Composer Howard Hanson of Wahoo, Nebraska: Local boy makes good

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1min 41sec
Photo: Wahoo, Nebraska sign
Howard Hanson and four other "famous men" are mentioned on a welcome sign in Wahoo, Neb.

"Wahoo, Nebraska, birthplace of five famous men: C.W. ANDERSON, GEORGE BEADLE, SAM CRAWFORD, DARRYL ZANUCK and HOWARD HANSON.''

Anderson was an author and illustrator of children's books. Beadle was a scientist in the field of genetics. Crawford played first base for the Detroit Tigers during the Ty Cobb era. Zanuck achieved renown as a Hollywood producer.

And Hanson, for 40 years the Director of the Eastman School of Music, tirelessly promoted the cause of American music.

Composed for the 50th anniversary season of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Hanson's Second Symphony was introduced by that orchestra, under Serge Koussevitzky's direction, on Nov. 28, 1930, in Boston.

In a program note for the première, Hanson explained the symphony's subtitle, "Romantic":

"It represents for me a definite and acknowledged embracing of the Romantic phase. I recognize, of course, that Romanticism is, at the present time, the poor stepchild, without the social standing of her elder sister, Neoclassicism. Nevertheless, I embrace her all the more fervently, believing, as I do, that Romanticism will find in this country rich soil for a new, young, and vigorous growth. My aim, in this symphony, has been to create a work young in spirit, Romantic in temperament, and simple and direct in expression."

For more on Hanson and his symphony, click the audio link above. We'll hear the Boulder Philharmonic play Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 (“Romantic”) with conductor Michael Butterman at 7 p.m. Thursday on Colorado Spotlight.

Charley Samson shares his insights on classical music in segments airing in the 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. hours weekdays on CPR Classical. He hosts Colorado Spotlight at 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday.