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Space Age Music Maker

Morton Gould

  • Born 10 December 1913, Richmond Hill, New York
  • Died 21 February 1996, Orlando, Florida

Morton Gould was a child prodigy, playing the piano at the age of 4 and published his first piece of music, a waltz titled, "Just Six," two years later. He performed frequently throughout his childhood, on radio and in concert and vaudeville halls. He graduated from Julliard before the age of 16 and was hired as staff arranger and pianist at Radio City Music Hall.

In his early 20s, he moved to NBC radio and arranged and conducted the studio orchestra on a number of its regular shows. His composition "Pavanne" was written at this time and was widely performed and recorded. He got his own show showcasing "symphonic jazz" in 1939, and another series featuring general orchestral works in 1943. Throughout this time, he was also composing serious pieces on commissioned by such heavyweight conductors as Stokowski, Fritz Reiner, and Dmitri Mitropoulos.

He was the recipient of numerous awards, including Kennedy Center Honors in 1994 and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for his "Stringmusic," commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and composed as a tribute to its music director, Mstislav Rostropovich.

Guest conducting took Mr. Gould to the major orchestras of this country and to Australia, Japan, Mexico and Israel; he also appeared frequently as a guest piano soloist, and he recorded extensively. RCA reissued Gould's five Living Stereo albums on CD in 1996. Like Arthur Fiedler, he was a great lover of fire trucks and firemen, and one of his last pieces was written about a fire truck as an entertainment for his grandson.

Gould was an innovative and adventurous composer and arranger, but many of his recordings may sound too much like classical "pops" music to exotica listeners. Newcomers to Gould are recommended to check out "Jungle Drums" and then see whether more samples are called for.

Recordings (a small sampling)

  • Symphonic Serenade, Columbia CL-560
  • Starlight Serenade, Columbia CL-664
  • Jungle Drums, RCA Victor LPM-1994
  • More Jungle Drums, RCA Victor LSC-2768
  • Kern/Porter Favorites, RCA Victor LSP
  • Music for Summertime, RCA Victor LPM-2006
  • Brass and Percussion, RCA Victor LPM-2080
  • Baton and Bows, RCA Victor LSC-2217
  • Good Night Sweetheart, RCA Victor LSC-2682
  • Cinerama Holiday (soundtrack), Mercury MG 20059
  • Windjammer (soundtrack), Columbia CL 1158
  • Lecuona Sinfonica, BMG 09026-68922-2

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