1st Edition

The Many Worlds of David Amram Renaissance Man of American Music

Edited By Dean Birkenkamp Copyright 2024
    322 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    322 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In a career spanning 70 years, composer, conductor, and multi-instrumentalist David Amram is hailed today as the creator of symphonic works, chamber music, and two operas; as a brilliant jazz and vocal improviser; and the composer of memorable stage and film scores. He has collaborated with many leading musicians, playwrights, artists, actors, and writers, including Jack Kerouac, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Bernstein, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Arthur Miller, Elia Kazan, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Elmira Darvarova, Paul Newman, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, and hundreds more. An innovator who blended jazz and global folk styles with classical traditions, Amram’s career also emphasizes the creative potential of joyful collaboration. This new book offers a fascinating and wide-ranging picture of Amram’s work and influence, from the rich, pioneering days of 1950s America to today’s embrace of international cultures. It shows how Amram’s gift as an on-stage spontaneous creator enriches his formal classical composing. With multi-media links for readers, it is possible to see and hear film and audio highlights and adventures described in this book by important conductors, musicians, performers, scholars, and journalists. This book is the essential guide to a major figure in contemporary music.

    Part I: Introductions

    1. How to Explain David Amram? by Dean Birkenkamp
    2. "All Joy" An Introduction to the Life-Artistry of David Amram, by Gary Lippman
    3. Part II: David Amram’s Symphonic and Chamber Compositions

    4. Amram’s Concert Hall Compositions, by Dean Birkenkamp
    5. David Amram’s Chamber Music, by Elmira Darvarova
    6. Premiering New Amram Compositions, by Kenneth Radnofsky
    7. This Land: Symphonic Variations on a Song by Woody Guthrie, by Laura Schulkind
    8. Sir James Galway: Commissioning and Premiering Giants of the Night, by Keith Marshall
    9. Conducting Amram’s Violin Concerto, by JoAnn Falletta
    10. Letting an Orchestra Feel Free and Inspired: The Art of Amram’s Conducting, by Howard Wall
    11. A Promising Old Composer: The Power of Creativity in Later Life, by John Leland
    12. Beethoven to Boxing: Artistry in Two Worlds, by Larry Merchant
    13. Part III: Opera and Theater Contributions of David Amram

    14. From Theater to Opera, by Dean Birkenkamp
    15. David Amram: A Jewish Life in Music: The Final Ingredient and other Important Compositions, by Jeff Janeczko
    16. The Essence of David Amram, by Keir Dullea
    17. Remembering the Premiere of Amram’s Opera Twelfth Night, by Christopher Alden and David Alden
    18. Filming Twelfth Night, by Lawrence Kraman
    19. Part IV: Amram the Jazz Performer and Composer

    20. A Lifetime in Jazz, by Dean Birkenkamp
    21. David Amram’s Early Jazz Years and Collaborations, by Marc Myers
    22. Amram and Cuba: Varieties of Afro-Cuban and Latin Musics, by Arturo O’Farrill
    23. Innovations: Jamming with Amram Across the Decades, by Mark Morganelli
    24. David Amram is a Musical Instrument, by Malachy McCourt
    25. Now is the Time as Creative Manifestation of Consciousness,
    26. by Hugh Ragin

    27. No More Walls: The Ever-Wider World of David Amram, by David Cole
    28. Part V: The Songs of David Amram

    29. From Orchestral Compositions to Spontaneous Lyrics, by Dean Birkenkamp
    30. A Composer’s Way with Words, by Hassan Melehy
    31. The Songs of David Amram: Jazz, Classical, Film, and Operatic Compositions, by Gerald Bieritz
    32. Scat and Make-Up Songs: The Art of One-Time Only Rap Reporting, by David Amram
    33. Bourbon is Vegetarian, By Kurt Elling and David Amram
    34. Part VI: The Whole Wide World of Amram’s Folk Performance

    35. Performing the World’s Music, by Dean Birkenkamp
    36. Performing Folk Music in Many Venues, by John McEuen
    37. Remembering Odetta: 40 Years of Midnight Adventures, with Kris Kristofferson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and Others, by David Amram
    38. Melding Folk and Symphonic: Commissioning This Land, by Nora Guthrie
    39. The Dean of Hangout-ology at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, by Deana McCloud
    40. A Unique Performer in the Folk World, by Barry Ollman
    41. Musical Adventures with David Amram, by Radoslav Lorkovic
    42. David Amram Doesn’t Play Music, by John Cooper
    43. Part VII: Amram the Author—and His Collaborations with Writers

