"Morton Gould/American Salute," by Peter W. Goodman, should appeal to anybody with even a passing interest in modern American music. Goodman, who had extensive access not only to the subject himself, but to the efforts of previous, would-be biographers, breezily moves the story of Gould's life along. The central theme of the book is the composer's unfulfilled, life-long yearning for acceptance in his field. At every turn, Goodman explains, from his early success in radio, to his widespread play by "secondary" orchestras, Gould snatched despair from the jaws of professional satisfaction. Gould's continuous battle with depression weaves through the narrative.
The author goes to great lenghts to vividly protray on the written page what, one imagines, really must be heard to be fully appreciated in Gould's work:
"'Dance Variations' is in four movements, most of which fly by at breakneck speed. Gould's harmonic language and organization are tonal and conventional, yet the music is passionate and unsettling. . . . [I]ts 'Can-Can' is pounding and raucous. And the concluding 'Tarantalla' is frighteningly angry. Far from being a simple-minded crowd-pleaser, 'Dance Variations' is a score of depth and complexity, the work of a mind that is hiding in plain sight." (P. 211.)
Goodman also delves into Gould's many and varied sexual conquests. Unlike many of his peers (Copland and Bernstein, among others), Gould was, most decidedly, heterosexual. The detailed dissection of his two marriages (curiously, to two women with the same name (Shirley)), is a vital part of Gould's life story.
Perhaps the best compliment for this book is that the reader is left with the strong urge to round out his or her personal musical collection with anything Gould! It is highly recommended.