Thursday, October 22, 2015

We should explain: the new music series from Nonesuch, 1969-1980



When crate-digging at swap meets, there’s a cover design trope I see popping up again and again in the vintage electronic LP bins: a pure white background, an illustration (usually on the left), and an essay that starts on the front and continues on the back. I’ve often wondered what this series was in its breadth and depth, and thanks to Discogs and Google image search I’ve discovered these were all new music titles from Nonesuch. I’ve found 50 unique titles in the series, all released between 1969 and 1980 (not including two reissues and five Quadraphonic LPs released concurrently with their stereo counterparts).

The artist roster includes your choice of heavyweights of 20th century new music, including Ives, Cage, Wuorinen, Carter, Xenakis, Dodge, Schoenberg, Varese, Milhaud, Davies, Crumb, Babbitt, and Rzewski. The Nonesuch catalogue from 1964 through the mid-seventies was packed with deathless Western classical favorites, non-Western music, and dips into the vintage Americana songbooks of Scott Joplin and Stephen Foster, so in retrospect the design approach for these new music LPs made great sense – if you throw new music by unfamiliar composers at a record-buying audience, don’t just anticipate their WTF response, cater to it by starting your explanatory notes up front right under the title.

Based on my research, only about 40% of these items have ever been reissued, so to hear the rest, you’ll either have to keep digging the crates or crank up YouTube.


Fredric Myrow / Roger Reynolds - Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg, Phyllis Bryn-Julson Spectrum: New American Music, Volume I ‎[Myrow, Songs from the Japanese; Reynolds, Quick Are the Mouths of Earth] H-71219 (1969)

Stefan Wolpe / George Rochberg / Seymour Shifrin - The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg, Jan DeGaetani Spectrum: New American Music, Volume II ‎ H-71220 (1969)

Jacob Druckman / Joseph Schwantner / John Harbison / The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg Spectrum: New American Music, Volume III ‎ H-71221 (1969)

Charles Ives, Alvin Brehm, Henry Brant, Peter Phillips - The American Brass Quintet With Jan DeGaetani American Brass Music ‎ H-71222 (1969)

Donald Erb Music For Instruments & Electronic Sounds H-71223 (1969)

John Cage & Lejaren Hiller / Ben Johnston HPSCHD / String Quartet No. 2 H-71224 (1969)

Charles Wuorinen Time's Encomium (For Synthesized & Processed Synthesized Sound) H-71225 (1970)

Eric Salzman The Nude Paper Sermon ‎ H-71231 (1969)

Elliott Carter Sonata For Flute, Oboe, Cello & Harpsichord / Sonata For Cello & Piano ‎ H-71234 (1969)

Bertram Turetzky - John Cage / Pauline Oliveros / Ben Johnston The Contemporary Contrabass H-71237 (1970)

J.K. Randall, Barry Vercoe, Charles Dodge Computer Music ‎[Quartets In Pairs, Quartersines, Mudgett: Monologues By A Mass Murderer, Synthesism, Changes] H-71245 (1970)

Iannis Xenakis Electro-Acoustic Music [Bohor I, Concret P-H II, Diamorphoses II, Orient-Occident III] H-71246 (1970)

Elliott Carter - The Composers Quartet String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 H-71249 (1970)

Charles Dodge Earth's Magnetic Field ‎ H-71250 (1970)

Arnold Schoenberg - Jan DeGaetani - Arthur Weisberg Pierrot Lunaire Op.21 H-71251 (1971)

Jacob Druckman Animus III / Synapse / Valentine H-71253 (1971)

George Crumb Ancient Voices Of Children H-71255 (1971)

William Bolcom / William Albright With Sydney Hodkinson New Music For Organ H-71260 (1971)

Charles Wuorinen Chamber Concerto For Cello & 10 Players / Ringing Changes, For Percussion Ensemble ‎ H-71263 (1971)

Edgard Varèse Offrandes / Intégrales / Octandre / Ecuatorial H-71269 (1972)

Gerard Schwarz, Ursula Oppens The New Trumpet ‎[Peter Maxwell Davies, Sonata for Trumpet & Piano; Lucia Dlugoszewski, Space Is a Diamond; Hellermann/Duncan, The Fire] H-71275 (1972)

