Morton Gould Biography

10 December 1913, Richmond Hill, New York, USA, d. 21 February 1996, Orlando, Florida, USA. Gould was one of the most important figures in American music of the twentieth century. His composition ‘Pavane’ (from his ‘American Symphonette No. 2’) has become a light-music standard. By the age of 21 he was conducting and arranging a weekly series of orchestral radio shows, which allowed him to introduce many of his lighter works to a wider public. Equally at home in the popular and classical fields, his compositions included ‘American Salute’, ‘Latin-American Symphonette’, ‘Spirituals For Orchestra’, ‘Interplay For Piano And Orchestra’, ‘Tap Dance Concerto’, ‘Dance Variations For Two Pianos And Orchestra’, ‘Jekyll And Hyde Variations’, plus five symphonies and numerous works for symphonic band. Among many special commissions were ‘Fall River Legend’, ‘Inventions For Four Pianos And Wind Orchestra’, ‘Declaration’, ‘St Lawrence Suite’, ‘Festive Music’, ‘Venice’, ‘Columbia’, ‘Soundings’, ‘Cheers’ (commissioned by the Boston Symphony for Arthur Fiedler’s 50th anniversary), ‘Burchfield Gallery’, ‘Celebration ‘81’, ‘Housewarming’, ‘Cello Suite’, ‘Concerto Concertante’, ‘Centennial Symphony For Band’ and ‘Troubador Music For Four Guitars’. Gould’s musical scores for Broadway included Billion Dollar Baby (1945) and Arms And The Girl (1950). For the cinema he scored Delightfully Dangerous, Cinerama Holiday and Windjammer. Ballets included Jerome Robbins’ Interplay, Agnes De Mille’s Fall River Legend, George Balanchine’s Clarinade and Eliot Field’s Santa Fe Saga and Halftime.

Gould’s television work included a CBS World War 1 documentary series, F. Scott Fitzgerald In Hollywood for ABC, the four-part mini-series Holocaust (1978) and a role as musical host for the National Educational Network series The World Of Music With Morton Gould. His list of recordings is extensive and he received many Grammy nominations. In 1966 his RCA Red Seal recording of Charles Ives with the Chicago Symphony won the NARAS Grammy Award as the best classical recording of the year. In lighter vein, Gould’s mood albums by his own orchestra from the 40s and 50s are collector’s items. He also recorded with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, the American Symphony Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra. Gould travelled widely in the USA and throughout the world as a guest conductor, and was the recipient of numerous awards from fellow musicians. In March 1986 he became President of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), holding the post until 1994. Much of his music featured a strong patriotic American flavour, partly explaining why his own compositions were not better known outside the USA. In 1995, at the age of 81, Morton Gould won his first Pulitzer Prize in music for his work ‘Stringmusic’. He died suddenly at a hotel in Orlando, Florida, while attending the Disney Institute as artist-in-residence.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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