Works for Orchestra
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Tuneful, romantic, turn-of-the-century Americans.

Fueled by the brashness of a young nation, nineteenth century America produced a group of composers as diverse as the people who created the United States. They created a body of music that was distinctly American in sound and spirit. They were teachers, conductors, performers, publishers and administrators, but first and foremost, they were composers. Composers of music that moved the feet, sang the praises and expressed the hopes and desires of the American people. Who were they? Francis Johnson (1792-1844) was an American-American probably born in Philadelphia. Hailed during his lifetime as America's first native born master of music, he was a skilled performer on the keyed bugle, violin and piano. William Henry Humiston (1869-1923) was born in Marietta, Ohio. Easily the most enigmatic of the composer on this recording, Humiston was primarily an organist. He studied composition with Edward MacDowell from 1986-1899 and became assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1916. Harry Rowe Shelley (1858-1947) was one of the few American composers of his generation to study exclusively in the United States. Born in New Haven, Shelley studied at Yale University with Gustav Stoeckell and later with Dudley Buck and Antonin Dvorak in New York. Shelley was an organist at various churches in Manhattan and Brooklyn until his retirement in1936. George Whitefield Chadwick (1954-1931) was an American original, an independent Yankee who rose from humble origins to a position of prominence on his own merits. Founder of the Music Teachers National Association, Chadwick used his salary from his father's insurance firm to finance his musical education. Edgar Stillman Kelley (1857-1944) was a prolific composer of programmatic works noted for his innovative orchestration. Born in Sparta, Wisconsin, Kelley studied with Clarence Eddy in Chicago with further studies in Stuttgart. Kelley taught at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music for more than 20 years.
Contents:
George Whitefield Chadwick, composer
Melpomene, Dramatic Overture
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


William Henry Humiston, composer
A Southern Fantasy
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


Francis Johnson, composer
The Philadelphia Gray's Quickstep
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


Francis Johnson, composer
The Princeton Grand March
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


Francis Johnson, composer
Johnson's March
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


Edgar Stillman Kelley, composer
Aladdin, Chinese Suite
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor


Harry Rowe Shelley, composer
Santa Claus Overture
Symphony Orchestra of America, Matthew Phillips, conductor

Review:
"These are composers who, sadly, have dropped from sight, and each is worthy of rediscovery. Born a year after Mozart died, Francis Johnson, the black Philadelphia bandmaster, was a gifted composer of practical music and wrote marches and dances of lasting quality. His Philadelphia Gray's Quickstep was based on an aria from Bellini's Norma, which shows how sophisticated a musician he was. The Princeton Grand March and Johnson's March are samples of a durable talent. Not everything on this record is pure gold. But George Whitefield Chadwick's Melpomene and Stillman's Aladdin show the vibrancy of American music early in the century. Chadwick's music was admiring of Wagner, but distinctly American. Stillman decorated his music with wonderful Oriental colors. The performances are respectful and well worth hearing." (Philadelphia Inquirer)