LOUIS HORST by Janet Mansfield Soares


Musician in a Dancer's World
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 Louis Horst was a musician, conductor, and composer who, through his work with Martha Graham and other pioneers, profoundly affected the development of American modern dance. Here, Soares (Dance/Barnard College), formerly Horst's assistant, offers a carefully chronicled, well-documented account of his life and work. Born in 1884 of German immigrants, Horst was strongly encouraged by his father, himself a musician, to pursue a career in music. Self-supporting as a musician from his teens on, Horst began playing for the Denishawn dancers in 1915--a job that set his life's direction. It was here that he met Graham, and here that he began to consider the relationship between music and dance. By 1925, when Horst left Denishawn to study composition in Vienna, he had a basic philosophy: When dance and music are wed, ``both arts must sacrifice too much at times.'' How the two arts might better serve each other was Horst's concern when, after a year in Europe, he reunited with Graham (their relationship was emotional and physical as well as collegial). Together, they began to alter the world of dance, music, and the relationship between the two. It is no overstatement to say that Graham's work was born of this collaboration. Soares recounts in detail the ensuing, fruitful years, during which Horst accompanied Graham and her cohorts in choreography, teaching, and performing--and at an astounding pace. Graham's marriage to Erick Hawkins eventually brought a sharp rift between the dancer and the musician, but Horst continued to work at a breakneck pace with other choreographers. He died in 1964. Working with full access to Horst's diaries and other sources, Soares does scholarly justice to her material. Readers may miss some of the passion that was a hallmark of this era and of Graham's life and associations (conveyed so well by Agnes de Mille in Martha, 1991), but, still, this is a worthwhile account of an important figure. (Thirty-two b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-8223-1226-3
Page count: 251pp
Publisher: Duke Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992