John Alden Carpenter’s musical education at Harvard was deeply rooted in 19th century European traditions. While in school he became thoroughly immersed in student life: he composed music for three “Hasty Pudding Shows,” a theatrical society at Harvard known for its burlesque cross-dressing musicals, and for the orchestra of the Pierian Sodality, which was founded in 1808 as a society to share in the consumption of “brandy and cigars and the serenading of young ladies.” At school Carpenter also began to assimilate the sounds of distinctly American forms, most notably jazz.
Carpenter was born in Park Ridge, Illinois in February of 1876. His father was a wealthy and successful industrialist; his mother, a professionally trained singer, was his first piano teacher. In a household that valued education and intellectual rigor, both parents strongly encouraged his early musical study, though Carpenter was self-taught as a composer until the age of 16, when he went to Harvard to study with John Knowles Paine. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of Paine to Carpenter’s education and indeed to music in America (Paine was the first man to be named as a professor of music at an American university, and during his 43 years at Harvard, created a department of music that was the model for many American schools).
On Friday, August 30, WFMT presents a collection of Carpenter works:
Carpenter: Adventures in a Perambulator—Eastman-Rochester Orchestra/Howard Hanson
Carpenter: Four Negro Songs: “Shake your brown feet, honey”–Lawrence Tibbett, br; Stewart Wille, p. “Looking Glass River”–Donald Gramm, b-br; Richard Cumming, p.”Gitenjali” (1914): #1, “When I Bring to You Colour’d Toys”–Carole Bogard, s; John Moriarty, p.
Carpenter: Sea-Drift–Royal Philharmonic/Karl Krueger
Carpenter: Violin Sonata–Eugene Gratovich, v; Regis Benoit, p
Carpenter: Symphony #1–Ukraine National Symphony/John McLaughlin Williams
Carpenter: Tango Américain–Ramon Salvatore, p
Carolyn Paulin, Producer