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Norman Cazden (Composer, Arranger)

Born: September 23, 1914 - New York City, New York, USA
Died: August 18, 1980 - Bangor, Maine, USA

The American pianist, musicologist, and composer; Norman Cazden, the son of Russian immigrants, studied piano with Ernest Hutcheson and composition with Bernard Wagenaar at the Juilliard Graduate School in New York City (teacher's diploma, 1932). During his Julliard years (actually since 1926), Cazden was active in the intellectual life of the city - playing for Blitzstein shows, composing for modern dance companies, and writing serious compositions, including a symphony. He then attended City College in New York (B.S., 1943). From 1944 he studied composition with Walter Piston and Aaron and took courses in musicology at Harvard University (Ph.D., 1948, with the dissertation Musical Consonance and Dissonance on whether musical preferences are innate and universal or culturally based). After studying musicology with Charles Seeger and becoming friends with Herbert Haufrecht and Aaron Copland, he came eventually to the study of folk song. Along with Haufrecht and Copeland, Cazden composed significant works based on folk themes.

From 1934 to 1949 Norman Cazden often appeared as a solo concert pianist and accompanist. He was introduced to Camp Woodland in the Catskill Mountains around 1941 by its musical director, Herbert Haufrecht, whom Cazden succeeded in that position in 1945. He remained as musical director until 1960, and with camp director Norman Studer and Herbert Haufrecht collected the material for Folk Songs of the Catskills.

Norman Cazden taught at Julliard School of Music, Vassar College, Peabody Conservatory, University of Michigan and since 1950 at the University of Illinois at Springfield. In 1953 he was denied a chance at tenure because of FBI investigations for the House Un-American Activities Committee, and he was fired from his job at the university. He testified in Washington, was blacklisted, and was denied academic positions for the next 16 years. During this period he taught privately theory and piano and worked on research into folk music. The Cazden familyís last summer at Camp Woodland was in 1960, and in 1961 they moved to Lexington, Massachusetts, while Normanís wife Courtney went back to school and subsequently took a teaching position. In 1969, Norman and Courtney parted ways, and he took a position at the University of Maine in Orono.

Norman Cazden composed over 100 compositions for piano and other instruments, including operetta, incidental music, two symphonies, two chamber concerts, a horn suite, a suite for oboe and strings, a horn and two string quintets, a string quartet, sonatas and other chamber works and piano pieces. He was a nationally known composer and won several prestigious musicology awards. His music is broadly expressive with polyphony and expanded tonality and his melodies often contain folk elements. His compositions reflect some interesting technical ideas in a general format of acceptable modernity.

Norman Cazden was interested in psychology and aesthetics as well as composition and performance, integrating historical and theoretical concepts with practice. He also published several collections of folk songs and dances: Folk Songs of the Catskills (with H. Haufrecht and N. Studer, Albany, 1982), Dances from Woodland, The Abelard Folksong Book, Three Catskill Ballads for Orchestra, A Book of Nonsense Songs (New York, 1961), American Folk Songs for Children and A Catskill Songbook.


The Lonely Ones, ballet (1944)
Dingle Hill, dramatic cantata (1958)
Incidental music to The Merry Wives of Windsor (1962) and The Tempest (1963)

6 Definitions (1930-1939)
Preamble (1938)
On the Death of a Spanish Child (1939)
3 Dances (1940)
Stony Hollow (1944)
Symphony (1948)
3 Ballads (1949)
Songs from the Catskills for Band (1950)
Woodland Valley Sketches (1960); Adventure (1963)
Chamber Concerto for Clarinet and Strings (1965)
Viola Concerto (1972)

String Quartet (1936)
Concerto for 10 Instruments (1937)
3 chamber sonatas for Clarinet and Viola (1938)
Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio (1939)
String Quintet (1941)
Horn Sonata (1941)
Flute Sonata (1941)
Suite for Violin and Piano (1943)
Suite for 2 Trumpets, Horn, Baritone Horn, Trombone, and Tuba (1954)
Quintet for Oboe and String Quartet (1960)
2 Elizabethan Suites for 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone, and Tuba (1964) and for String Quartet (1965)
Wind Quintet (1966)
Piano Trio (1969)
Bassoon Sonata (1971)
English Horn Sonata (1974)
Tuba Sonata (1974)

Choral works and folk-music arrangements

Norman Cazden (left) and Herbert Haufrecht [01]

Source: Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); All Music Guide (Author: Lynn Vought); German Wikipedia Website (December 2009), English translation by Aryeh Oron (November 2011); Fogler Library at University of Maine Website; New York Folklore Society Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (November 2011)

Norman Cazden: Short Biography | Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Norman Cazden - Biography (AMG)
Fogler Library: Finging Guide to the Norman Cazden Collection

Norman Cazden (Wikipedia) [German]
New York Folklore Society: Camp Woodland



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