    44. David Amram’s Literary Endeavors, by Dean Birkenkamp
    45. Langston Hughes, Jack Kerouac, David Amram, by Ronald Martinetti
    46. Let Us Remember: Review of the Cantata by Langston Hughes and David Amram, by Paul Hertelendy
    47. Vibrations, Musical Differences, Life with Others, by Charles Lemert
    48. On Amram’s Book Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat, by Frank McCourt
    49. "Life is Even More Fun at 90" Amram and the Kerouac Legacy, by Holly George Warren
    50. Part VIII: Hollywood and Beyond: Amram’s Film Scores

    51. From the Village to Hollywood, by Dean Birkenkamp
    52. Frankenheimer, Sinatra, and the Scoring of The Manchurian Candidate, by Neil Hickey
    53. The Manchurian Candidate: The Novel, the Film, the Music, by Geoff Wills
    54. Cinema’s Elusive Musical Poet: Scoring Splendor in the Grass, by Steve Vertlieb
    55. Part IX: Amram’s Legacy: Mixing Musical Styles and Performance Traditions

    56. Hearing a Singular Note in the Universe, by Dean Birkenkamp
    57. Amram’s Musical Bouillabaisse, by Larry Kirwan
    58. At Home Around the World, by David Amram
    59. David Amram and Native American Musical Performance, by Matoaka Little Eagle
    60. Native Flutes and Friendship, by Louis Mofsie
    61. Diamonds in the Sidewalk: Kerouac, Amram, and the Bells of Hell, by Robin Hirsch
    62. The Village and the Man Who Makes It Live On, By Elizabeth Thomson
    63. An Icon of Inclusion and Pioneer of World Music, by Douglas Brinkley
    64. Part X: Coda

    65. You are Only as Old as You Make Other People Feel, by David Amram


    Dean Birkenkamp has worked for 44 years in book publishing. Currently he is a Senior Editor with Routledge Publishers. He was the Founder and President of Paradigm Publishers, where he and his staff were fortunate to publish more than 800 books by leading scholars, journalists, musicians, and public intellectuals. An amateur pianist, he studied anthropology and music theory and composition at the University of Illinois—Champagne-Urbana. His previous book is Uncommon Sense from the Writings of Howard Zinn, with Howard Zinn and Wanda Rhudy.

    "To do justice to the extraordinary depth and breadth of the art of the incomparable David Amram, one would need an encyclopedia--but this amazing book comes close. In essays of musicians from all over the globe a mosaic of this polymath emerges in vivid color. From chamber music to folk songs, from opera to the Jewish tradition, from jazz to Afro-Cuban culture, David’s music glows with absolute genius and his radiant love of humanity. A beautiful must-read volume, brilliantly curated by Dean Birkenkamp."

    —JoAnn Falletta, Grammy Award-winning Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra


    Praise for David Amram:

    "Amram is a one-man folk festival…who was multicultural before multiculturalism existed."

    —The New York Times


    "Amram dazzled with his versatility .... One could be but awed by his range."

    —The London Times


    "David Amram is a musical catalyst and leader on a par with Leonard Bernstein, Pete Seeger, and Dizzy Gillespie."

    —Minneapolis Star & Tribune


    "A Godsend to those who believe in the power of music to change lives and inspire."

    —Wynton Marsalis

    "David Amram is one of the most versatile and skilled musicians America has ever produced."

    —Washington Post


    "David Amram is the Renaissance man of American music."

    —The Boston Globe


    "Truly American music. Amram, through his genius has built a marvelous musical tapestry, full of wonderful sounds and colors."

    —Eugene Ormandy

    "David Amram is a man of great humanity, wisdom, and generosity. A great story- teller. His music is magic. It takes you to another universe."

    —Barbara Kopple, Academy Award-winning film maker 

    {Amram has} engaged with almost every identifiable genre – jazz, folk, rock, country, blues, Latin, the many variants of native America, to name only some. This composer’s lifelong romance with music of all colours, creeds and cultures has been a passionate affair. It has seen him promiscuously cross-fertilise the sounds of every continent in a simmering pot of melody and lyric, rhythm and rhyme, and I think Dean Birkenkamp’s engrossing, many-layered overview does fine justice to this many-faceted man and his diverse attainments.

    —Simon Warner, Research Fellow, University of Leeds, U. K., in Rock and Beat Generation