| Search | Login/Register
   Home » Musical Discussions » Playing American Music on July 4? (11 posts, 1 page)
  Print Thread | 1st Post |  
Page 1 of 1 (11 items) Select Pages: 
07-01-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 1
Post ID: 10957
Reply to: 10957
Playing American Music on July 4?
fiogf49gjkf0d
 Anything interesting?


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-02-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Lbjefferies7
Southern California
Posts 49
Joined on 01-11-2008

Post #: 2
Post ID: 10958
Reply to: 10957
Music of The States
fiogf49gjkf0d

My short list includes Copland's Appalachian Spring and Fanfare for the Common Man, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (intensly American and still brilliant), and, controversially, Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto.

I see Copland's works as being quite "American" while not resorting to any of the BS associated with today's Americans.  Rhapsody in Blue screams USA and portrays that special point-of-view of the '20's.  Dispite its structural issues, I see it as a very important part of American music.  It captures the idealized American collective conciousness of that particular time. 

Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto is not American but it has always made me think of Rachmaninov's tour of America.  This is one of the most stunning pieces of music to me as it captures how he was thinking in a very raw and absolutely creative way.  Being very American (my family immigrated in the 1750's...I'm 13th generation), of course I do not know the "land of opportunity" thing that drives so many people here and I don't have quite enough reason to want to get the hell out...yet...maybe a few more years.  The adventureous spirit and manifest-destiny-like boldness of the first movement countered with the homesickness of the second is implimented with Rachmaninov's genius.  I am in his head when I play this piece as with many other of his works.

Thats all I can think of now.

LBJ




I'm not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer. Leonard Bernstein
07-02-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 3
Post ID: 10959
Reply to: 10958
The American music in it’s best?
fiogf49gjkf0d

I have my issuers with American music of Copland/Gershwin level do not particularly like it. I do understand the concept of the “idealized American collective consciousness” but this American music too much reminds me the “harmonies” of Frank Zappa or the film ”Clockwork Orange” – both create always gagging reaction within me. Saying that I have to admit that I heard the Gershwin’s album by James Levine with Chicago and somehow Levine made his Gershwin to sound amazingly palatable. Probably I will listen it again over the weekend.

It always interests me how different personalities reflected in musicality and it would be interesting to see how the “Americanism” of performing would manifest itself. For this matter I ma planning to play some Leonard Bernstein over the 4th. I have high respect to Bernstein but I never felt soft about his interpretations. Probably I need give him more chance. I have some of his live Tanglewood recording – it might be fun.

Talking about the different personalities reflected in musicality… I will certainly play George Walker music on July 4.

George Walker is kind of enigmatic composer in my view. First of all he is black and unfortunately there are no a lot of black classical composers.  Second he is from the generation of the composers who practice all of it atonal, dissonance and contra-melodic musical cacophony. Still, George Walker’s music has absolutely not of end of the 20 century absurdly. It is very melodic, it is very rational and it is in many instances too beautiful. His Sonata for cello & piano probably is one of the greatest American compositions for cello & piano. I like his music even though it is not always well-performed and I frequently listening it imagine how different I would play it. Some of the Walker’s phases are very interesting where his “blackness” heritage very much shine under a new light. In some instances he uses a very “bad” violin, that more sound like home fiddle. If Walker was an Eastern Europeans Jew then it would turn into some kind klazmer tunes but in Walker’s hands it turns into something very interesting. It is more like a home-cooked blues (sorry for the racist stereotypes) but the blues conceived by a conservatory-trained person with Brahms-like sense of melody. In my view it is American music it it’s best, at least as it might be…

The caT


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-02-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
clarkjohnsen
Boston, MA, US
Posts 297
Joined on 06-02-2004

Post #: 4
Post ID: 10961
Reply to: 10959
Walker's great!
fiogf49gjkf0d
For decades I've declared him the Greatest Living American Composer.

I was privileged to know him and visit him back in the Eighties and early Nineties. A true gentleman. His two sons followed him in classical music, one as a violinist, the other as a pianist.

