Enclosures: Harry Partch
A Multi-Media Portrait of the Unconventional Life of American Composer Harry Partch
NOTE: All of these items can be ordered from the Innova Recordings section on the American Composers Forum web site.
Dr. Philip Blackburn, Project Director
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Harry Partch (1901-1974) has won recognition as one of the 20th century's most important and influential American composers and musical thinkers. Innova is releasing important material from Partch's archives in a revelatory multi-part series produced by Partch scholar Dr. Philip Blackburn.

Currently, the series consists of a VHS video of four short films; a four-CD set of archival recordings of rare musical performances and the composer's own spoken commentary; and a 528 page limited-edition artbook chronicling the composer's life through photos, letters, lectures, sketches, drawings, reviews, and other fascinating Partch archival documents; and a video of Partch's masterpiece, Delusion of the Fury. See below for another anticipated release.

Enclosure One

innova 400 (VHS video) $24.00 + S&H

Four historic short color films made by Partch in collaboration with Madeline Tourtelot. This 74-minute VHS videotape (NTSC/U.S. format) includes a 12-page booklet containing Partch's own written introductions to these these films.

  • Rotate the Body in All Its Planes (1961): a study of graceful, dance-like gymnastics movements with specially composed music by Partch (9 minutes).
  • Music Studio—Harry Partch (1958): Partch takes the viewer on a tour of his Chicago music studio, and demonstrates his microtonal instruments. Includes his description of how the soundtrack for Windsong was made. Check out Partch's hand-painted window curtains and studio decorations! (17 minutes).
  • U.S. Highball (1958; completed 1968): Partch and his ensemble perform a dramatized account of riding the rails during the Depression on a transcontinental hobo trip to Chicago (24 minutes).
  • Windsong (1958): the ancient Greek legend of Daphne and Apollo, transported to Lake Michigan. Partch's soundtrack for this film later became known as 'Daphne of the Dunes' (17 minutes).

Enclosure Two

innova 401 (4-CD set) $45.00 + S&H

This 4-CD collection of archival Partch recordings includes works from the 1930's and '40's, a Partch lecture on just intonation, interviews with Partch and his comments on a variety of topics, a newly recorded performance of excerpts from his 1935 hobo journal Bitter Music, and a sound documentary featuring Partch at the piano and reminiscences by his friends.

Contents: (all tracks feature Harry Partch speaking or performing unless otherwise noted)

  • I am Harry Partch (r. 1950-51)
  • By the Rivers of Babylon (137th Psalm) (1943 revised version; r. 1945)
  • Texts and Music: A Wagnerian Wrestling Match (r. 1954)
  • Ten Li Po Lyrics (1930-33; r. 1947)
  • The Use of English in Serious Music (r. 1970)
  • Barstow (Eight Hitch-hiker's Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California) (1943; r. 1945)
  • San Francisco (A Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Street Corner on a Foggy Night in the Twenties) (1943; r. 1945)
  • Life is too precious to spend it with important people (r. 1970)
  • U.S. Highball: A Musical Account of Slim's Transcontinental Hobo trip (1943; r. 1946)
  • While my Heart Keeps Beating Time (1929; r. 1995) – Philip Blackburn, voice; Liz Schmidt, piano
  • San Francisco II (1943; r. 1955) — Illinois Performers' Workshop Ensemble
  • I'm going to start right off by giving you some sounds (r. 1966)
  • Two Settings from Joyce's Finnegans Wake (1944; r. 1945)
  • Dark Brother: Final Two Paragraphs from Thomas Wolfe's 'God's Lonely Man' (1942-43; r. 1945)
  • A Quarter-Saw Section of Motivations and Intonations (r. 1967)
  • Extracts from Bitter Music (1935-36; r. 1992) — Warren Burt, voice; Sheila Guymer, piano
  • Yankee Doodle Birds (r. 1970)
  • Y.D. Fantasy: On the Works of an Early American Tune (1944; r. 1945)
  • O Frabjous Day! (1954; r. 1954)
  • You are charged with being guilty. Are you drunk or not drunk? (r. 1953)
  • Ring Around the Moon: A Dance Fantasm for Here and Now (1949-40; revised version 1953: r. 1953)
  • Bless This House (1961; r. 1961)
  • Harry's Wake: audio bio-drama featuring Partch at the piano (r. 1966) and comments from friends at a memorial meeting (r. 1974)

