Something to Live For

Something to Live For : The Music of Billy Strayhorn

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Something to Live For investigates and analyzes the entire oeuvre of Billy Strayhorn. Nearly seventy musical examples, drawn directly from his original autograph scores, provide insight into the development of his style, in his unique and often advanced harmonic language, and in his authoritative orchestral technique. The book traces the origin of Strayhorn's music, with its roots in European and American idioms, and uncovers hitherto unknown works that cast a new light on his development as a composer and orchestrator. Musicologist Walter van de Leur addresses the mythical, 30-year collaboration of Strayhorn and Ellington. Through ground breaking research on the surviving autograph scores of the two composers, Van de Leur redefines their unequalled musical partnership. The author argues that, as opposed to generally accepted views, Ellington and Strayhorn were not musical alter-egos who composed in a telepathic way. On the contrary, they were two distinctly individual composers who worked from different musical perspectives. This book details how those distinctions stem from the respective musical background of the two composers and how that affected their collaboration. According to the author, the differences between Ellington's and Strayhorn's music are clearly audible. Yet, because Ellington, the main interpreter of his collaborator's music, has played such a crucial role in our perception of Strayhorn's work, those differences have eluded most listeners. Something to Live For untangles Strayhorn from Ellington's shadow, identifies all of his contributions to the Ellington repertory, and points listeners to the most salient features that distinguish Strayhorn's musical style from Ellington's. Revelatory appendices, including a chronological listing of over five hundred different Strayhorn compositions and arrangements recorded by Ellington, a detailed listing of all of Strayhorn's compositions in manuscript and on record, complete the book. This book contains unique photographs as well as reproductions of autograph scores in Strayhorn's and Ellington's hand.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 703.06g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 11 hts, 69 music samples
  • 0195124480
  • 9780195124484
  • 1,168,335

Review quote

"An epochal work--groundbreaking, fearless, sensitive, and exquisitely modulated, much like the music it illuminates. Something to Live For is the best possible book about Billy Strayhorn's art and a highwater mark of music scholarship."--David Hajdu, author of Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn"The celebration of Billy Strayhorn's life and legacy continues with Walter van de Leur's magnificent new book. Something to Live For immediately takes its place as an absolutely indispensable addition to the history of the Ellington orchestra and American music in general."--Ellingtonia"Richly provocative.... There is a real intellectual hunger in this exploration to identify the unique glory and lasting contribution Strayhorn made to the art of jazz.... Jazz musician and historian Van de Leur subjects Billy Strayhorn's musical arrangements to deep scrutiny and credibly finds them original, undervalued, frequently misattributed, and tasting of the sublime."--Kirkus Review"In this exemplary work, combining meticulous, dedicated research and brilliant analytic illumination, Van de Leur has brought Strayhorn, the musician, and his legacy into full and unobstructed view at last, thus deepening our understanding of Ellingtonia. Indispensable!"--Dan Morgenstern, Director, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University"For lovers of Ellingtonia, jazz, and twentieth-century music, Walter van de Leur's new book is indeed Something to Live For. The first in-depth study of the music of composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn, this volume is meticulously researched, clearly written, and enriched with excerpts from Strayhorn's autograph scores. For the first time, we can learn the details of Strayhorn's monumental 28-year contribution to the Duke Ellington Orchestra and music he wrote for other contexts. Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn sets a new standard of excellence for jazz musicology."--Bill Kirchner, Composer-arranger, saxophonist, jazz historian, producer, educator, and editor of The Oxford Companion to Jazzshow more

About Walter van de Leur

Walter van de Leur is the artistic co-leader of the Dutch Jazz Orchestra, in Hilversum, The Netherlands; a coordinator at the Dutch Jazz Archive in Amsterdam; he is also the founder editor of Billy Strayhorn Manuscript Editions (BSME) in Pittsburgh.show more

Table of contents

1. Fantastic Rhythm: The Pittsburgh Years ; 2. The Renaissance of Arranging: First Works for and with Duke Ellington ; 3. The Strayhorn Effect: A New Way of Writing for Jazz Orchestra ; 4. Thinking with the Ear: Strayhorn's Musical Fingerprints ; 5. Writing and Arranging Companions: Credited and Uncredited Collaborations ; 6. "He is He and I am Me": The Ellington-Strayhorn Collaboration ; 7. Wounded Love: Away from the Ellington Organization ; 8. Masterpieces by STrayhorn: Writing for Albums ; 9. The Whodunnit Game: The Mature Style of Billy Strayhorn ; 10. North by Southwest: The Final Years ; 11. Conclusion ; Appendix A: Score of Scores: Manuscripts at the Duke Ellinton and Billy Strayhorn Collections ; Appendix B: Billy Strayhorn's Works on Record ; Appendix C: Billy Strayhorn's Works on Record (posthumously premiered) ; Appendix D: The Compositions of Billy Strayhornshow more

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