EDWARD BURLINGAME HILL (1872-1960): Symphony No. 4 in E Flat, Op. 47, Concertinos for Piano and Orchestra No. 1, Op. 36 & No. 2, Op. 44, Divertimento for Piano and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 01Q002
Description: Hill is an important member of a 'lost generation' of American composers of the first half of the twentieth century; highly regarded and performed by major orchestras and conductors during their lifetimes, and virtually ignored ever since. In Hill's case this is especially strange, as he was also an important figure as a teacher, with an astonishing roster of students including Bernstein, Sessions, Piston and Carter. The Symphony is a substantial half-hour work in three-movements. Composed in 1940-41, it is rather conservative in idiom for its time; thoroughly tonal and Romantic in outlook. Structurally, though, it departs from convention in that themes are presented and then continuously developed in all three movements, avoiding sonata form or other symphonic traditions. The persistent presence of a thinly disguised variant of 'My Country, 'Tis of Thee' in the first movement may point to a nationalistic subtext, though there is no known programme. Aside from this it is hard to point to anything especially 'American' in Hill's idiom in this work, nor is there much trace of his studies in France; if anything, it is to northern Europe that the symphony seems to look for inspiration - there are passages of the first movement that recall Atterberg, for instance. The second movement adopts a serious tone, with a martial central section building an impressive climax, while the finale is breezy and energetic. The Divertimento shows Hill's interest in jazz, and here some French influence is apparent, while the two attractive little Concertinos, single span works in three distinct sections, are similar in style, with perhaps some Russian influence as well. Altogether attractive, well-crafted music, amply deserving rediscovery .Anton Nel (piano), Austin Symphony Orchestra; Peter Bay.