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SIXTY YEARS IN LIMBO: THE REDISCOVERY OF TAMANAR

 

by Benjamin Folkman

 

 

Most composers are extremely protective of their music, keeping every manuscript and preserving more-or-less complete libraries of published editions. Thus when the composer Phillip Ramey first called on Paul Bowles in 1982, in the company of a pianist searching out Bowles’ keyboard music, he was startled by the substantial gaps in Bowles’ personal collection.  Unearthing some pieces in Mexican idiom, Bowles admitted that, since his expatriation to Tangier, Morocco, he had lost track of more than half his output.  With resignation, he declared that the missing scores were probably gone forever.  In later discussions about the typical musical language of his piano works, with their neoclassical clarity and folklike directness, Bowles told Ramey that a lost piece entitled Tamanar was quite different in style.  There, for once, he had attempted an avant-garde exercise in truculent, dissonant modernism.  However, Bowles had not laid eyes on the manuscript of Tamanar since the 1930s, and where it was—in the event that it still existed at all—was anyone’s guess.

Several years later, the pianist Irene Herrmann visited Bowles on a similar quest for scores. On hearing of the lacunae in his collection, she volunteered to begin a comprehensive hunt for his compositions.  That we now have access to a sizeable body of Bowles’ music is primarily due to Herrmann’s spadework; and Bowles rewarded her efforts by making her his musical executor and, eventually, musical heir. 

In her researches, Herrmann spent long hours in libraries, also sending inquiries to publishers who had once issued Bowles’ works, and consulting with Ramey, who had become one of Bowles’ closest friends.  Her position as the composer’s designated executor opened doors, especially after her Koch CD (1995) of several Bowles piano and chamber works.  In the spring of 1996, the son of a recently deceased New York music publisher sent Herrmann several Bowles manuscripts he had found in a closet.  Among them was Tamanar, perfectly preserved through six decades of oblivion.

 

Irene Herrmann was aware of Tamanar’s singular position in the Bowles canon and brought Ramey a photocopy of the score. Ramey believed that Bowles would enjoy hearing the long-lost piece as soon as possible, so he asked the pianist Gustavo Romero to make an informal tape of Tamanar to be sent to the composer in Tangier. For that recording, the present writer put Tamanar into musical typeset, using the Finale computer program. The cassette was duly completed, and several weeks later Romero gave the public premiere of Tamanar in Berne, Switzerland.

 

Romero visited Tangier that summer, and there he, Bowles, Herrmann and Ramey went over the typeset version at the piano.  The composer, gratified by the rediscovery of Tamanar if somewhat bemused by its uncompromising severity, decided on definitive tempos for the piece and provided a few expressive markings for incorporation into later printouts.

 

With Herrmann’s permission, the authorized score was posted on the Finale Showcase's Web site, and there it may be accessed by Windows users via the link provided below. Downloading the Finale Reader™ (provided by the site at no cost) will enable the visitor to listen to a MIDI realization of the piece, to print out a copy of the score (which includes a title page and program note) and, if desired, to download the full audio-visual computer file of Tamanar.

 

Alternatively, visitors may download a version in Adobe Acrobat PDF file format from this site, which contains no audio information but gives the complete musical text of Tamanar, preceded by a title page and program note.

 

Copyright © 2003, Benjamin Folkman

 

 

BENJAMIN FOLKMAN is well known as an annotator and lecturer on music.  He is the president of The Tcherepnin Society and the author-editor of the book Alexander Tcherepnin: A Compendium.  Folkman was a Gold Record winner for his work on the landmark electronic album Switched-On Bach.  His Micropartita for piano was recorded by Paul Posnack for Crystal Records, and he has made an orchestration of Paul Bowles' Tamanar.

 

Read the Program Note for Paul Bowles' Tamanar by Benjamin Folkman.

 

From Finale Music Showcase, the Finale Reader™ software program may be downloaded for free. After installation of this program to your computer, the full music score of Tamanar may be accessed. followed and listened to after searching and locating it in the Classical–Early 20th Century category.

 

View an Adobe Acrobat PDF file of the Paul Bowles' music score for Tamanar for Piano.

All content on The Authorized Paul Bowles Web Site is Copyright © 2014, by PaulBowles.org and the Estate of Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles and by other copyright holders as indicated. By accessing www.PaulBowles.org, the official Paul Bowles and Jane Bowles Web site, you agree to all Terms and Conditions of Use. The recommended screen size is 1024 x 768 or greater, with the text size set to medium. All rights reserved.

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