Anthony Newman (musician)

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Anthony Newman at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in September 2012

Anthony Newman (born May 12, 1941) is an American classical musician. While mostly known as an organist, Newman is also a harpsichordist, pedal harpsichordist, pianist, fortepianist, composer, conductor, writer, and teacher. A specialist in music of the Baroque period, particularly the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Newman considers himself to have played an important role in the movement towards historically informed performance. He has collaborated with noted musicians such as Kathleen Battle, Julius Baker, Itzhak Perlman, Eugenia Zukerman, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Leonard Bernstein and Wynton Marsalis for whom he arranged and conducted In Gabriel’s Garden, the most popular classical record of 1996.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Newman was born in Los Angeles, California. His father was a lawyer and his mother was a professional dancer and an amateur pianist. Newman started playing the piano by ear at age four and could read music before he could read words.[3] He was five when he first heard the music of J.S. Bach (the fifth Brandenburg Concerto)[4] and was "delighted, elated and fascinated"[5] At five he began piano lessons but decided to add organ after hearing his first Bach organ music (Toccata and Fugue in D minor). He had to wait until he was ten to begin organ lessons because before then his feet would not reach the pedals.[4] From the age of ten to seventeen he studied the organ with Richard Keys Biggs.[6]

At age seventeen Newman went to Paris, France to study at l'École Normale de Musique. His primary teachers were Pierre Cochereau, organ, Madeleine de Valmalete, piano and Marguerite Roesgen-Champion, harpsichord. He received a Diplôme Supérieur, with the commendations of the legendary pianist Alfred Cortot.[7]

Newman returned to the United States and received a B.S. in 1963 from the Mannes School of Music having studied organ with Edgar Hilliar, piano with Edith Oppens and composition with William Sydemann. He worked as a teaching fellow at Boston University while studying composition with Leon Kirchner at Harvard University. He received his M.A. in composition from Harvard in 1966 and his doctorate in organ from Boston University in 1967 where he studied organ with George Faxon and composition with Gardner Read and Luciano Berio for whom he also served as teaching assistant.[6]

Professional life[edit]

Newman's professional debut, in which he played Bach organ works on the pedal harpsichord, took place at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York in 1967. Of this performance the New York Times wrote, "His driving rhythms and formidable technical mastery...and intellectually cool understanding of the structures moved his audience to cheers at the endings."[8] Based solely on the Times’ review, and without an audition, Columbia Records signed Newman to a recording contract. Clive Davis, head of Columbia Records, took his cue from the prevailing anti-establishment sentiment among young people and Newman's long hair and interest in Zen meditation and marketed Newman as a counterculture champion of Bach would could draw young audiences.[7] As a result, according to Newman, it took some years for him to "live down" the image created by Davis and to be taken seriously in the classical music world.[9] But Newman did indeed draw young audiences as noted by Time magazine in a 1971 article in which they dubbed him the "high priest of the harpsichord."[10] After recording twelve albums for Columbia Records Newman left along with pianist André Watts, another of Davis' protégés, when Davis left Columbia in 1979.[11] Newman has gone on to make solo recordings for a variety of labels including Digitech, Excelsior, Helicon, Infinity Digital/Sony, Moss Music Group/Vox, Newport Classic, Second Hearing, Sheffield, Sine Qua Non, Sony, Deutsch Grammophon, and 903 Records.[6] Newman has recorded most of Bach's keyboard works on organ, harpsichord and piano as well as recording works of Scarlatti, Handel, and Couperin. On the fortepiano he has recorded the works of Beethoven and Mozart. As a conductor Newman has led international orchestras such as the Madeira Festival Orchestra, the Brandenburg Collegium, and the English Chamber Orchestra.[6]

For thirty years, starting in 1968, while Newman continued to record, concertize, compose, conduct and write, he taught music at The Juilliard School, Indiana University, and State University of New York at Purchase.[12]

Although initially intensely interested in composition, he became discouraged by the non-tonal music that was the focus of conservatory composition departments in the 50s and 60s.[5][13] He returned to composition in the 1980s and developed a post-modern compositional style that took over from where pre-atonal post-modernism left off. He makes use of musical archetypes from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as well as 20th century archetypes he has devised himself with the intent making new but accessible music.[14][15] Newman has written music for a range of instruments including organ, harpsichord, orchestra, guitar, violin, cello, flute chamber ensemble, piano, choral music and opera.[6] In 2011, Newman released a 20-CD set of his most important compositions on 903 Records.

Newman is music director of Bach Works and Bedford Chamber Concerts, is on the Visiting Committee for the Department of Musical Instruments at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is on the board of Musical Quarterly magazine.

