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Thread: Shapero, Harold (1920-2013)

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    Default Shapero, Harold (1920-2013)

    Earlier today I started a thread on Nikolai Lopatnikoff, because I heard his music on a Bernstein disk of "Modern Masters":

    Attachment 43671

    The final work on that disk is by another composer new to me, Harold Shapero. He just passed away last year. He was a student of Hindemith.

    According to wikipedia, his greatest work is the Symphony for Classical Orchestra, the work on the Bernstein recording I have.

    Any fans of this composer out there? Any favorite works or recordings?
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Senior Member Whistler Fred's Avatar
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    I have the same recording. The Shapero symphony really doesn't grab me. It not hard to listen to, but almost none of it sticks in my memory after the listening is done. It strikes me as a somewhat pale imitation of Stravinsky's neo-classical style.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Shapero is another of the Boston School group of composers (sometimes called "The Boston Six") which includes Arthur Berger, Irving Fine, Lukas Foss, Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland. From their works from the 40's - mid 20th century, those of Shapero, Arthur Berger, Irving Fine, and Lukas Foss, are markedly neoclassical and much in the mode of that general style of the time.

    Shapero must have studied with Hindemith while he attended Harvard. He later also studied, like so many other young American and European composers, with Nadia Boulanger. This could as much account for that somewhat Gallic neoclassical aspect in his music as might the influence of Stravinsky's neoclassicism.

    Each of those three also have that mid-century "American sound," that harmonic approach, some phrasing and the sensibility which also marked Virgil Thomson and Aaron Copland and the young Leonard Bernstein as American Sounding.

    All I know of Shapero's music is the piano music I've found on youtube, all of which is pretty satisfying as long as you are not looking for anything to split the musical world of the mid-20th century apart. This handful, a piano duet and three piano sonatas, are from the 1940's. They all have an ebullient upbeat quality. I find them eminently listenable, in that Shapero (and Berger and Fine) all had formidable writing skills; the music is clear, well-written, 'intelligent' and to me sounds quite good. As far as what could be called emotional content or 'depth,' I do find his work (only based on those heard piano pieces) on the slighter side compared to either the music of Arthur Berger or Irving Fine.

    With only the Shapero's piano music to go on, I am curious to hear some of his chamber or orchestral music. I would rather hear Shapero's piano music than most anything of Copland's -- with only a few exceptions -- or anything at all by Bernstein :-)

    Harold Shapero - Four-Hand Sonata for Piano (1941)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR0o7ajrSQ8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW5_J60fPVc

    Piano Sonatas No. 1, 2, & 3 (1944) -- these are each relatively brief.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYGrrrhyvqo
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnt-al3n-ms
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPDbSfyx75Q
    Last edited by PetrB; Jun-07-2014 at 03:08.

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    I think everybody's had this rec. at one time or another, maybe twice, tryin' to perhaps elevate their appreciation for these composers. If Lenny recorded them....

    Dallapiccola is the more significant. Noseda took up the cause somewhat for Chandos.

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    harold was a good friend of mine, in the late 1980s. very intellectual, yet earthy man. also prided himself on his ability to repair air conditioners! he did this as a day job when he was young, and still liked to tinker. very funny and sarcastic, in a mostly charming way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randy woolf View Post
    harold was a good friend of mine, in the late 1980s. very intellectual, yet earthy man. also prided himself on his ability to repair air conditioners! he did this as a day job when he was young, and still liked to tinker. very funny and sarcastic, in a mostly charming way.
    That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing that!
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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