Once there McPhee became so interested in the music that he studied, built, and wrote extensively about the gamelans. McPhee, who was gay, divorced Belo in 1939. In the early 1940s he lived in a large brownstone in Brooklyn, which he shared with Leonard Bernstein and Benjamin Britten, among others. McPhee was responsible for introducing Britten to the Balinese music that influenced such works by the British composer as The Prince of the Pagodas, Curlew River, and Death in Venice. Later in the decade, McPhee fell into an alcohol-fueled depression, but began to write music again during the 1950s.
He became professor of ethnomusicology at UCLA in 1958 and was also a respected jazz critic. On June 26 and 27, 2009, an opera about McPhee's life by the American composer Evan Ziporyn, entitled A House in Bali, premiered at Puri Saraswati in Ubud, Bali. It received further performances at UC Berkeley on September 26 and 27, 2009. Published works McPhee's A House in Bali, the chronicle of his life there, is still considered a valuable introduction to Balinese culture. His posthumously published Music in Bali was the first comprehensive analysis of Balinese music published in English. His best-known musical work is Tabuh-Tabuhan: Toccata for Orchestra, composed and premiered in Mexico in 1936. Its title translates as "collection of percussion instruments," and it combines Balinese and traditional Western musical elements. It is scored for Western orchestra, but, in McPhee's description, the core of the ensemble is a "'nuclear gamelan' composed of two pianos, celesta, xylophone, marimba, and glockenspiel," giving it a highly percussive balance of sound.
The orchestra is augmented by two Balinese gongs and cymbals. The work is in three movements: "Ostinatos," a flute-inspired "Nocturne," and a syncopated "Finale." Some of the themes in it derive from Balinese folk sources. Angkloeng gamelans in Bali. (1937?) Balinese wajang koelit and its music. (1936?, 1981) ISBN 0404167659 Children and music in Bali.
(1938?) Club of small men : a children’s tale from Bali. (2002) ISBN 0794600743 House in Bali. (1980) ISBN 0404167667 Music in Bali: a study in form and instrumental organization in Balinese orchestral music. (1966, 1976) ISBN 0306707780 Transitions for orchestra.
(1954) Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more