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PSNY Celebrates George Perle's Centenary

Composer, theorist, musicologist, and educator, George Perle was born 100 years ago this May. One of the most notable composers who utilized serial compositional techniques in the twentieth century, Perle left his own distinctive mark developing what some have called "twelve-tone tonality". While still assuring the circulation of all possible chromatic tones, Perle set up internal hierarchies that established unique tonal centers within each work; in this way, Perle came quite close to achieving an ideal of the Serialist movement: to make each piece of music autonomous, breathing with its own internal logic, a glimpse at a possible utopic future. 

Perle took a leading role in establishing scholarship on European modernism in America. With Igor Stravinsky, he co-founded the Alban Berg society in 1968, undertaking crucial research on Berg's works such as Lulu and the Lyric Suite. Like fellow PSNY composer René Leibowitz, Perle took on the burden of promoting European modernist techniques in an environment that wasn't always receptive; to the daunting face of mathematical serialism, Perle added a distinctively approachable American edge. 

We're honored to offer two works by Perle for immediate download: his Woodwind Quintet No. 3, composed in 1967, and his Sonata a Quattro, commissioned and premiered by New York's Da Capo Chamber Players in 1982. Check out a recording of the Sonata a Quattro, on an album shared with another American modernist master, Elliott Carter. 



On May 21, The New York Public Library hosts the Da Capo Chamber Players, along with the Sylvan Winds, cellist Fred Sherry and pianists Michael Brown and Michael Boriskin for a George Perle Centennial Celebration concert. The event includes performances of several works, including Sonata a Quattro, as well as a display of Perle's manuscripts from the library's collection.

 

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