ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY; Volume 54, Winter 1995, p. 457

Conlon Nancarrow:

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 10, 1994.
4. Cole Gagne and Tracy Caras, Soundpieces: Interviews with America Composers (Metuchen,
NJ, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1982), 282-283.

 

 

 

 

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