Proposal for a series of books: American Composers in Their Own Words

May I propose a series of books, uniform in design and size (256 or 320 pages), selecting the best previously uncollected writings (mostly published, but also unpublished) of prominent American composers. These would include not only essays and reviews but letters and interviews, where relevant; it could also include imaginative writings, such as poetry. These books should open with an appropriate introductions, which can be a general biography or a more focused appreciation of the subject’s writing, and conclude with complete bibliographies of the subjectts writings. For a publisher that initiated this series but was unable to produce it, I edited Virgil Thomson and Dick Higgins edited Henry Cowell, both of which appeared with other presses. I later did a comparable volume on Aaron Copland. Among those major American figures worth publishing in this series would be Peter Schickele, Lou Harrison, Edgar Varese, Pauline Oliveros, Anthony Braxton, Earle Brown, Ned Rorem, Christian Wolff, Stephen Sondheim, Milton Babbitt, Leonard Bernstein, Steve Reich, Ruth Crawford (Seeger), and Charles Wuorinen. Once the series becomes established, we might consider reprinting other American composers’ comparable books that are no longer in print or not previously in paperback. One overarching theme is that the best American composers articulate proficiently. Consider publishing the books in groups of two, perhaps every six months, for at least two years, when we can measure whether it succeeded or failed. Sales would gain from the books appearing in a series and from the reputation of the publisher’s music list. I’d happily edit some of these myself (recalling my work with John Cage, Nicolas Slonimsky, Gertrude Stein, L. Moholy-Nagy, and E. E. Cummings, among others) and find others to do what they could do better than I.