Sunday, June 4, 2017

William Flanagan - Another August

June Barton, soprano
Noel Lee, piano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Newell Jenkins,

I have this piece on the original LP and have long wished I had it on a CD because I don't have a good turntable anymore.  Here are the liner notes to the recording this appears on.

The poem is by James Merrill,  I think Flanagan was a friend of his - he was Edward Albee's lover who, now that both of them are gone I don't mind pointing out, committed suicide.  His death at such a young age is one of the bigger losses American music suffered since Charles Tomlinson Griffes death at 35 from influenza.   Because Flanagan used such a high range in the soprano the words are mostly unintelligible which, while musically effective, leaves you out if you don't know what she's singing.

Here's James Merrill's recording of the poem.


  1. Ah, William Flanagan. The composer who wrote reviews for the same magazine I did, for years, that you've been mocking as an ad flyer since forever.

    THAT William Flanagan. Irony is well and truly dead.

    Nice guy, BTW.

    1. I doubt you were writing for it while he was still alive and we established yesterday that even the greatest artists find it necessary to slum, sometimes. And Flannagan weren't in the same income bracket that Charles Laughton was in.

      It was an ad flyer.

  2. An ad flyer that ran eight page feature stories on Elliot Carter.

  3. Just out of curiosity, Simps, what's the date of your first piece in it?

    It waren't no Musical Quarterly or Modern Music and it certainly wasn't Perspectives In New Music.

    It was a vehicle for selling stuff.

  4. All publucations that readers had to pay for were vehicles for selling stuff.

    Are you really so dumb you didn't know that?

    1. It's a question of the percentage of filling to shilling.

      So, if I looked it up, how many pieces did you get published in that rag in 1969 or before? And when did Flanagan's last piece in it appear? From what I understand his last year or so, he was falling apart, though I didn't hear a lot of lore concerning him among the musicians I knew who ran with that circle. They all figured he was despondent over breaking up with Albee. I don't blame either of them, though there were those who did blame E.A. I also don't blame the current music scene in NYC though the old "those mean old atonalists controlled everything" dodge was crap because that was always a load of crap that you can see was a load of crap when you look at actual concert and recital programs. If anything, it was the people who played music from the 19th and 18th centuries who neglected even conservative, tonal composers like Flannagan. And it wasn't as if the tonal composers weren't competing with each other for play time.

      You do know by that time Aaron Copland was an "atonal composer" though he'd written non-tonal music far earlier than that. He was also probably Flanagan's biggest promoter. Ol' Virgil Thomson had given up writing reviews and criticism regularly about fifteen years earlier.