To study this composer is to study the tastes and trends of the American people from 1912 through World War II. This bio-bibliography presents Carpenter's life and works, as well as the contemporary views, reviews, and criticisms that reveal historical attitudes and prejudices of American life in those troubled times. Looking back several decades, it is possible to discover what was enduring, what was transitory, and what elements would become important to our present state of musical composition. This volume includes a biography, a list of works and performances, a discography, and an annotated bibliography and will be of interest to students of music, dancers and choreographers, history buffs, and music lovers alike. Throughout, one will find many gems from reviews.
Although Carpenter was an American with a Harvard education who quoted American popular tunes, he was also an eclectic. He wrote many works in a French impressionistic style, some with Germanic forms, and sometimes borrowing Spanish, Russian, and Oriental melodies, rhythms, and instruments. He was inspired by programmatic ideas and even wrote the program notes for his Adventures in a Perambulator suite. Humor and fantasy can be found in this suite, which depicts a baby's stroll through the park with its nurse, and in Krazy Kat, his jazz pantomime based on George Herriman's cartoon strip. Jazz first appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in the 1926 production of Skyscrapers, Carpenter's ballet of work and play. Carpenter was born in Park Ridge, Illinois, 28 February 1876 and died 26 April 1951 in Chicago. New recordings of his music have recently been issued in LP and CD formats.