Autograph musical manuscript. Full score. Large folio, 510 x 332 mm. First movement pp. 1-24; second movement pp. 25-29. In ink on 30-stave "Circle Blue Print Co." onion skin. With titling, "To Judd Cook," instrumentation to head, and copyright dated 2008 (added at a later date) to foot of first page of music. Signed and dated at conclusion of both movements "Boston, Mass. Oct-Dec. 1951." Slightly worn; edges soiled; a few small stains; central horizontal crease.
- Autograph musical manuscript of first movement only. Full score. Folio. 59 pp. in 3 fascicles. In ink on 24-stave "G Schirmer Royal Brand No. 61" paper. With copyright dated 2008 to foot of first page of music of each fascicle. Autograph annotations, corrections, deletions, etc. in pencil throughout. Signed and dated at conclusion "October-December 1951." Slightly worn; occasional minor stains.
- Dye-line copy of autograph musical manuscript of first and second movements. Full score. Blue spiral-bound wrappers. Large folio, 510 x 332 mm. With extensive annotations, corrections, deletions, etc., in lead and red pencil throughout, mostly in the composer's hand. Wrappers quite worn. Browned; outer edge of first leaf slightly dampstained; blank lower outer corners chipped.
- Autograph musical manuscript piano reduction. Folio. 26 pp. In pencil, with title "Symphonie No. 2 Boston 1951 Piano Reduction" in ink. With occasional autograph annotations and additional notation.
El-Dabh studied with the American composer and teacher Francis Judd Cooke (1910-1995) at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
"El-Dabh thought very highly of Francis Judd Cooke and his classes, in which the students were immersed fully in contemporary musical thought through analysis of the compositions of Béla Bartók, Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg, and Igor Stravinsky ... At the New England Conservatory, El-Dabh struggled to express the real meaning of what he was attempting to convey musically. The other students spoke in advanced theoretical terms, and El-Dabh, wanting to impress his mentor, attempted to explain his Symphony No. 2 to Cooke similarly. Cooke, who admired El-Dabh's employment of sustained violas throughout the piece, laughed at the less than articulate El-Dabh and responded, 'Don't worry. God is sitting at your elbow. Let the others worry. You know there are thousands of theorists who will figure it out, but it's perfect.' Cooke's comment had a tremendous effect on El-Dabh's compositional life, because it allowed him the freedom he required to compose."
"Symphony No 2 was dedicated to Francis Judd Cooke, who certainly did not maintain the typical professor-student relationship with El-Dabh. Cooke made a great many allowances for his prize pupil that he never would have considered granting to the average composition student ... " Seachrist: The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh, p. 32.
An Egyptian-born American composer, performer, ethnomusicologist, and educator, El-Dabh came to the United States in 1950, becoming a part of the New York music scene that included Cage, Varèse, and Hovhaness. He went on to study composition with Krenek, Copland, Dallapiccola and others.
"El-Dabh’s compositional style is influenced by Egyptian folk and traditional music. Frequently monodic, his works feature complex rhythms and much use of percussion. His career was launched in 1949 with a highly acclaimed performance of It is Dark and Damp on the Front (1948) at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo. In 1950 he made his début as a solo drummer, under the direction of Stokowski, in the first performance of Tahmeela. Other works include Clytemnestra (1958), One More Gaudy Night (1961), A Look at Lightning (1962) and Lucifer (1975), commissioned by Martha Graham; Sound and Light of the Pyramids of Giza (1960), written for the Cultural Ministry of the Egyptian Government and performed daily at the pyramids; and New Pharaoh’s Suite, written for the Cleveland Museum of Art to accompany a visiting Ethiopian exhibit from the Louvre (1996). Spectrum no.1 ‘Symphonies in Sonic Vibration’ (1955) and Leiyla and the Poet (1959) have been recorded." Denise A. Seachrist in Grove Music Online.
An early pioneer of electronic music, El-Dabh composed one of the earliest known works of tape music, or "musique concrète," in 1944, The Expression of Zaar.
"El-Dabh is probably the best known composer of Arabic descent and his works are highly regarded in Egypt, where he is considered the foremost living composer among that nation's 'second generation' of contemporary composers." Wikipedia.
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