Composer Carl Ruggles was 90 years old – and his music all but forgotten – in 1966, when the College gave him an honorary degree and put on a weekend festival devoted to his music. “It was one of the very last Bowdoin Biennial Institutes,” recalls Elliott Schwartz, Bowdoin’s Robert K. Beckwith Professor of Music Emeritus, who calls Ruggles one of the great figures of the early 20th century.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra was hired by Bowdoin to perform a concert that would include the U.S. premiere of Ruggles’ 1931 masterpiece “Sun-Treader,” says Schwartz who adds that the concert took place in Portland and also comprised music by Richard Strauss and Felix Mendelssohn.
Now, all these years later, new life has been breathed into Ruggles’ music. The Complete Music of Carl Ruggles, originally released in 1980 (nine years after his death), has for the first time been reissued on CD, heralded by a glowing review in The New York Times, and Elliott Schwarz couldn’t be prouder. “As someone who was directly involved in the 1966 Ruggles Institute, I want to make sure future scholars and historians recognize Bowdoin’s role in the revival of this wonderful music – and it really is very special.”