Ruth Crawford Seeger / George Perle / Milton Babbitt - The Composers Quartet String Quartets H-71280 (1973)

Kurt Weill • Darius Milhaud • Arthur Weisberg Conducting Contemporary Chamber Ensemble Suite From The Threepenny Opera, La Création Du Monde H-71281 (1973)

George Rochberg - The Concord String Quartet String Quartet No. 3 ‎ H-71283 (1973)

Peter Maxwell Davies Eight Songs For A Mad King ‎ H-71285 (1973)

Samuel Baron - Karl Korte / Mario Davidovsky / Meyer Kupferman Music For Flute & Tape ‎ H-71289 (1974)

Varèse, Colgrass, Cowell, Saperstein, Oak - The New Jersey Percussion Ensemble, Raymond DesRoches Percussion Music ‎ H-71291 (1974)

George Crumb [David Burge, piano] Makrokosmos, Volume I H-71293 (1974)

Peter Maxwell Davies, The Fires Of London Vesalii Icones ‎(LP, RE) H-71295 (1974)

William Bolcom - Bruce Mather, Pierrette LePage Frescoes (War In Heaven / The Caves Of Orcus) ‎ H-71297 (1974)

Donald Martino / Charles Wuorinen - Speculum Musicae, Daniel Shulman (2), Fred Sherry Notturno / Speculum Speculi H-71300 (1974)

Stefan Wolpe / George Rochberg / Jeff Jones (12), The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Jan DeGaetani Spectrum: New American Music, Volume IV ‎ H-71302 (1974)

Milton Babbitt / T.J. Anderson / Richard Wernick – The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Arthur Weisberg Spectrum: New American Music, Volume V ‎ H-71303 (1974)

Schoenberg - Paul Jacobs Piano Music ‎ H-71309 (1975)

George Crumb Music For A Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III) ‎ H-71311 (1975)

Elliott Carter Double Concerto For Harpsichord And Piano With Two Chamber Orchestras / Duo For Violin And Piano H-71314 (1975)

Darius Milhaud - William Bolcom Piano Music ‎ H-71316 (1975)

Charles Wuorinen String Trio / Bearbeitungen Über Das Glogauer Liederbuch / Grand Bamboula ‎ H-71319 (1975)

Harvey Sollberger With Charles Wuorinen, Sophie Sollberger, Allen Blustine, Jeanne Benjamin Twentieth-Century Flute Music (Works By Berio, Davidovsky, Fukushima, Levy, Reynolds, Roussakis, Trombly, Varèse, Westergaard, Wuorinen) ‎(2xLP) HB-73028 (1975)

Claude Debussy, Paul Jacobs Etudes For Piano, Books I & II H-71322 (1976)

William Bolcom - Paul Sperry, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies Open House / Commedia ‎ H-71324 (1976)
Arnold Schoenberg - The Light Fantastic Players Serenade For Seven Instruments & Bass Voice, Op. 24 ‎ H-71331 (1976)

Bartók, Busoni, Messiaen, Stravinsky - Paul Jacobs Piano Etudes ‎ H-71334 (1976)

Charles Ives - Gilbert Kalish Piano Sonata No. 2 "Concord, Mass., 1840-60" ‎ H-71337 (1977)

Peter Maxwell Davies / Richard Wernick Dark Angels / Songs Of Remembrance ‎ H-71342 (1977)

Igor Stravinsky - Paul Jacobs, Ursula Oppens Music For Two Pianos & Piano Four Hands ‎ H-71347 (1978)

John Heiss / Seymour Shifrin / Paul Lansky - The Boston Musica Viva, D'Anna Fortunato, Richard Pittman New American Music For Chamber Ensemble ‎ H-71351 (1978)

Charles Wuorinen Percussion Symphony ‎ H-71353 (1978)

Frederic Rzewski / John Harbison - Speculum Musicae With David Evitts, The Emmanuel Choir Of Boston Song And Dance / The Flower-Fed Buffaloes ‎ H-71366 (1979)

Donald Martino / Milton Babbitt Triple Concerto / Arie Da Capo ‎ H-71372 (1980)

1 comment:

  1. Nonesuch was a staple of mine and many other classical music nuts in the 60s and 70s … their catalog was amazing and the liner notes were good. Still remember my first Vivaldi on Nonesuch, … salad days!

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