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Bowles, Paul (Frederic)

north publ africa music

Bowles, Paul (Frederic) , American man of letters and composer; b. N.Y., Dec. 30, 1910; d. Tangier, Nov. 18, 1999. He became fascinated with pictorial arts, belles lettres, and the vocal projection of poetry as a child, and when he was 8 he also began to study music. At 17, he had his first poem publ. in the literary review transition . In 1929 he made his way to Paris, where he was dazzled by its intellectual resplendence and the insouciant millieu of the Left Bank. Returning to N.Y., his hypnopomping musical talent manifested itself and in 1930 he became a student of Copland. In 1931 he returned to Paris, where he continued his studies with Copland and had a few lessons with Boulanger. He became a habitué of the circle surrounding Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, but his wanderlust led him to visit Berlin and North Africa. The latter sojourn proved the turning point in his artistic career, both as a composer and as a man of letters. After composing several orch., chamber, and vocal scores, Bowles attracted attention with his ballet Yankee Clipper (1936). During the following 2 decades, he proved adept at composing film scores and incidental music for plays. In 1941 he received a Guggenheim fellowship, which resulted in his opera The Wind Remains (19417–43), after Garcia Lorca. His psychological attraction to exotic lands prompted him to return to North Africa in 1947, which remained the center of his activities for the rest of his life with occasional sojourns to various lands abroad. Among his later compositions was the opera Yerma (1948–55), also after Garcia Lorca. As a composer, he found his métier in works reflecting American, Mexican, and North African elements. Bowles soon became best known, however, as a writer, when in 1949 he publ. the first of his many bone-chilling novels, The Sheltering Sky . He also wrote short stories and made trs. of native works about North Africa. His autobiography was publ, as Without Stopping (1972). The vol. Paul Bowles: Music (1995) is a collection of essays, interviews, and reviews. Bowles was married to the novelist and playwright Jane Auer, who died in 1973.

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