Thinking about Music presents the thoughts, ideas, and musings of one of the most important American composers and musical pedagogues of this century. American music, the American artist, American musical education, and the interrelationship of all these with the broader American culture were the concern of Finney during nearly 50 years of an active professional life. This volume of Finney’s writings is one of the products of his year (1982-83) as holder of the Endowed Chair in Music at the University of Alabama. From among his many essays, public lectures, and speeches, twenty titles have been selected to express the essence of Finney’s thoughts about music and culture, some appearing here for the first time in print.
Born in Wells, Minnesota, December 23, 1906, reared in Valley Coty, North Dakota, and Minneapolis, where he studied with Donald N. Ferguson at the University of Minnesota, Finney received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton College. After study with Nadia Boulanger and Alban Berg in Europe, Finney returned home to a career as a composer and professor that has spanned six decades.
Finney offers the unique perspective of a major American composer covering the most important half-century (ca. 1930-1980) in the history of American music. Finney was an important observer and participant in that period of the flowering of American are music. As the volume spans a variety of subjects it is not strictly for musicians, and is particularly cogent on matters of the relationship of art, especially music, to American educations, and the relationship of the American artist to American culture. Finney was among the most successful teachers of composers in America’s history and his ideas about music, art and the training of musicians and artists, therefore, are particularly important.
Frederic Goossen is Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Studies in Music, School of Music, The University of Alabama.