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Ebook Information

Alec Wilder

Awards and Recognition:

• Certificate of Merit for Best Historical Research in Classical Music, Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), 2014

An all-embracing composer of popular and classical music

The music of Alec Wilder (1907-1980) blends several American musical traditions, such as jazz and the American popular song, with classical European forms and techniques. Stylish and accessible, Wilder's musical oeuvre ranged from sonatas, suites, concertos, operas, ballets, and art songs to woodwind quintets, brass quintets, jazz suites, and hundreds of popular songs. Wilder enjoyed a close musical kinship with a wide variety of musicians, including classical conductors such as Erich Leinsdorf, Frederick Fennell, and Gunther Schuller; jazz musicians Marian McPartland, Stan Getz, and Zoot Sims; and popular singers including Frank Sinatra, Mabel Mercer, Peggy Lee, and Tony Bennett.

In this biography and critical investigation of Wilder's music, Philip Lambert chronicles Wilder's early work as a part-time student at the Eastman School of Music, his ascent through the ranks of the commercial recording industry in New York City in the 1930s and 1940s, his turn toward concert music from the 1950s onward, and his devotion late in his life to the study of American popular songs of the first half of the twentieth century. The book discusses some of his best-known music, such as the revolutionary octets and songs such as "I'll Be Around," "While We're Young," and "Blackberry Winter," and explains the unique blend of cultivated and vernacular traditions in his singular musical language.


"This thoughtful and innovative study is a welcome addition to the body of material on this composer. Recommended."--Choice

"Saturated with rich, detailed research, this book stands as a clear and concise introduction to Alec Wilder's life and work that is carefully geared to appeal to both musicians and nonmusicians."--Jeffrey Magee, author of Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater


Philip Lambert is a professor of music at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. His other books include To Broadway, To Life! The Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick.

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