Sunday, April 11, 2010

American Shakuhachi Pioneers

Early 1930's New York; Henry Cowell with shakuhachi, and participants in his course "Music of the World's Peoples" at New School for Social Research.  The man in the lower right may be Cowell's shakuhachi Sensei...

One of Cowell's most famous courses at the New School was "Music of the World's Peoples" which, in combination with concerts of non-Western music, became a model for the propagation of world culture. Believing since childhood that all music was equally valid, he had studied Japanese and Bengali instruments and theory in New York, and in 1931, armed with a Guggenheim Fellowship, eagerly devoured the gigantic recorded collection of non-Western music at the University of Berlin.  Cowell became convinced that composers should be able to regard the world's music as a pool of resources from which they could draw anything from any culture that stimulated them. For the rest of his life he passionately informed anyone who would listen about the glories of our planet's musics.