Paul Bowles

Paul Bowles was an American expatriate composer, author, and translator. He became associated with Tangier, Morocco, where he settled in 1947 and lived for 52 years to the end of his life.

Critics have described the music of Paul Bowles "as full of light as his fiction [is] of dark...almost as if the composer were a totally different person from the writer." During the early 1930s, Bowles studied composition (intermittently) with Aaron Copland; his music from this period is reminiscent of Satie and Poulenc. Returning to New York in the mid-30s, Bowles became one of the preeminent composers of American theater music, producing works for William Saroyan, Tennessee Williams, and others. Bowles said that such incidental music allowed him to present "climaxless music, hypnotic music in one of the exact senses of the word, in that it makes its effect without the spectator being made aware of it." At the same time he continued to write concert music, assimilating some of the melodic, rhythmic, and other stylistic elements of African, Mexican, and Central American music.

Bowles' reputation as a composer was ultimately overshadowed by his writing. He studied with Aaron Copland. He wrote chamber music and incidental music for the stage. The score of his 1955 opera Yerma is especially memorable and gets much radio-play. He collected Moroccan folk music.