The Music of Harry Freedman

The Music of Harry Freedman

GAIL DIXON
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 220
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442681767
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Music of Harry Freedman
    Book Description:

    Harry Freedman has been an important and respected figure in Canadian music for over half a century, and his productivity as a composer has been both prodigious and eclectic. Born in Poland in 1922 and raised in Winnipeg, Freedman studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music and played English Horn with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. He resigned in 1970 to become the orchestra's first composer-in-residence, and has created some 175 works in a wide variety of genres including symphonies, concertos, string quartets, operas, ballets, film scores, popular songs, and jazz pieces.

    InThe Music of Harry Freedman, Gail Dixon investigates Freedman's music with a view to illuminating its underlying principles, stylistic development, and means of coherence. Representative works from Freedman's oeuvre have been selected for detailed analysis. The chronological presentation of these works facilitates a clear understanding of Freedman's compositional style in its dramatic evolution from the tentative serial explorations of his early works to the eclectic stylistic spectrum of his later years. The analytic discussion is supplemented by a large number of musical examples, as well as compositional sketches and working notes, some in the composer's own hand. Numerous interviews with Freedman yield additional insights into his approach and perspective. Dixon does a great service to Canadian culture with this analytic study of the music of a celebrated twentieth-century figure.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8176-7
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Chapter One Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    In a seminal article written in 1969, Canadian composer and scholar John Beckwith deplored the lack of recognition accorded the music of Canadian composers, not only within Canada but also in the international musical community: ‘the reluctance to give recognition to the prime rôle played by composers in our musical life is virtually total.’¹ This bleak assessment was echoed eleven years later by George Proctor, when he described the continuing plight of Canadian music: ‘Canadian concert music … has yet to receive the depth of understanding and informed appreciation which it deserves.’²

    In the intervening years, the situation has been...

  5. Chapter Two The Early Years (to 1952)
    (pp. 9-26)

    Harry Freedman was born on 5 April 1922 in Lodz, Poland. The family immigrated in 1925 to Medicine Hat, Alberta, where they spent six years before settling permanently in Winnipeg in 1931.¹ Freedman remembers his father only as a shadowy, almost completely emasculated figure in a household entirely dominated by his mother. This highly artistic and accomplished woman had been a nurse and governess for a wealthy family in Berlin before the First World War. She sang quite well, spoke several languages, and was proficient in drawing and crafts. It is not surprising that it was she who provided the...

  6. Chapter Three Reaction: The Search for a Personal Language (1953 to 1961)
    (pp. 27-46)

    Nineteen fifty-two had been a watershed year for Freedman. The composition ofTableauhad marked the culmination of his early and rather self-conscious experiments with serialism as well as his coming of age as a composer in his own right.Tableauhad been, in a sense, Freedman’s ultimate ‘homage à Weinzweig.’ He soon began to chafe against the restrictions imposed by serialism, and in the decade following the composition ofTableauhe turned away from it entirely. From his perspective at that time, the mechanics of manipulating the row tended to focus too much of his attention on the notes...

  7. Chapter Four The Quest for Independence (1962 to 1969)
    (pp. 47-79)

    With the successful completion of his monumentalSymphony no. 1in 1960 Freedman had finally achieved the level of confidence he needed to throw off the legacy of the past and to direct his energies in pursuit of his own voice. He no longer had the sense that his mentors were looking over his shoulder, and that he must therefore conform to their musical beliefs. In the previous chapter we saw how he had almost systematically tried out other composers’ techniques and styles as he worked to find his own. In the 1960s, though he continued to study the scores...

  8. Chapter Five New Directions (1970 to 1976)
    (pp. 80-106)

    Following his tentative explorations into the realms of electronic sound, aleatoric procedures, and jazz in the 1960s, Freedman now embarked enthusiastically on a full-scale search for new and exciting possibilities. His determination was undoubtedly fuelled by his new-found freedom to devote himself to composition. In 1970 Freedman resigned his post as English horn player with the Toronto Symphony. He concedes that the orchestra was not unhappy to lose him as a player. He had recently bought an expensive new instrument and was having great difficulty in playing it in tune and getting it to speak properly in certain registers.¹ Providentially,...

  9. Chapter Six The Mature Stylistic Spectrum (1977 to the Present)
    (pp. 107-152)

    By 1977 Freedman was gaining increasing recognition as a composer, both in Canada and abroad. A CBC radio documentary dedicated entirely to his work was prepared by Norma Beecroft and broadcast on the thirteenth of September 1977. His international reputation was growing also, as evidenced by the performance in that same year of a number of his pieces, includingTangents, Brass Quintet, andKeewaydinat the CAPAC Festival in Bonn, Germany. However, 1977 was not chosen as the starting point for this chapter because that year was distinguished by any cataclysmic event or dramatic stylistic change. Rather, 1977 marks a...

  10. Chapter Seven Conclusion
    (pp. 153-164)

    The foregoing chapters have focused primarily on Freedman’s stylistic evolution, from the conservative neoclassic orientation of his early works to the astonishing eclecticism of his manure output. This final chapter will focus on four important aspects of Freedman’s work: the fundamental characteristics that endure in his music despite changes in style, the unique methods that he has evolved to compose his works, the interests and attitudes that have profoundly influenced his style, and the position he occupies in the context of the contemporary music scene in Canada.

    Despite the many transformations that have occurred in Freedman’s style over the years,...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 165-172)
  12. List of Works by Harry Freedman
    (pp. 173-184)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 185-186)
  14. Selective Bibliography
    (pp. 187-188)
  15. Index
    (pp. 189-190)