“Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings”: Howard Hanson’s Musical Marriage Proposal

“To Peggy.” This is the simple inscription which appears on the title page of Howard Hanson’s Serenade for Flute, Harp, and Strings, Op. 35. In the summer of 1945, the 50-year-old Hanson (who had been a lifelong bachelor) met Margaret Elizabeth Nelson while attending the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York. The Serenade was written as a kind of musical marriage proposal. The couple was married a year later on July, 24. Hanson’s Serenade floats into a colorful, …

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