Ruth Crawford and the Apotheosis of Spiritual Dissonance

Carol J. Oja

in Making Music Modern

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195058499
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865031 | DOI:
Ruth Crawford and the Apotheosis of Spiritual Dissonance

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Alone among the ultra-moderns, Ruth Crawford (1901-1953) became a rapt disciple of Dane Rudhyar, whom she met in 1925. She soon fell under his spell, “worshipping” him “intellectually”and finding herself “dazzled by his erudition”. She revered him as an “idol”. Thus, one of America's most uncompromising modernists—a composer who within a few years was to be hailed for her proto-serial writing and heterophonic ideal—encountered spiritual theories during a formative period in her compositional development. Crawford was never promoted or explicated by Rudhyar, as was the case with Carl Ruggles and Henry Cowell. Crawford stood apart in actually applying Rudhyar's theories to her compositions and gaining little attention from him for the results. Rudhyar credited some of his own piano works with inspiring the “first really interesting music Crawford wrote”.

Keywords: Ruth Crawford; modernist music; Dane Rudhyar; composers; ultra-modernism; spirituality; tone; dissonance; new music; piano music

Chapter.  2501 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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