Long before the “76 Trombones” made famous by “The Music Man,” there were the “76 flutes” of Henry Brant. At least that’s what the score of his flute ensemble piece “Angels and Devils” called for, although when it received its premiere performance on today’s date in 1933, a much smaller group assembled on the stage of Carnegie Chapter Hall in New York City.
In February of 1933, American composer Henry Brant was 29 years old, and must have been a pretty good pianist as well: On the same program he accompanied soprano Judith Litante in the premiere performances of three songs by the then 58-year old composer Charles Ives.
Brant says that as a young composer he was much influenced by the music and ideas of Ives, adding to these an expanded awareness of the possibilities of spatial music, inspired in part by the colossal ensembles called for by Hector Berlioz in some of his grander sacred works, which Brant heard performed in the great cathedrals of Europe. Many of Brant’s most famous works involve multiple ensembles of players performing with and against each other in large indoor and outdoor venues.
“I had come to feel that single-style music could no longer evoke the new stresses, layered insanities, and multi-directional assaults of contemporary life on the spirit,” explains Brant.
Music Played in Today's Program
Henry Brant (1913 - 2008)Angels and DevilsBonita Boyd, flute; Eastman Wind Ensemble; Donald Hunsberger, cond.Centaur 2014