Composer Nathan Hall is fascinated with the works of abstract painter Clyfford Still. He’s visited the artist’s work at the Clyfford Still Museum in downtown Denver. Still's large, vibrant paintings fill the galleries there. The museum also owns hundreds of letters and journal entries that give a glimpse of Still’s artistic vision -- and often difficult personality.

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Nathan recently set out to compose music about Still. He combed through the artist's writings in the museum archive and set some of the colorful passages to music. The finished piece is the sound of a brash young artist who grew into an influential painter at peace with his place in the art world.

Hear "Notes From Clyfford Still" performed by the Playground Ensemble in the CPR Performance Studio -- and hear how Nathan built the piece from what he found in the Clyfford Still Museum's archives -- in this episode of Centennial Sounds from CPR Classical and Colorado Public Radio. 

More from Nathan Hall, Playground Ensemble and Clyfford Still:

  • Hear the story of Nathan Hall's "Ghost Light" installation inside Boettcher Concert Hall and his choral piece based on a "Fresh Air" interview with children's author Maurice Sendak
  • Explore the Clyfford Still Museum's paintings through its expansive new online art collection and dig deeper into the museum's digital archives
  • Hear Playground Ensemble's collaboration with composer Caroline Shaw and Grammy-winning vocal group Roomful of Teeth
  • Browse the album covers from Clyfford Still's record collection. Listen to CPR Classical through the end of October to hear some of Clyfford Still's favorite classical pieces. 

Throughout the year, Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Public Television (CPT 12) and Rocky Mountain PBS are teaming up to explore the arts through a variety of lenses. The project extends a shared commitment by each organization to enrich the Colorado community with programming that’s locally focused around arts and culture.