The Legacy of Arthur Farwell

Sudip Bose at The American Scholar:

Farwell’s music would lose many of these Romantic characteristics after his first journey to the West, undertaken in the autumn of 1903. He explored pueblos and Indian reservations, gazing in wonder at the sublime beauty of the desert—to Farwell, a love of Native American cultures was inseparable from a veneration of the land. Indeed, his first sight of the Grand Canyon put him in a rapturous state: “I sat there watching the lights and shadows play and change over the strange distances and depths of this wonderworld,” he later recalled, “and heard the unwritten symphonies of the ages past and the ages to come.” (Half a century later, the Sonoran Desert would similarly inspire Elliott Carter, who came away from a year’s sojourn in Arizona with one of his first masterpieces, the String Quartet No. 1.)

In 1904, Farwell traveled to Southern California, where he lived for a time with the anthropologist Charles Lummis. During this period, Farwell transcribed hundreds of Native American songs, primarily of the Cahuilla people, and composed some of his most popular pieces.

more here.