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Morton Gould (Richmond Hill, New York, December 10, 1913 – Orlando, Florida, February 21, 1996) was a composer, pianist, director and arranger of the United States. p>
Born in Richmond Hill, New York, Gould was soon recognized as a child prodigy with skills for improvisation and composition. His first composition was published at six years. Gould studied at the Institute of Musical Art (now Juilliard School), although his most important teachers were Abby Whiteside and Vincent Jones.
During the Depression, Gould, a teenager, worked in New York City playing piano in movie theaters, as well as in vaudeville performances. When the Radio City Music Hall opened, Gould was hired as a pianist. In 1935, he directed and arranged orchestral programs for the radio station WOR Mutual Radio, in New York, combining popular programming with classical music and with which he reached a national audience when it was broadcast throughout the nation through the “Mutual Broadcasting System”.
In the 1940s, Gould appeared on the “Cresta Blanca Carnival” program, as well as on the CBS “Chrysler Hour,” where he reached an audience of millions.
Gould composed several ballets – Interplay (1945), Fall River Legend (1947) and I’m Old Fashioned (1983) -, scores for Broadway – Billion Dollar Baby (1945), Arms and the Girl (1950) – and also music for the cinema – Delightfully Dangerous (1945), Cinerama Holiday (1955) and Windjammer (1958) – and television. A passage from his work Spirituals for Orchestra (1959) was tuned to the Dossiers de l’écran, a debate program on French television that ran on air between 1967 and 1991, and was also used in the film Armée de Shadows de Melville in 1969.
Gould received throughout his life numerous commissions to compose, both of symphony orchestras of the United States, as of the Library of Congress of the United States, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Ballet Theater and the Ballet of the City of New York. His ability to perfectly combine multiple musical genres in the classical formal structure, while maintaining its distinctive elements, was second to none, and for that reason Gould received three commissions for various acts of the commemoration of the Bicentennial of the United States.
As a director, Gould was in charge of all the important orchestras in the United States, as well as Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan and Australia. With his orchestra, he recorded a great repertoire of classical music, including George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, in which he himself played the piano. He won a Grammy Award in 1966 for his recording of the First Symphony by Charles Ives, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 1983, Gould received the “Gold Baton Award” from the “American Symphony Orchestra League”. In 1986, he was named president of the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), a position he held until 1994. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Incorporating new styles as they emerged in his works, Gould wildly incorporated disparate elements, including a rapping narrator and a siren song of firefighters for a commission from the “Pittsburgh Youth Symphony.” In 1993, his work Ghost Waltzes was commissioned for the ninth “Van Cliburn International Piano Competition”. In 1994, Gould received the “Kennedy Center Honor,” in recognition of a lifetime of contributions to American culture.
In 1995, Gould was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work StringMusic, a composition commissioned by the (United States) in recognition of the final season of director Mstislav Rostropovich. In 2005, he was honored with the «Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award». He was also a member of the board of directors of the “American Symphony Orchestra League” and the “National Endowment for the Arts” in the music department.
Gould died in 1996 in Orlando, Florida at the age of 82.
The ASCAP Foundation has given its name to one of the prizes it grants to encourage the development of creators during the early stages of their careers, the «Morton Gould Young Composer Award». Since 1979, there have been numerous award-winning artists.
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