"It's an easy enough job if one has something to say," Paul Bowles remarked in a letter to his mother about his first foray into music criticism. And Paul Bowles, indeed, had plenty to say about music. Though known chiefly as a writer of novels and stories, Paul Bowles (1910-99) thought of himself first and foremost as a composer. Drawing together the work he did at the intersection of his two passions and professions, writing and music, this volume collects the music criticism Bowles published between 1935 and 1946 as well as an interview conducted by Irene Herrmann shortly before his death.
An intimate of Aaron Copland and protégé of Virgil Thomson, Bowles was a musical sophisticate acquainted with an enormous range of music. His criticism collected here brilliantly illuminates not only the whole range of modernist composition but also film music, jazz, Mexican and Moroccan music, and many other genres. As a reviewer he reports on established artists and young hopefuls, symphonic concerts indoors and out, and important premieres of works by Copland, Thomson, Cage, Shostakovich, and Stravinsky, among others. Written with the austere grace of his better-known literary works, Bowles's criticism enhances our picture of an important era in American music history as well as our sense of his accomplishments and extraordinary contribution to twentieth-century culture.
Articles and Reviews by Paul Bowles
Interview with Paul Bowles, by Irene Hermann
Winner of the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award for music criticism, Timothy Mangan is classical music critic for the Orange County Register. Irene Herrmann is Lecturer in Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the executrix of the Paul Bowles music estate.
"Bowles on Music captures the writer from 1935 to 1946: the formative years of the much lauded "Greatest Generation." It was one of the most exciting periods in our nation's history, and Bowles, a talented and mostly self-taught composer, had the right ear and eye to capture it."—William Heisel Orange County Register
“These impressions of music are a reminder of what always rings true in [Bowles’] literary work, namely a passionate observation of local life in the places he writes about... Enthusiasm and love of music inform every paragraph.”—Judith Weir Times Literary Supplement (TLS)
“The reader will find here the skill and imagination of a gifted writer.”—W.K. Kearns Choice: Current Reviews For Academic Libraries
“Whether one agrees with Bowles is not the point. He is an uncommonly plausible and stimulating critic, and this handsome, meticulously edited volume adds significantly to our understanding of American musical life.”—Tim Page Washington Post Book World
“a truly multifaceted view of a complex figure...No Matter which direction we turn, it seems that Bowles the inveterate voyager was already there.”—Ken Smith Gramophone
His musical writing chronicles the discoveries and determinations of a graceful and wise mind.—Alan Rich LA Weekly
“[Bowles] is an uncommonly plausible and stimulating critic, and this handsome, meticulously edited volume adds significantly to our understanding of American musical life in the middle of the last century.”—Tim Page Washington Post Book World
“This pleasing book . . . usefully fills out Bowles’s creative profile.”—David Shengold Opera News
“This pleasing book, full of straightforward apercus about music and performance, usefully fills out Bowles’s creative profile.”—David Shengold Opera News
"In this wonderfully engaging and informative collection we hear the voice of a different Paul Bowles. Writing on a wide range of subjects--jazz, film music, classical music, popular music, ethnic music--he is direct, opinionated, incisive, analytical, humorous, and passionate."—Millicent Dillon, author of You Are Not I: A Portrait of Paul Bowles