Friday, July 04, 2008

The Fourth Going Forth

Due to a last-minute schedule change, I ended up not doing a Fourth of July program for WTJU. I had asked listeners to provide me with suggestions and offered something of a challenge. What would be appropriate music for Independence Day that hasn't been played to death?

Here's the playlist I came up with -- I might go ahead and air this Wednesday when I'm back on the air. After all, good music knows no season.

Quartet for Open Strings - Benjamin Franklin
- Although it's probably spurious, the quartet's a charming little work. And it's a good way to get Ben Franklin's name on the program.


String Trio No. 1, Op. 3 - John Antes

- John Antes was a member of the Moravian Church, which had a rich musical tradition on par with the best Europe had to offer in the 1700's. Antes' chamber works are the earliest by an American-born composer and compare favorably to trios by his contemporaries, Haydn, and Mozart.


Jordan - William Billings

- Self-taught musician William Billings, along with Supply Belcher, William Walker, and others, created a uniquely American form of sacred music that took off during the Great Awakening. Today many shape-note singing societies continue to keep Billings' art alive.


Shiloh - C. L. Barnhouse

- Barnhouse was one of the most important publishers -- and composers -- of band music after the Civil War. His impatience with bad music was well publicised -- and one I can empathize with.

Organ Concerto in E flat minor, Op. 55 - Horatio Parker
- Best remembered as the composition professor Charles Ives crossed swords with, Parker wrote in a Brahmsian style many others (such Charles Villiers Stanford and Hubert H. Parry in England) used. Still, his music possesses a unique voice that's well worth hearing.


Union - Louis Moreau Gottschalk

- New Orleans native Louis Moreau Gottschalk was the American Chopin. He toured extensively as a piano virtuoso, and virtually all of his composition were for his instrument. Yet there's no mistaking Gottschalk for a European composer!


Symphony No. 2 - Charles Ives

- Ives is perhaps the quintessential American composer. While classically trained, his music has a homemade quality to it. Ives often quoted American melodies in his music. His second symphony incorporates "Turkey in the Straw" and "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" among others.


The Pageant of P. T. Barnum - Douglas Moore

- Douglas Moore drew inspiration from American culture. His compositions grew out of the same gestures found in American folk music, and his two operas, "The Devil and Daniel Webster" and "The Ballad of Baby Doe" were both based on American folk tales. "The Pageant of P. T. Barnum" paints a musical portrait of Barnum and several of his more famous attractions.


The Merry Mount Suite, Op. 31 - Howard Hanson

- Howard Hanson's opera "Merry Mount" was set in the Maryland colony of the same name. It's his most popular work and has enjoyed a good run at the Metropolitan Opera.

Symphony No. 66, Op. 428 "Hymn to Glacier Peak" - Alan Hovhaness
- Alan Hovhaness was proud of his Armenian heritage, yet his music -- while ethereal -- never completely lost its American accent. His long, expansive hymn tunes, such as the one that opens this symphony could only come from this side of the Atlantic.

Freedom Fanfare - Tim Rumsey

- Rumsey is a modern American composer still in the early part of this career. The title of the work says it all.

And this just scratches the surface. I've left out Harry Partch, Charles Tomlinson Griffes, Virgil Thompson, John Adams, John Alden Carpenter, and much more.

We'll see how many we can fit on Wednesday morning.

Have a great holiday!

- Ralph

Day 20 of the WJMA Web Watch.

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