George was also an audiophile!

I call his Trombone Concerto the greatest American composition of the second half of the Twentieth Century.

Of his appearance at the Boston Symphony a decade or so ago, I have a funny story but I'll save it for now.

clark

PS It was also my privilege to be a close friend of the man I declared the Greatest Living American Painter -- Henry Schwartz. Oh what the hell -- the Greatyest Living Painter period. Alas, he passed this year. But his subject matter was mostly classical music, if you can believe it!
07-02-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 5
Post ID: 10963
Reply to: 10961
The Greatest Living American Composer?
fiogf49gjkf0d
I am surprised and pleased to learn that you know him. Usually people never heard about him and it is a shame…

I also visited him a few years back. I would not say that I found his audio view were overly progressive but  I did not detect that he had truly deep interest in audio, even though he had a quite good playback setup. The good part about Mr. Walker was that was not just a guy who composed and played music but who was very conscious about what he does and why he does what he does. I like it. Thanks for letting me know about his sons, it might be interesting….

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-03-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Lbjefferies7
Southern California
Posts 49
Joined on 01-11-2008

Post #: 6
Post ID: 10967
Reply to: 10959
George Walker
fiogf49gjkf0d

Interesting, I did not recall his name but I have heard some of George Walker's work.  Very, VERY respectable.  I'll be getting his work...I am quite unfamiliar with him.

Bernstein, yes, certainly one of our finest conductors and he certainly had a brilliant understanding of music.  I have recently detected some Glenn Gould influences in some of Bernstein's concerts.  I realized this, actually, in a dream I had of Gould playing the third movement (Menuetto: Allegreto, Trio) of Mozart's 40th Symphony on an organ.  It was brilliantly transcribed, if I do say so myself.  Damn, I wish I could have recorded it!  I played Bernstein and the Wiener Philharmoniker 1985 performance shortly afterward and first noticed the Gouldian influences throughout all but the first movement (where Gould may have played with the apostrophes that he did with Mozart's #11 Sonata in A Minor...only to a lesser extent).  That was quite an experience.

Frank Zappa...I have never heard his "stuff" except for a couple of seconds just now on Amazon's music sampler.  To preserve my love of Gershwin's Rhapsody, I will stay away from that crap.  I would choose rap over that if I were forced to choose.

Thanks to you and Clark for awakening me to Walker.
LBJ




I'm not interested in having an orchestra sound like itself. I want it to sound like the composer. Leonard Bernstein
07-03-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
tuga


Posts 174
Joined on 12-26-2007

Post #: 7
Post ID: 10969
Reply to: 10957
Celebrating the United States of America
fiogf49gjkf0d
Curiously I first heard about George Walker and his music very recently, when by joining in on the celebration of Obama's election, the Portuguese National Broadcasting's Classical Channel dedicated a few days to American music, from Aaron Copland to John Philip Sousa to this interesting composer I didn't know existed.
Cheers, Ric


"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira Pascoaes
07-03-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 8
Post ID: 10976
Reply to: 10957
The patriotic Americana…
fiogf49gjkf0d

Do you think only Russian composed stupid music to celebrate own leaders? (BTW, not all that music was stupid) Well, in US we do it as well.  David Diamond (a prolific American composer and the author of  11 symphonies, dozen quarters and so on) composed in  60s his oratorio “This Sacred Ground” where he orchestrated the… Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Well, I do like the Diamond’s musk at the Sacred Ground, the Gettysburg Address is a magnificent example of powerful oratory but together it sound even more horrible than John Adams' opera "Dr. Atomic". It just does not work!!!

Saying that I have to admit that a few weeks back I heard Garrison Keillor with his crew singing (!!!) the classifieds from newspaper … and it was superb!

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-03-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,148
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 9
Post ID: 10984
Reply to: 10976
A Nation Celebrates Itself
fiogf49gjkf0d

No 4th of July would be complete without some martial music, including the oft-adopted-by-the-military JP Sousa.