Baroque performance controversy[edit]

From the beginning Newman's interpretation of the music of J.S. Bach brought disdain from many musicians. His chosen tempos are generally extremely fast, and he often takes liberties with rhythm and ornamentation. Newman's argument in favor of his tempo is that what he calls the "traditional" approach to Bach began 100 years after Bach's death and is misguided by a mystique and reverence for the composer that results in performances which are slow, rhythmically restrained and without the vivification of ornamentation.[7][16] In contrast, Newman's recordings of Bach have been considered "exciting" by some who are skeptical of the validity of his interpretations.[17][18] In Newman's scholarly text, Bach and the Baroque, published in 1985 and revised in 1995, Newman supports his performance of Baroque music with a thorough analysis based on contemporary 17th and 18th century sources. Newman discusses how alterations to the written music - rhythmic variations such as rubato and notes inégale[19] as well as improvised ornamentation - were common in Bach's time and that fast movements were played faster than has been traditionally accepted. Scholarly opposition to Newman's approach was led by Frederick Neumann who had long-held that notes inégal were limited primarily to French performance practice and that Bach, who traveled relatively little, would not have been exposed to this technique.[20] In reviewing Newman's Bach and the Baroque in 1987 Neumann was at first somewhat gracious calling Newman "...a splendid keyboard performer who can dazzle his audiences with brilliant virtuosic feats. He can, and often does, play faster than perhaps any of his colleagues, and shows occasionally other signs of eccentricity."[21] However he takes Newman to task for "careless scholarship" citing misuse of terms such as tactus and misinterpretation of Bach's notation. But his strongest objection is to Newman's defense of the use of notes inégal in the performance of Bach. Most of Neumann's complaints question the validity of Newman's sources.[22]

Music critics too have been of two minds about Newman's interpretations of Bach, as illustrated in the following excerps from the New York Times:

  • "A hiccup effect, or a sudden pause…is it rubato or something else that Mr. Newman applies…whatever it is, it lurches absurdly."[23]
  • "His use of rubato as a structural device is particularly subtle – tiny pauses at various key spots to isolate and define vertical blocks within a phrase"[24]
  • "…his accents…startle, even outrage…it is like listening to someone who speaks your native language with breathtaking fluency but in a thick accent, sprinkled with outrageous mispronunciations."[25]
  • "His free use of rhythm to define larger phrase structures…does serve its purpose admirably in addition to adding a touch of drama to his performances."[18]

Over time Newman's fast tempos have become relatively common in the performance of Bach's works[2] and his championing of the use of original instruments foreshadowed the historically informed performance movement in America by at least ten years.[26]

Personal life[edit]

At 28 Newman became a student of Zen Buddhism. He has practiced meditation several hours a day since then.[7] Newman was a volunteer at the hospice unit of Stamford Hospital from 1995 to 2004. He is married to Rabbi Mary Jane Newman. They have three sons.

Selected discography[edit]

CBS Masterworks/Columbia

  • Anthony Newman, Harpsichord
  • Anthony Newman: Music for Organ
  • Anthony Newman Plays and Conducts Bach and Haydn
  • Anthony Newman Plays Harpsichord, Organ, and Pedal Harpsichord
  • Anthony Newman Plays J.S. Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord and Organ
  • Bach: Goldberg Variations
  • The Well Tempered Clavier Book I
  • The Well Tempered Clavier Book II
  • Bach: The Six Brandenburg Concertos

Digitech

  • Handel: Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks

Helicon

  • Bach at Lejansk
  • Bach In Celebration
  • Bach: The Goldberg Variations

Infinity Digital/Sony

  • Bach Favorite Organ Works
  • Bach: Goldberg Variations

Moss Music Group/Vox

  • Bach: The Twenty-Four Organ Preludes and Fugues
  • Bach: Toccatas for Harpsichord"
  • Famous Organ Works
  • Bach: Suite No. 2 in B minor; Telemann: Suite in A minor (with Julius Baker)

Newport Classic

  • Bach: Preludes and Fugues for Organ
  • Bach: Trio Sonatas
  • Beethoven Sonatas (fortepiano)
  • Couperin: Two Organ Masses
  • Falla: Harpsichord Concerto
  • Franck: Complete Works for the Organ
  • J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations
  • Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas (fortepiano)
  • Poulenc: Organ Concerto in G-minor
  • Romantic Masterworks for Organ
  • Romantic Organ, Vol II
  • Scarlatti Sonatas
  • Solo Organ Concertos
  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 (fortepiano)
  • Beethoven: Piano Concertos No. 2 and 4 (fortepiano)
  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 (fortepiano)
  • Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (fortepiano)
  • J.S. Bach: Concertos for One and Two Harpsichords
  • Schumann: Piano Concerto
  • Beethoven: Violin Sonatas (fortepiano)
  • Lutheran Organ Mass

Sony

  • Handel: Harpsichord Suites
  • Mozart: Famous Piano Sonatas
  • Scarlatti: Harpsichord Sonatas
  • Baroque Duet (with Wynton Marsalis and Kathleen Battle)
  • Grace (with Kathleen Battle)
  • Saint-Saëns: Symphony No. 3, 'Organ'
  • Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos
  • Classic Wynton (with Wynton Marsalis)
  • In Gabriel's Garden (with Wynton Marsalis)

