A Performer’s Guide to the Piano Music of Samuel Adler
Title Details

240 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

A Performer’s Guide to the Piano Music of Samuel Adler

by Bradford P. Gowen

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
This comprehensive study of the piano music of award-winning American composer Samuel Adler will interest pianists, teachers, and anyone interested in the musical art of our day.

American composer Samuel Adler has composed a huge and multi-faceted body of works ranging from symphonies, concertos, and oratorios to solos for every standard Western instrument, to a rich trove of vocal and choral music, to pieces for students. Among them, encompassing his compositional life of some seventy years, is an array of works for the piano: three concertos; fifteen solo pieces and sets of pieces; a sonata for two pianos; and four volumes of music for beginning and intermediate players.

Bradford Gowen writes about each of these works with the knowledge of one who has studied, performed, and recorded Adler's piano music and has previously written about it.

He begins with an overview of stylistic and pianistic traits found throughout these pieces and then examines each work chronologically according to genre, in a two-part format. The first part is an essay on the work's style, emotional content, and unique features, which at the same time places the work in the context of other music by Adler and by additional composers from the present and past eras. The second part, informal and practical, is directed to a pianist interested in getting to know this music. As a "lesson" on the piece, it offers specific suggestions for practicing and interpretation and many solutions to technical challenges. Rounding out the book are an in-depth interview with the composer plus six invaluable appendices.


A Note to the User of This Book

Samuel Adler: A Biographical Sketch

Interview with Samuel Adler


1. Pedagogical Volumes
Gradus Books I and II (1971)
Gradus Book III (1981)
The Sense of Touch (1982)

2. Solo Works through 2000
Capriccio (1954)
Sonata Breve (1963)
Canto VIII (1973)
Sonatina (1979)
"Thy Song Expands My Spirit" (1980)
The Road to Terpsichore: A Suite of Dances (1989)
Three Piano Preludes (1999-2000)

3. Solo Works since 2001
Four Composer Portraits (2001)
Festschrift (2007)
Fantasy for Piano (2013)
Four Choreographies (2017)
Five Short Occasional Pieces (2018)
"Bagatelle for Jürgen" (2020)
Variation on "America the Beautiful" (2020)
Music for the Young and the Young at Heart (2021)

4. For Two Pianos
Duo Sonata for Two Pianos (1983)

5. For Piano and Orchestra
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (no. 1) (1983)
Second Piano Concerto (1996)
Piano Concerto no. 3 for Piano and String Orchestra (2003)

Appendix 1: Piano Music Graded Approximately according to Technical Difficulty
Appendix 2: Chamber Works with Piano
Appendix 3: Partial List of Works for Voice and Piano, Selected by the Composer
Appendix 4: Works for Other Keyboard Instruments
Appendix 5: Chronological Representative Selection of Adler Works for Other Instruments and Ensembles

Selected Bibliography


About the Author

Pianist BRADFORD GOWEN teaches at the University of Maryland School of Music.

"A practical and useful book for all levels of pianists, from students to seasoned performers. Gowen's engaging prose and clear enthusiasm for Adler's music make reading about the works enjoyable as well as instructive. This book will be especially useful to institutions with strong piano and music education programs." Carol Lubkowski, MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES



October 2022


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Title Details

240 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press