Restless, Endless, Tactless - Johanna Beyer and the Birth of American Percussion Music

Audio Samples

>Beyer, Johanna : IV for percussion
>Strang, Gerald : Percussion Music, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Percussion, for percussion ensemble, Op. 14
>Becker, John J. : Vigilante 1938 (A Dance), for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : March, for percussion ensemble
>Davidson, Harold : Auto Accident, for percussion ensemble
>Green, Ray : Three Inventories of Casey Jones, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Movements (3) for percussion
>Humphrey, Doris : Dance Rhythms, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Waltz, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Suite for percussion
>Cowell, Henry : Return, for 3 percussionists and 1 "wailer", HC 566

Album Summary

>Beyer, Johanna : IV for percussion
>Strang, Gerald : Percussion Music, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Percussion, for percussion ensemble, Op. 14
>Becker, John J. : Vigilante 1938 (A Dance), for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : March, for percussion ensemble
>Davidson, Harold : Auto Accident, for percussion ensemble
>Green, Ray : Three Inventories of Casey Jones, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Movements (3) for percussion
>Humphrey, Doris : Dance Rhythms, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Waltz, for percussion ensemble
>Beyer, Johanna : Suite for percussion
>Cowell, Henry : Return, for 3 percussionists and 1 "wailer", HC 566
Composers

Notes & Reviews:

After the premiere of Varèse’s Ionisation in New York in 1933, the “percussion orchestra” became the new avant-garde. This historic recording at last presents some of the most overlooked efforts from the early period of percussion music. It spotlights the surprisingly different directions composers took in this new idiom. Some works are overtly programmatic and even satiric (Davidson, Green, and Russell), yet they experiment with unconventional playing techniques, found objects as instruments, and the playful contortion of traditional musical forms. The inclusion of the Humphrey exhibits the beginning of a long relationship between modern dance and percussion, which became furthered in the work of John Cage after he became acquainted with these pieces. But perhaps most striking in the collection was the work IV by one J.M. Beyer, whose conceptual and process-based aesthetic presaged the most daring American experimental music for years to come. Her complete works for percussion form the core of this collection of seminal works.

"Johanna Beyer’s works are a real find and worth the price of the disc by themselves. If 72 minutes of percussion music is a slight stretch, listening to the six Beyer pieces makes a fascinating and rewarding experience. The other works form a diverse and entertaining backdrop. The performances would appear to be excellent (I don’t have the scores). Certainly I get a sense of verve, of commitment, and of panache. The recording is excellent—exciting, even—capturing the full dynamic range as well as the subtle timbres of the instruments in a realistic and satisfying acoustic. This is a must-hear for anyone remotely interested in the development of music in the past century and is strongly recommended." -Fanfare

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Jones Concert Hall, Glennis McCrary Music Building, Bay.



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Works Details

>Beyer, Johanna : IV for percussion
  • Running Time: 2 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Strang, Gerald : Percussion Music, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 6 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1936

>Beyer, Johanna : Percussion, for percussion ensemble, Op. 14
  • Running Time: 3 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1939

>Becker, John J. : Vigilante 1938 (A Dance), for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 5 min. 22 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Beyer, Johanna : March, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: March
  • Written: 1939

>Davidson, Harold : Auto Accident, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 2 min. 48 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Green, Ray : Three Inventories of Casey Jones, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 4 min. 42 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1936

>Beyer, Johanna : Movements (3) for percussion
  • Running Time: 18 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1939

>Humphrey, Doris : Dance Rhythms, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1935

>Beyer, Johanna : Waltz, for percussion ensemble
  • Running Time: 3 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Waltz
  • Written: 1939

>Beyer, Johanna : Suite for percussion
  • Running Time: 5 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1933

>Cowell, Henry : Return, for 3 percussionists and 1 "wailer", HC 566
  • Running Time: 5 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1939