American Folk Songs Arranged for Voice and Piano; with: 1947 ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds. Paul Bowles, John Edmunds.
American Folk Songs Arranged for Voice and Piano; with: 1947 ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds
American Folk Songs Arranged for Voice and Piano; with: 1947 ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds
American Folk Songs Arranged for Voice and Piano; with: 1947 ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds

American Folk Songs Arranged for Voice and Piano; with: 1947 ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds

New York City: Works Progress Administration Music Project, [1939]. Musical score, measuring 13.25 x 11 inches: 16. Double leaves, printed recto only, reproducing typed and handwritten elements of the original in facsimile. Ownership signature of John Edmunds to top righthand corner of front wrapper. Ozalid paper toned with some smudging, spine rubbed, wrappers chipped and lightly soiled. With: single-page ALS from Paul Bowles to John Edmunds, measuring 8.25 x 6 inches, dated January 29, 1947.

First edition of these Depression-era arrangements of four traditional folk songs by American writer Paul Bowles (1910-1999). Although best remembered for his expatriate glamor and unsettling novel The Sheltering Sky, Bowles first made his mark as a music critic and composer. A student of Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson, Bowles wrote regularly for Modern Music in the 1930s, and scored productions for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Theatre Project. During his time with the WPA, Bowles adapted a series of traditional American folk songs for voice and piano. The four Bowles arrangements included here are “Caroline (Creole Song),” “Laws a Massey! (Negro Reel),” “The Mary Golden Tree,” and “The Rose of Alabama.” Harrison Johnson provides notes throughout the score, citing Bowles’s sources and offering historical context. This copy bears the ownership signature of American composer John Edmunds (1913-1986). It is accompanied by a January 1947 letter from Bowles to Edmunds, in which Bowles replies (belatedly) to an inquiry about a project involving the singer Romolo Di Spirito: “I have not seen De Spirito [sic], nor anyone who knows anything about the projected concerts. I hope the plans are progressing. You might, if you have time, keep me posted about them.” John Edmunds would later head the Americana Collection at the New York Public Library from 1957 to 1961. Although there is no additional mark of provenance, both score and letter belonged to Andreas Brown of the Gotham Book Mart. OCLC locates only three holdings: CUNY, UC-Santa Cruz, and the University of New Mexico. In addition to this score, the WPA produced two other photomechanically reproduced collections of American folk songs arranged by Bowles, both similarly scarce: one containing twelve songs, and one containing songs scored for piano only. A very good example of a genuine modernist rarity.

Price: $2,500.00

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