By Philip Lambert
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Nj XX XX Xj X X X X # Xj X X X X # E the swinging single reeds refuse to let it happen. Later, when the clarinet and flute play the same tune, it sounds completely at home in jazz style. By contrast, the next piece on the December 19 session, “A Little Girl Grows Up,” approaches the interplay from the other direction. Most of its gestures and rhythms sound more at home in a concert hall, starting with a series of stately chords in the harpsichord (Example 4a). This leads to a lyrical melody in the English horn and other passages with only occasional hints of popular idioms.
I don’t think I’m a masochist and, although I did have enough money at that time, I can’t believe I wouldn’t have been happy to get a little acceptance. (Life Story, 47–48) Wilder imagined that if he had persevered, “it might have turned me into a show writer, successful, probably” (The Search, 68). ” In any case, he was not destined for a singular career; he would never be just a show writer or songwriter, or just a composer of chamber music and art songs. Back in New York His mostly self-designed and self-administered basic musical education behind him, Wilder shifted his home base back to New York City shortly after the Haywire experience in 1933.
He had probably also heard, or at least knew about, Stravinsky’s appropriations of ragtime idioms in Ragtime for Eleven Instruments (1917–18) or Histoire du soldat (1918). Closer to Wilder’s octet conception was Milhaud’s La création du monde (1923), an orchestral score (ballet) replete with jazz-inspired syncopations and melodic inflections. 9 Wilder’s advantage was that he could approach the hybridization from either direction. As an experienced dance-band arranger, he could use a pop-style con- ception as a starting point and introduce elements of concert music, perhaps an elegant soaring melody or a rhythm that stays on the beat.
Alec Wilder by Philip Lambert