The Banshee and the Tiger

In The Banshee and The Tiger American pianist Guy Livingston explores the influence of Ireland and Irish music on the work of American composer Henry Cowell. Broadcast on Sunday 21st January 2018 on RTÉ lyric fm. This programme won BRONZE at the 2018 New York Festivals Radio Awards in the Music category.

Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was a radical American composer whose inventive techniques changed American music and influenced the generation of composers who followed, including his former student John Cage. His extrovert playing, which involved bashing clusters of notes with his fists and arms, or plucking the piano strings, enthralled audiences and appalled many critics.

He also had a life-long interest in world music which began in his childhood and continued later in life when he and his wife, ethnomusicologist Sidney Robertson Cowell, travelled extensively. Sidney also played a key role in getting him released from prison following a scandal.

In The Banshee and the Tiger presenter and pianist Guy Livingston explores the influence of Ireland and Irish music on the work of Henry Cowell, with contributions from biographer Joel Sachs, American pianist Sarah Cahill, Irish traditional music researcher Deirdre Ní Conghaile, and American mezzo soprano Aylish Kerrigan.

The programme contains archive recordings of Cowell talking about his music and approach to composition. We also hear some of the rare recordings which Sidney made in the Aran Islands in the 1950s, and even rarer recordings made by Henry Cowell in 1934, including what is believed to be the earliest recording ever made of keening.

Archive is courtesy of the Henry Cowell Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the New York Public Library.

Presenter: Guy Livingston

Producers: Claire Cunningham and Guy Livingston

Sound supervision: Tinpot Productions

The Banshee and the Tiger is a Rockfinch production for RTÉ lyric fm funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.

First broadcast on RTÉ lyric fm on Sunday 21 January 2018 at 18:00.

Find out more about the music in the programme at: