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A Musical Feast celebrates Charles Burchfield’s love of music

Charles E. Burchfield loved to listen to the radio and play his recordings of Sibelius, Beethoven, Bach and many other composers before, during, and after painting.

“A Musical Feast” celebrates his love of classical music October 4th at 8pm at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium. Burchfield Scholar Nancy Weekley has often said that “he was more inspired by music than other artists, and this attempt to get movement and sound in his work is shown through his vibrant and seasonal colors, linear patterns, and creation of symbols for sounds I call audio-cryptograms that animate his fantastic visions. They are evidence of his synesthesia.”

How wonderful that we have a Bach expert, pianist Father Sean Duggan, a Jesuit priest, to pay homage to Burchfield by presenting two works, Partita No. 5 in G major and Sonata No. 3 in g minor by J.S.Bach. Father Duggan will be joined by Diane Hunger on saxophone; both have just returned from a music festival in Dresden, Germany.

Artist Edward Hopper said of his friend, “The work of Charles Burchfield is most decidedly founded, not on art, but on life, and the life that he knows and loves best.”

In 2005, Jerry Salz described Burchfield as “the mystic, cryptic painter of transcendental landscapes, trees with telekinetic halos, and haunted houses emanating ectoplasmic auras Burchfield was born in 1893 and raised in Ohio, so many of his early works and journal entries depict that area.

His works are often divided into three periods. The first period reflects his early landscapes from 1915, graduation from the Cleveland School of Art in 1916, and great experimentation in 1917, until after his service in the U.S. Army in 1919, returning home to Ohio. His middle period began in 1921, when he moved to Buffalo to design wallpapers for the M. H. Birge & Sons Company and depicted towns, countryside and industrial scenes with greater realism. He resigned from Birge in 1929 to devote his career to his art. His third period, from 1943 until his death in January 1967, he created his most complex and inventive landscapes inspired by his youth and the drive to create unique paintings to represent the vibrancy of nature. The artist cut the ribbon opening the Charles Burchfield Center at Buffalo State College when it was dedicated in his honor on December 9, 1966.

The Burchfield Penney Art Center has become the museum and national study center dedicated to Charles E. Burchfield, with the world’s largest collection of his art, as well as the most comprehensive archival collection relating to his career. The multi-arts center expanded its mission to support distinguished artists of Buffalo-Niagara and Western New York State.

Feng Hew, Associate Principal Cellist of the Buffalo Philharmonic will play Caspar Cassado’s Suite for Solo Cello, and soprano Tiffany DuMouchelle, with Wildy Zumwalt on saxophone, will interpret composer Lori Laitman’s I Never Saw Another Butterfly. Laitman has composed multiple operas and choral works, and over 250 songs, setting texts by classical and contemporary poets, including those who perished in the Holocaust. She used this astonishing collection of poems written by children from the Terezin Concentration Camp. One cannot help but be touched by the hope, innocence and truth of the poems. She chose 6 poems, setting them with the soulful, haunting sound of the saxophone, reminiscent of Klezmer music.

It’s an evening Charles Burchfield would certainly have loved.

Tickets: $20; Burchfield Penny members/students: $10. Phone: 878-6011. Information:, or:

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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