Recordings from the Henry Cowell Piano Festival that occurred over three days in February, 1997, where performers and composers from around the country were invited to play their favorite Cowell pieces, both well-known and unpublished. Featuring new music pianists Sarah Cahill, Joseph Kubera, Chris Brown and Sorrel Hays, the recording is live, full of ambient audience and performer sounds -- from the early chord cluster works to polyrhythmic counterpoint to work in the interior of the piano.
Henry Cowell invented and developed most of the extended techniques we have heard on and in the piano over the last seventy years. During his lifetime (1897-1965), he composed a vast amount of symphonic, chamber and vocal music, taught what were probably the first classes in world music, founded the remarkable New Music Quarterly, and wrote the pioneering theoretical book New Music Resources. But his most radical and influential contribution remains his large body of piano music, which he started writing as a teenager. As a young boy he earned enough money from menial jobs to buy a piano. He began to experiment by striking the keys with his fists and forearms; he named these chords "tone clusters" and wrote many compositions using them before the age of 15. We collected the works that portray Cowell the conceptual modernist, and Cowell as the haunted Irish poet-king.