Has anyone heard of a composer by the name of Rowan Taylor?

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davidb
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Has anyone heard of a composer by the name of Rowan Taylor?

Post by davidb » Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:26 am

I am one of the web editors for Musicweb International, and as some of you might know, we have been running a Christmas competition seeking an answer to "who is the most prolific composer of all time?"

Of course, it is an unanswerable question, because of the various criteria that can be used, but it is all in fun, and originality of the answer was part of the judging.

Anyway, one of our respondents suggested Rowan Taylor - a 20th century American composer with a vast array of all types of works. It's just that none of us at MW had ever heard of him.

The correspondent cited Wikipedia as his source, and a Google search found multiple references to Taylor, all using the same or similar text as in the Wiki entry.

Given the open source nature of Wikipedia and some of the other references, we felt we needed some independent conformation, but very little information beyond this is available.

Does anyone on this forum know anything of him to help us determine whether his inclusion in the competition is valid?

Many thanks
(this is my first post to the Forum, but not my last)
David Barker

Corlyss_D
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:41 am

I believe the Who's Who entries are based on submissions by the individual and doesn't constitute an independent acknowledgement of the accomplishments of the entrant. I wouldn't accept what's written there without verification from another source. Perhaps Taylor was affiliated with an institution like a college that you could write to.
Corlyss
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davidb
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Thanks Corlyss

Post by davidb » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:21 am

Many thanks for your thought, but I'm ahead of you - I have emailed the Professor of Music at Pierce College, California, where Taylor was supposed to have worked for many years. No reply as yet.

What is very interesting that your profile lists Utah as your location. What I have found regarding Taylor is a series of Mormon connections - the fact that you live where you do and clearly have never heard of him is perhaps significant.
David Barker

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Re: Thanks Corlyss

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:37 am

davidb wrote:Many thanks for your thought, but I'm ahead of you - I have emailed the Professor of Music at Pierce College, California, where Taylor was supposed to have worked for many years. No reply as yet.

What is very interesting that your profile lists Utah as your location. What I have found regarding Taylor is a series of Mormon connections - the fact that you live where you do and clearly have never heard of him is perhaps significant.
I've only been here for 3 years - ask me about Washington DC, where I lived for 48 years. However, I will ask my buddy in Bountiful, a native who is very active in musical circles and is friends with several members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, if he ever heard of the guy. Stand by . . .
Corlyss
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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:17 pm

David - My friend never heard of Taylor either. I'd like to know what your research yields.
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piston
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Post by piston » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:49 pm

Possibly because he was not known in Utah, Corlyss. From what I have gleaned on the internet, Rowan Taylor was a professor of composition at Pierce College, in L.A. His reputation as the most prolific composer of all time was claimed in his obituary, in a Mormon newsletter. You can find it at http://www.motleyvision.org/?p=135
Curiously, though, I was unable to find any Rowan Taylor work or papers in the Pierce College library.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Post by PJME » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:20 pm

I don't know, but does this guy add to the mystery? Wikipedia :

Edward Manukyan (Armenian: Էդվարդ Մանուկյան, Russian: Эдвард Манукян) - (b. July 27, 1981) is an Armenian-born composer residing in Southern California. One of the last students to have studied composition under Rowan Taylor, Manukyan made significant progress, despite his scant formal training in music, and he was accepted into the Master's program at the California State University in Los Angeles. A prolific composer of orchestral works, Manukyan devoted himself to composing contemporary music, leaning heavily upon Armenian national folklore. He created over a dozen large-scale compositions, including a Concerto-Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra, Symphonic Fantasy for Wind Orchestra and Armenian Suite. Most of Manukyan’s works bespeak about inspirations of Armenian patriotic themes with titles such as Heroic Song About Homeland, Dawn In Ararat Valley, Lament For Homeland etc.
Upon moving to the United States in 2002, Manukyan shifted his interests towards classical music after studying the works of his compatriot Aram Khachaturian. He took composition classes from acclaimed American composer Rowan Taylor and went on to further study with composers John Kennedy, James Newton and pursued his Master's Degree from the California State University, Los Angeles (2005-2007). He also studied instrumental and choral conducting with Stephen Piazza and David Buck. Manukyan's music was performed by the Los Angeles Symphonic Winds, the Valley Brass Ensemble and solo artists such as mezzo-sopranos Erica Maresh, Melissa James and Anna Beth.


