Guitarist Bradley Colten has just completed his years-long research into the guitar works of American composer Ernst Bacon. The project, and Bradley’s research, has unearthed a ‘treasure trove’ of repertoire for the instrument. Bradley’s attention has netted a critical edition of the Bacon scores (Les Productions d’Oz), the premiere recording of the guitar works (Azica, Amazon and iTunes), as well as numerous articles. Taken as a whole, these results present the newly unearthed, complete works for guitar solo by Ernst Bacon and establish Bacon as a major voice for the instrument in the 20th century.
Ernst Bacon may be considered a Twentieth Century Renaissance man. In addition to composing, Bacon concertized as a pianist, conducted, painted and wrote both poetry and prose.
Bacon’s music – like Aaron Copland’s – identified an American sound that captured “the poetry, folk songs, jazz rhythms and geography of America” in the first half of the twentieth century (Ernst Bacon Society website). His considerable output includes works for piano, chamber music, orchestra and the stage.
As a guitar composer, Ernst Bacon is simply unknown, aside from his single published guitar piece, Parting (1968), which is now out of print. However, unbeknownst to almost everyone, Bacon was quietly composing guitar music for three decades. From the 1960s through the 1980s, Bacon wrote nineteen solo guitar works that range in character and style, yet maintain a clearly defined voice. The works offer a variety of forms: from an eighteen-minute set of Americana, folk-inspired works (Four Pieces for Guitar), to compact character pieces (Just Wondering, A Walk in the Hills and Anything), to miniature canons (A Christmas Canon and Anniversary Canon.)
Bradley is responsible for the recent unearthing of this repertoire and has the full and exclusive backing of the Bacon family for this and other Ernst Bacon related projects. Bradley, along with Azica Records, is very excited about making this contribution to the larger music community.