Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Sunday, March 19

Carpenter perambulates

Synopsis

It's time once again for our "Composer Quiz": Name a famous American composer who was also a successful businessman. If you answered insurance executive "Charles Ives," Jay will show you what's under the box. But if your answer was "John Alden Carpenter," vice president of George B. Carpenter and Co., supplies and equipment dealer, we'll just pull back the curtain and show you all your prizes!

John Alden Carpenter was born in 1876 near Chicago, and, after studies out East, entered his father's business back home, eventually becoming its Vice President. Fortunately for the budding composer, the firm was largely run by his brothers, and Carpenter had enough free time to devote to his music. On today's date in 1915, the Chicago Symphony premiered Carpenter's first big orchestral work, a suite entitled "Adventures in a Perambulator." (You get extra points if you knew a perambulator is a baby buggy.)

Anyway…

Carpenter's "pram" piece was a big success, and he wrote a string of other popular works, including a ballet based on the "Krazy Kat" comic strip of his day, and one entitled "Skyscrapers," a jazzy and topical tribute to the transformation of urban America in the 1920s.

Unlike the unconventional Charles Ives, who toiled away in obscurity, the more conventional Carpenter was very famous in his day. Ironically, while Ives' fame only increased after his death in 1954, when Carpenter died in 1951, his music rapidly fell from fashion.

Music Played in Today's Program

John Alden Carpenter (1876 -1951) Adventrues in a Perambulator National Symphony of Ukraine; John McLaughlin Williams, cond. Naxos 8.559065

Additional Information

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