Peter

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:25 pm

piston wrote:Possibly because he was not known in Utah, Corlyss. From what I have gleaned on the internet, Rowan Taylor was a professor of composition at Pierce College, in L.A. His reputation as the most prolific composer of all time was claimed in his obituary, in a Mormon newsletter. You can find it at http://www.motleyvision.org/?p=135
Curiously, though, I was unable to find any Rowan Taylor work or papers in the Pierce College library.
Thanks. I've forwarded this to my friend in Bountiful.
Corlyss
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davidb
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Post by davidb » Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:58 pm

Thanks to Corlyss, piston & PJME for your help.

The mystery still remains - I have emailed the library at Pierce, hoping they might be able to reply more quickly than the Professor of Music.

The obituary from motleyvision is encouraging, though again the text is the same as in Wikipedia (and every other reference to Taylor on the net). The posted replies are interesting with the personal connections.

This could still be just some elaborate hoax for someone's amusement. The entry in classical-composers.org adds a listing of honours from the so-called American Biographical Institute and International Biographical Centre, each of which appears to be a scam.

I'm coming to the conclusion that Rowan Taylor existed and was a composer, but I'm having serious doubts about the prolific claims ... but I could be wrong.

Hopefully, the Pierce College library might be able to settle it.
David Barker

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Post by piston » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:06 pm

Other than biographies, is there such a thing as an annual compilation of all the classical music published in the United States (author, work title, etc.)? It seems to me that any competition of this nature should be based on some basic standards such as distinguishing a manuscript from a published work.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:49 pm

piston wrote:"I'll try not to color or falsify anything." (Shostakovich)
That puts me in mind of my favorite author's introduction to his most famous book:

The chief beauty of this book lies not so much in its literary style, or in the extent and usefulness of the information it conveys, as in its simple truthfulness. It's pages for m the record of events that really happened. All that has been done is to colour them; and, for this, no extra charge has been made. * * * Other works may excel this in depth of thought and knowledge of human nature; other books may rival it in originality and size; but, for hopeless and incurable veracity, nothing yet discovered can surpass it. - J.K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat to Say Nothing of the Dog (1889).
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piston
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Post by piston » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:04 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
piston wrote:"I'll try not to color or falsify anything." (Shostakovich)
That puts me in mind of my favorite author's introduction to his most famous book:

The chief beauty of this book lies not so much in its literary style, or in the extent and usefulness of the information it conveys, as in its simple truthfulness. It's pages form the record of events that really happened. All that has been done is to colour them; and, for this, no extra charge has been made. * * * Other works may excel this in depth of thought and knowledge of human nature; other books may rival it in originality and size; but, for hopeless and incurable veracity, nothing yet discovered can surpass it. - J.K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat to Say Nothing of the Dog (1889).
A signature I did not choose to suggest that Volkov's book is "...the truth and nothing but the truth." As the author of Testimony, he constantly intrudes and, by sheer emphasis, probably distorts quite a bit too. But if he quoted Shostakovich accurately, I was impressed by the composer's simple but meaningful wisdom. Being from modest origins (my grandfather was illiterate; my father only completed his seventh grade), I have found that common sense often makes a lot of sense. :D
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

davidb
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Post by davidb » Sun Jan 28, 2007 5:39 am

Just to round this topic off, I thought I should let those of you who have read and contributed to the discussion what other information (such as it is) I have found, and the conclusions we at Musicweb have come to, regarding the competition entry.

I did get confirmation from Pierce College Library that Rowan Taylor did teach music there for 40 years, but they could not say anything about the number of his compositions. I have heard nothing from the Professor of Music there.

There is no mention of Taylor in Grove (online).

We have come to the conclusion that clearly Taylor was a real person, but that there is no independent evidence to support the "most prolific composer" claim.

Thanks for everyone's help.
David Barker

suedama

Rowan Taylor

Post by suedama » Sun Feb 11, 2007 1:00 am

I studied under Rowan Taylor at Pierce College back in 1974 and despite the skepticism regarding his prolificity, having known him, seen and heard a number of his works (mostly unpublished), I can believe he was quite prolific.
What is written about him in Wikipedia and in the Mormon websites I don't question.
His works (those that I've heard) seem to be in a sort of liberal Neo Classical genre.
He was a very kind man.
His criticisms were always constructive and uplifting.
It was an honor and a pleasure to have known him.

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