seen in the letters A-L associated with the typical staff notation. Each letter specifies a different performance technique, including which part of the hand or finger to use, which direction to slide, and whether to dampen the strings. The end result does sound rather like the screams of a banshee, connecting this new compositional practice to Cowell’s lifelong use of mythic and folkloric elements in his music. An earlier work and the first string piano piece, The Sword of Oblivion (1921/1922), shows some of the same notation as The Banshee, though it is combined with other symbols as Cowell was still experimenting with the best way to notate these new sounds for the performer. This earlier work is also a sort of transition from typical piano performance to Cowell’s new string piano technique, as Sword incorporates both keyboard and string sounds.
Henry Cowell, composer. The Sword of Oblivion, 1921-1922. Call number ML96 .C823 (Case), Music Division. Image credit: Library of Congress
The post was first published by the Library of Congress.