903 Records

  • J.S. Bach: Six Partitas
  • J.S. Bach: Well Tempered Clavier Book 2
  • J.S. Bach: Works for Pedal Harpsichord and Organ
  • The Music of J.S. Bach
  • Selections from Bach's Brandenburg Concerti
  • J.S. Bach: Concerto in D Minor, Seven Toccatas for Harpsichord
  • The Complete Collected Harpsichord Works of J.S. Bach
  • The Complete Collected Organ Works of J.S. Bach
  • The Complete Works of Anthony Newman

Khaeon

  • Bach: The Well Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (complete piano and organ)
  • Bach: The Great Works for the Organ

Selected discography of compositions[edit]

903 Records

  • Anthony Newman: Three Symphonies for Organ Solo
  • Anthony Newman: Nicole
  • Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Cello and Piano
  • Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Violin and Piano
  • Anthony Newman: Te Deum Laudamus
  • Anthony Newman: Large Chamber Works: Chamber Concerto, String Quartet #2, Piano Quintet
  • Anthony Newman: Complete Works for Organ Solo
  • Anthony Newman: American Classic Symphonies 1 and 2
  • Ittzes Plays Newman: Complete Works for Flute
  • Anthony Newman: 12 Preludes and Fugues in Ascending Key Order for Piano Solo
  • Anthony Newman: Complete Music for Violin

Newport Classic

  • Concertino for Piano & Orchestra
  • On Fallen Heros: Orchestral Works

Khaeon

  • Requiem

Awards[edit]

  • 1958 French Government Bourse Scholarship
  • 1963 Variell Fellowship, Harvard University
  • 1964 Winner, International Composition Competition (organ solo), Nice, France
  • 1967 Fulbright Fellowship
  • 1977 Harpsichordist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
  • 1978 Harpsichordist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
  • 1981 Classical Keyboardist of the Year, Keyboard magazine
  • 1986 Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto chosen Record of the Year by Stereo Review
  • 1993 Boston University Distinguished Graduate award
  • 2004 Musica Sacra award
  • 30 consecutive annual composer awards from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.anthonynewmanmusician.org
  2. ^ a b Polkow, Dennis, "Anthony Newman Gets Some Respect", Calendar Archives, April, 1988
  3. ^ Garvey, Christine Newman, personal communication with Dean Farwood, June 20, 2010
  4. ^ a b Newman, Anthony, personal communication with Dean Farwood, May 15, 2010
  5. ^ a b Armstrong, Jon, Interview with Musician Anthony Newman, https://archive.org/details/InterviewWithMusicianAnthonyNewman
  6. ^ a b c d e Donahue, Thomas, Anthony Newman: Music, Energy, Spirit, Healing, 2001, Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham
  7. ^ a b c d Newman, Anthony, personal communication with Dean Farwood, May 22, 2010
  8. ^ Klein, Howard, A Harpsichordist Dazzles in Debut, New York Times, February 16, 1967
  9. ^ Newman, Anthony, personal communication with Dean Farwood, June 6, 2010
  10. ^ "Hip Harpsichordist", Time, August 28, 1972, p. 37
  11. ^ Newman, Anthony, personal communication with Dean Farwood, June 13, 2010
  12. ^ Cummings, Robert, Anthony Newman Biography, http://www.allmusic.com/artist/anthony-newman-q7776/biography
  13. ^ Newman, Anthony, Anthony Newman on Composing, http://anthonynewmancomposer.com/multimedia.html[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Newman, Anthony, Anthony Newman on Harmony,http://anthonynewmancomposer.com/multimedia.html[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ http://anthonynewmancomposer.com/index.html[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Newman, Anthony, Bach and the Baroque, 2nd ed., 1995, pp. 2-3, Pendragon Press, Hillsdale,
  17. ^ Henahan, Donal, "Anthony Newman's Extraordinary Musical Gifts", New York Times, August 17, 1972
  18. ^ a b Davis, Peter G., "Newman's Bach", New York Times, June 20, 1979
  19. ^ Newman, Anthony, "Inequality: A New Point of View", Musical Quarterly,1992, 76 (2): 169-183
  20. ^ Neumann, Frederick, "Letter", Musical Quarterly, 1992, 76 (2): 169-183
  21. ^ Neumann, Frederick, New Essays on Performance Practice, p. 235, 1989,University of Rochester Press, Rochester
  22. ^ Neumann, Frederick, New Essays on Performance Practice, pp. 237-239, 1989,University of Rochester Press, Rochester
  23. ^ Hugues, Allen, "Bach and all that Razzel-Dazzel", New York Times, December 7, 1969
  24. ^ Davis, Peter G., "Bach Works Are Played By Newman", New York Times, November 29, 1976
  25. ^ Ericson, Raymond, "Newman Is Back With Bach", New York Times, November 26, 1976
  26. ^ Early Music Revival

External links[edit]