Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New Music for the Fourth

I'll be on WTJU-FM this coming Friday morning, the Fourth of July, from 6:00-9:00 am. If you tune into 91.1 fm (either by radio or online), you probably won't be hearing the "Stars and Stripes Forever." And you sure as heck won't be hearing the "1812 Overture! I've discussed why that's not appropriate for the Fourth before on this blog.

So what will I be playing?

Lots. There are almost 200 years of American classical music written by Americans for Americans that just doesn't get heard very often on most radio stations (that play classical, that is).

Why not? I'm not sure. It's not the quality of music -- some of it's on par with what was going on in Europe at the time. It's not the status of the composers -- many of them are safely dead and buried, just like Bach, Brahms, and Beethoven. I just think it's difficult for stations -- and listeners -- to stray far from the classical top 40.

Sure, Samuel Barber's "Adagio" gets played regularly, as does some of Aaron Copland's ballet scores and of course George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." But that's only a tiny part of the creative legacy our forefathers (and contemporaries) have left us.

I'll be playing some songs from the American Revolution, as well as some music from 19th and 20th Century composers. Perhaps Howard Hanson's "Merry Mount" suite, from his opera of colonial Maryland. Count on some Charles Ives as well.

But what else?

I have some ideas, but I'll entertain motions from the floor. If you have a favorite American classical composition you think I should play, leave a comment.

There're just a few guidelines.

First, it has to be classical in genre. No crossover stuff, such as an orchestral version of Lee Greenwood, or Mitch Miller singing patriotic songs!

Secondly, it has to be composed by an American.

Third, it has to be something a little outside the ordinary. So Copland's "A Lincoln Portrait" is out, as is any march by Sousa.

So what should I play? You tell me.

This is democracy in action. Let the people speak!

- Ralph

Day 18 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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