Two years ago I interviewed conductor Jeannine Wager and subsequently wrote on this site what seems to still be the only complete account of the last years of composer Eleanor Hovda (1940-2009). During our conversation Wager, her companion of 20 years, was forthcoming but obviously still grieving.
She told me that she would soon be leaving their Arkansas home and was planning to begin archiving Hovda’s studio in New York City and that a series of CD releases was planned.
Having spent several years calling on and attempting to assist the heirs of composers who died of AIDS, I knew that Wager’s intentions were good, but the task ahead of her was enormous. The emotional burden of losing a loved one prematurely can make the work of addressing their artistic legacy feel insurmountable. My more recent career direction as a real estate agent also continues to regularly bring me face to face with how difficult it can be to deal with years and years of belongings, whether your own or someone else’s. We all have so much stuff!
Well, cheers to Wager and Philip Blackburn of Innova Recordings who have produced a definitive and seemingly complete tribute to Hovda and her music. “The Eleanor Hovda Collection” is an elegant four-CD set that brings together:
The collection seems like a definite summation of Hovda’s career, but in her biographical essay Wager says that Hovda was very prolific and that the CDs represent only a fraction of her compositions. Nevertheless, there’s more than enough here to savor and assure that Hovda’s legacy endures.
Previously on My Big Gay Ears: