May 4th, 2020
In this episode, Dave and Andrew explore the winner of the sixth Pulitzer Prize in Music, Walter Piston for his Symphony No. 3.
Walter Piston was a long-time teacher at Harvard University (Leonard Bernstein and Elliott Carter count among his students) and author of several influential textbooks, including Principles of Harmonic Analysis (1933) and Orchestration (1955). He was also, according to Aaron Copland, “one of the most expert craftsmen American music can boast.” His Symphony No. 3, premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1948, displays that craftsmanship but also the rich, sonorous sound he could pull from the orchestra. But how does it stand up today?
If you'd like more information about Walter Piston we recommend:
- Carol Oja's essay "Reappraising Walter Piston"
- Elliott Carter's summary of his teacher's music "Walter Piston" in The Musical Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 3 (July 1946): 354-375.
- Howard Pollack's book Harvard Composers: Walter Piston and His Students, from Elliott Carter to Frederick Rzewski (Scarecrow Press, 1992).
- The first recording of the piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18IybqdI5dw