Enclosure Three

innova 402 (528 page limited-edition artbook) Sale price $75.00 (Reg. $90.00

Lavishly produced from original documents in the Partch archive, a portrait-chronicle of Partch's life and work. Includes reproductions of Partch's writings, over 300 photographs by Partch and others, letters, lectures, sketches, drawings, and more. Enclosure 3 complements Partch's own Genesis of a Music, perennially in demand. Special bonus: a frameable art print by Catherine Schieve is included with each order.

Satires, writings and commentaries by Partch:
  • A Modern Parable 1 and 2
  • The Umbilical Cord Still Vibrates
  • On G-String Formality
  • KPFA lecture series
  • Manual on the Maintenance and Repair of - and the Musical and Attitudinal Techniques for - Some Putative Musical Instruments
  • Some Old and New Thoughts After and Before The Bewitched
  • Drawings from Bitter Music and End Littoral
  • Bach and Temperament
  • The Kithara
  • Barstow
  • Musicians as "Artists"
  • No Barriers
  • The Ancient Magic
  • A Somewhat Spoof
  • Toward a Ritual Music Consciousness
  • Verbal scenarios for: Cry From Another Darkness (Delusion of the Fury), The Dreamer That Remains, The Bewitched, other incomplete works
Correspondence with:
  • Otto Luening
  • W.B. Yeats
  • Edmund Dulac
  • Anais Nin
  • Martha Graham
  • Alwin Nikolais
  • Kenneth Anger
  • LaMonte Young
  • John Cage
  • Lou Harrison
  • Peter Yates
  • Peter Garland
  • Madeline Tourtelot
  • Betty Freeman
  • Danlee Mitchell
  • Jacques Barzun
  • Lauriston C. Marshall
  • Ben Johnston
  • Bob Kostka
Articles by:
  • Henry Cowell
  • Lou Harrison
  • R. Murray Schafer
  • Roger Ebert
  • Alfred Frankenstein
Other items:
  • Over 300 b&w photographs, by Partch and others
  • Newspaper clippings, concert programs, printed ephemera
  • Notes and introduction by Philip Blackburn
  • Two computer fonts based on Partch's handwriting and his typewriter
  • Original artist bookmark with IRIS color print

Enclosure Four

innova 404 (VHS video) $24.00 + S&H

  • VHS video of Madeline Tourtelot's film of Partch's Delusion of the Fury (1969-72), the work that established his reputation.
  • VHS video of a San Diego KPBS-TV program featuring Partch and a performance of his Daphne of the Dunes (1968)

Enclosure Five

innova 405 (3-CD set) $35.00 + S&H

  • Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World
    (1971 Orion LP, Jack Logan, trumpet)
  • Revelation in the Courthouse Park
    (1960, Gate 5 Records, Issue F)
  • Introduction to King Oedipus (KPFA-FM, 1954)
  • King Oedipus
    (1952, Mills College premiere with W.B. Yeats libretto)
  • Johann Krieger: Menuet (1950, Partch + Ben Johnston)
  • Come Away, Death (from December, 1942)
    (1997, Didier Aschour and Vincent Bouchot)
  • By the Rivers of Babylon (137th Psalm)
    (1961, Gate Five Records)
  • Introduction to The Bewitched (1959, WNYC)
  • The Bewitched (1980, WDR-Köln)

Also currently available through innova:

Harry Partch: The Early Vocal Works, 1930-33

innova 406 (study by Bob Gilmore, noted Partch scholar) $25.00 + S&H

Bob Gilmore's ground-breaking thesis on Partch's Speech-Music period, including in-depth discussion of his Li Po Settings and detailed biographical research. Essential study for the technically minded. Published by the British Harry Partch Society, 1996, 208 pp., softcover.