PAUL CRESTON


Paul Creston. Photo provided courtesy of Timothy Creston.


The story of Paul Creston has the qualities of an American myth: an individual's triumph over deprivation, achieving fame and success; his subsequent decline; and his posthumous vindication. Born in poverty to an immigrant family and unable to finish his basic schooling, he took on the task of educating himself, determined to make a name for himself as a composer in the competitive and elitist world of classical music. Not until age twenty-six did he present his first work to the public, aligning himself with New York City's musical avant-garde. Less than ten years later he enjoyed the honor of having his music performed by no less than the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. Henry Cowell wrote, "There is no one known to me who handles more expertly the traditional types of development of a musical germ [than Paul Creston]." By age fifty, he was among the three or four most frequently and most widely performed living American composers of concert music. Yet by the time he was sixty, his major works were no longer played, his name kept alive by a handful of oddities of largely utilitarian value.
(From Voices in the Wilderness, p. 191)

 

Following are brief excerpts representative of many facets of Creston's musical style. They are taken from some of the works discussed in more detail in Voices in the Wilderness. Click on "download" to listen to mp3 versions of the musical excerpts. If you want to listen to the streaming versions (recommended for slower connections), you need to have RealPlayer on your computer. Free download:

Symphony no. 1 (1940): a.. With Majesty download streaming version
Symphony no. 2 (1944): b. Dance download streaming version
Trombone Fantasy (1947): opening portion download streaming version
Symphony no. 3, "Three Mysteries" (1950): c. Resurrection download streaming version
Walt Whitman (1952): excerpts-first, third sections download streaming version
Symphony no. 5 (1955): a. Con moto (theme); c. Allegro download streaming version
Janus (1959): Theme; later excerpt download streaming version
Corinthians: XIII (1963): excerpt fm. first section download streaming version

Metamorphoses (1964): Theme; Vars. 4-7

download streaming version
Piano Trio (1979): a. Prelude download streaming version

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