ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY; Volume 54, Winter 1995, p. 457
An Arkansas Original
JAMES R. GREESON
and GRETCHEN B. GEARHART
COMPOSER COLON NANCARROW
(COURTESY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS DIVISION,
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS LIBRARIES, FAYETTEVILLE)
KNOWN THROUGHOUT the musical world as some of the
most significant and innovative music of the twentieth century, the music
of Conlon Nancarrow remains largely unheard by the concert-going public
(1) . Nancarrow acquired general recognition in 1982 when he received a
five-year John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur grant. But for over forty years
he lived and worked in Mexico City on a body of work consisting of over
sixty pieces, which formed his series, Studies for Player Piano,
(the instrument found in many homes prior to the widespread availability
of sound recordings) before emerging from relative isolation through recordings
of his compositions (2).
- Nancarrow was born in Texarkana, Arkansas, in 1912, the son of a business
man who served as mayor of Texarkana between 1927 and 1930 (3). He studied
briefly at Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and later spent several
years in Boston before going to Spain to fight with the Abraham Lincoln
Brigade in 1937 (4).
- Interview by James R. Greeson with introduction and afterword by Gretchen
B. Gearhart. Greeson is
- associate professor music at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Gearhart is assistant editor of Arkansas Historical Quarterly.
- 1. Conlon Nancarrow, Studies for Player Piano, vols. 3 &
4, essay by Charles Amirkhanian, notes by
- James Tenney, CD WER 606166-50, WER 60167-50, Wergo 1988, 1, hereafter
cited as Nancarrow, Studies.
- 2. Nancarrow, Studies, 35, 1.
- 3. Georgia Clark, interview by Gretchen Gearhart, Fayetteville, Arkansas,
October 9, 1994; mayor's office,
- phone interview by Gretchen Gearhart, Texarkana, Arkansas, October
- 4. Cole Gagne and Tracy Caras, Soundpieces: Interviews with America
- NJ, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1982), 282-283.