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American composers 20th century Almanac a series of original compositions by American composers commissioned and recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. These compositions were written to highlight important American holidays or sees no observances. Today we are going to hear the first performance of homage to great Americans for portrayed for woodwind quintet played by the University of Michigan woodwind quintet. But first here is Philip as I am certain the composer with a few words about his composition. It has been a challenge and a wonderful experience to write a woodwind quintet which I have called homage to great Americans and I wish to express my appreciation to radio station WUOM at the University of Michigan for giving me this opportunity. The four American leaders that I have chosen to write about have one great attribute in common. Theodore Roosevelt
Abraham Lincoln Thomas Paine and George Washington relied on and had an abiding faith in the people of America. They firmly believe that given the facts the people of America could be depended upon and would strive for right and justice regardless of the odds against them. Because of this firm belief these men inspired confidence and were always respectful of that confidence. Each led democracy to a new level of true liberty for the American people. This attribute of face is the unifying idea which I try to express throughout the quintet. The movements differ from each other on a more personal basis. In each movement I have tried to express something of my ideas and reactions to these men. My hope is that being an American. My ideas are representative of how most Americans think and feel about these leaders. My thoughts were on these men individually as I worked on each movement. In other words certain
rather concentrated feelings about them were brought to the surface of my awareness. I've tried to communicate these feelings in the understanding that they are similar to the feelings of most Americans. If I had been successful in my attempts to express homage to these great Americans it may be that others will also have similar feelings on hearing the music. A short discussion of each movement may help to clarify my meaning. The first movement is Mark Theodore Roosevelt. I think of Roosevelt in terms of his vigorous fighting qualities his love of life his great courage and his sometimes capricious moments. He was a vigorous champion of justice. But typically in fighting corruption and restraints in trying to express my understanding of his nature the movement is a mixture of rhythmic vigor and capricious moments with an overall feeling of confidence and love of life. I hope I have communicated something of Roosevelt's driving enthusiasm and
something of my understanding of these qualities. The second movement Abraham Lincoln is in the nature of an elegy. This is not so much a picture of Lincoln himself as it is a feeling of sadness inspired by thinking about him. I believe most people have this kind of reaction to Lincoln. Lincoln holds a unique position in the minds of Americans. His greatness of character and leadership in America's most difficult time has been remembered and buried in our consciousness almost on the level of mythological remembrance. His personal sufferings and final tragedy have been assimilated by all of us. Although he was a man of great humor and robust vigor our first reaction to him is I believe one of sorrow such great as are spirit and leadership is remembered on a universal level. The Elegy incident is an attempt to communicate some idea of these feelings by very simple means.
I have relied on simplicity and directness of expression in order that the feeling may be easily perceived. The third movement Thomas Paine is this character a movement painter is a man who managed to keep himself in trouble most of his life. He was a radical thinker for his time and a person who was impatient for reform and freedom is a great service to the revolution was his ability to arouse the people in the army in the darkest hours of the revolution. His series of pamphlets the crisis stimulated the colonists into renewed efforts at the very time when all seemed lost because of his abilities in arousing public opinion and in giving the Army first courage. He is remembered as one of the great leaders of the revolution. His drive and desire for a new order of things was an inspiration to the colonists. His temperament of impatience agitation and rebellion against the status
quo certainly made him the right man for the right place in their history. I have tried to communicate something of this feeling of impatience and desire for action by writing fast and somewhat nervous movement. The last movement is an attempt to communicate some feelings about George Washington. The slow introduction may be thought of as Washington's reluctance to assume the responsibilities thrust upon him. However the main body of the movement represents a steadfast driving purpose in the face of the greatest trouble and adversity. He was a man of confident and great faith both in his cause and in the people he represented. He inspired confidence in spite of adversity. It was sad if that he could die by inches to save the people. He was unique in his mastery of self and in maintaining a balance between passion and patience. I have tried to express in this movement some of these characteristics to indicate his steadfast
purpose. The movement has no tempo changes after the introduction. However each section tries to show by contrast the many characteristics we associate with Washington. He has persevered in the greatest adversity and also communicates a sense of confidence and courage to all of us. I've attempted to communicate these feelings with versity courage and confidence as being those characteristics Americans most often associate with Washington. These four great leaders seem to me to present the opportunity to write a four movement quintet which contains both you and a tea and variety. All of the work is conceived as a single unified work. Each movement could be used separately on appropriate occasions. My main hope is that I have been able to communicate in each movement. Feelings and ideas about these men that are shared by all Americans. Perhaps a word about the
problems of writing for woodwind quintet may be of some interest to the listener. Because of the individualistic tone qualities of each instrument and the fact that human need for breath control are involved it is a problem to create a sustained continuity of solitude. I think the greatest danger in writing for woodwinds is for the composer to forget this problem. Too often for my taste woodwind quintet writing is made to sound like morse code signals. In other words staccato rhythmic passages are overworked simply because this is one of the basic characteristics of the idiom. A lot of not particularly try to avoid this aspect of when sound. I have tried to use the lyric qualities and sustaining qualities of these instruments as well. My overall attempt was to create a kaleidoscope of sound which seldom emphasizes one type of writing over another. I feel it's serious an expressive
music has a great opportunity in this idiom and that it is a mistake for composers to limit themselves to only one of the many possibilities available in the woodwind quintet. It is my hope that I have written a quintet which maintains interest in its overall sound and at the same time gives expression to the ideas that I have tried to communicate. That was Philip bizarreness and now the University of Michigan woodwind quintet will perform for the first time. Homage to great Americans. The four portraits Well woodwind quintet are Theodore Roosevelt Allegro Abraham Lincoln lento Thomas Paine Presto and George Washington lento. I like grow. Well.
Ooh. Ooh ooh ooh. Ooh. Ooh. You have heard the first performance of homage to great Americans by Philip resents and
there's been one in a series of original compositions by American composers American composers 20th century Almanac has been commissioned and recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters consultant while this series has been Ross leaf any composer in residence at the University of Michigan. This is the N.A. E.B. Radio Network.
American composer
Philip Bezanson
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features Philip Bezanson's "Homage to Great Americans: Four portraits for woodwind quintets."
Series Description
Original works by American composers commissioned for this series. The compositions are meant to highlight important American holidays or seasonal observances.
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Composer: Bezanson, Philip, 1916-1975
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Speaker: Julin, Joseph R.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: S59-9-? (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00?
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Chicago: “American composer ; Philip Bezanson,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “American composer ; Philip Bezanson.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: American composer ; Philip Bezanson. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from