I actually like band music, and I have some very interesting old dubs of JP Sousa's music conducted during Souza's lifetime by Edwin Clarke, Herbert Clarke, Arthur Pryor, Walter Rogers and others, since Sousa himself would infamously have nothing to do with recordings!

There is also Ferde Grofe', whose Grand Canyon Suite is iconic Americana (and Gershwin tapped Grofe' for his own orchestral scores).  Leading into the next paragraph, I have one decent GCS performance conducted by L. Bernstein.

I love Bernstein's Westside Story.  Nice versions conducted by the composer, himself, and surprisingly good version patiently "conducted" by Johnny Green, via Columbia, for the movie score, too; not to pan the vocalists, either.

Does Dvorak's "New World Symphony" count?  Although it "should", based on D's address and "commission" at the time, I have always thought of this wonderful symphony as a sort of homesick reverie rather than the grateful visitor's portrait of America that many/most Americans have apparently taken it for.   I'd be happy to claim it, of course!

Get ready,
Paul S

07-04-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,540
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 10
Post ID: 10986
Reply to: 10957
American music: a view from year 2500.
fiogf49gjkf0d

I wonder what would symbolize American music of 20th century in 500 years; of course I am talking about classical music. Sure people will remember John Williams, William Bolcom, George Walker, Elliott Carter, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Coolidge Adams, Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Alan Hovhaness and many others. Still, none of them in my view will be recognized as somebody who was responsible for distinctly American Sound of 20th century as they did not do anything deterrent then anybody else did in 20th century. With one exception….

Gershwin and Copland in 20s played with idea of mixing jazz with classical music and they come up with a number of semi-ridicules in my view compositions. Still, those compositions I feel might be something that would symbolize American music of 20th century in 500 years.

I was looking today to play something like this and pulled out Copland’s Concerto for piano and orchestra. It is not a tremendously popular work but if to accept the premise of the idea then it is truly wonderful work… if properly performed.  To celebrating the 4th I was listening it today and I end up listening it… 3 times. What would be more American then Leonard Bernstein conducting New York Philharmonic and Aaron Copland himself leading his own piano orchestra? Alternatively what might be more American then the true authentic American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and true authentic American pianist Garrick Ohlsson play the Copland’s Concerto with San Francisco Symphony?

I have to admit that it might be fun music…

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
07-04-2009 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,148
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 11
Post ID: 10987
Reply to: 10986
The Voice of It's Own Time
fiogf49gjkf0d

This is a great question, Romy!  Who knows, really, since music has gone more and more "pop" for the last 50 years and the "average American" is probably stuck with the notion that this stuff is the music of the 20th century.  Well, never mind that; but what do we have in the way of music from 490 years ago?  Not much, really.

But I have been thinking about a similar question for many years now, namely, what/who is the most important Art/Artist of the 20th century, using the today's "informed" standards and "projecting them into the future"?  I don't know about 490 years into the future, but maybe in 100 years or so...

At this point in my life, I would have to say that Marcel Duchamp was the 20th C visual (conceptual) artist, Joyce was probably the writer, and American Jazz (broadly speaking) has been the music to "define" the 20th Century.  If held down and forced to choose, I would choose Miles Davis as the musical artist of the 20th C;  not Schoenberg, Philip Glass or John Cage, but Miles Dewey Davis.  And so I suppose it's tres droll that I think that Sketches of Spain is probably Miles' greatest work.

It is very interesting how time works to "temper" our views.  Who can listen to Mozart without hearing Handel, and so on, ad infinitum.  All artists have their predecessors; it's just a matter of knowing whom and how.

True, I do not rate "Sketches of Spain" as highly as Brahms' 4th (or Beethoven's 9th...), etc; but Art is always the Voice of its own time; and ultimately I think it will be so appraised.


Best regards,
Paul S

Page 1 of 1 (11 items) Select Pages: 
Home Page  |  Last 24Hours  | Search  |  SiteMap  | Questions or Problems | Copyright Note
The content of all messages within the Forums Copyright © by authors of the posts