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This is going to show her with the serious contemporary music in evolution works composed in 113 the year we have been dealing with for the past three weeks. Only one remains and that is Childs Ives remarkable second string quartet. On previous programs I have talked at considerable length about I have and I shall not recapitulate all of that now. Suffice it to say that I have is still much too infrequently performed and that we still know too little about this musical pioneers creative output and that we are a long way from a full evaluation of this composer's work. I would like to re-emphasize However for those who missed my earlier programs on AI. At which time I documented my arguments rather thoroughly that there was absolutely nothing that has been discovered by composers in the American and European Ivan guard in recent years. No matter how advanced that was not suggested and in most cases actually realized by Charles Ives before in
1914. If you heard second string quartet and didn't know who the composer was you'd probably guess that it was a middle period Bartok work with Bartok in one of his more acid moods. Musically speaking I was conceived to work as a kind of musical discussion for four men. In fact he called it a string quartet for four men who converse discuss argue politics fight shake hands shot up and then walk up a mountain side to view the firmament. A real Emersonian kind of philosophical approach. The three movements are subtitled discussions arguments and the call of the mountains. The work is almost entirely conceived on contrapuntal lines. At times the four lines are involved in such heated discussion so independently competing with each other that accurate performance is well-nigh impossible.
Of course in accuracy here is a pretty academic term because the effect that Ives wanted to achieve never fails in these poly rhythmic passages. The independence of the voices also leaves I was free to quote a variety of well-known melodies ranging from Dixie Marching Through Georgia Columbia the Gem of the ocean in the first movement to quotes from Tchaikovsky's from the scats of Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony and Brahms Second Symphony in the second movement. Dry sense of humor is also at work in this piece. In the second movement he gives the second violin a name. The quaint name of Rollo Rollo is conservative and timid and you hear Rollo counter the others arguments with sentimental condensers which Ives has marked down to a mask. Adding the phrase pretty tune ladies. The others interrupt his serenades with wild outbursts.
I was hated overly sentimental and delicate music going so far as to denounce the whole impressionist movement in France his whole concept of dissonance for example was predicated not so much on theoretical experiments but very simply a feeling for the intensity and eloquent power of dissonance. At a concert of contemporary music in 131 during a performance of Ruggles men and mountains I've suddenly got up and
shouted at a listener who was objecting a little too violently to Ruggles dissonant music. Stop being such a damn sissy. Why can't you stand up before a fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man. At any rate these passages in the string quartet with the little second violin cadenza is. Are a parody on this type of music lover. And these passages can be looked at as a kind of New England counterpart part to Wagner's Beck message parody later on in the movement. The argument gets too strenuous for Rollo. The second violin and he stops playing altogether at this point. I have wrote in the score a remark made so often by closed minded musicians. Too hard to play so it just can't be good music. When Rollo re-enters he plays forcefully on each beat of the bar with Ives indication beat time Rollo. While lives is having fun. A remarkable thing is happening musically at this point.
Around the second violin beat a three part can and interplay is taking place which is organized in an interesting rhythmic pattern. Each phrase consists of six beats and each beat is filled out by an increasing number of notes as in an arithmetic progression. The first beat having one note the second to the third three and so on until the sixth beat has six notes. This is the pattern. Since each line starts at a different point the three lines create a complex rhythmic counterpoint with for example one Clyde in 3 another in 5 in the third in four. It sounds like this perhaps you can pick out one of the patterns at least. Shortly after this a florid but harmonically simple passage follows. And here
Ives comments to Rollo join in again Professor. We're all in the key of C. You can do that nice and pretty. The second movement ends with the first violin suddenly turning his strings only to be barked at by the others. It's almost kind of zany Dadaism. The third movement has no verbal asides and is an abstract of a cation of the quiet and magnificence of a mountain view. But here to Ives curious mind is seeking out new contrapuntal devices. This very bad talkee in passage for example is the result of setting the first and second violins in a regular three sixteenth pattern while the viola and cello move in 4 sixteenths the continual displacement by the short value of one sixteenth makes an interesting new texture.
Finally the coda a start of musical apathy Asus is constructed on four divergent but regularly kept patterns. The cello holds a sort of anchor position moving in equal quarter notes. The viola Lopes behind the cello and a quarter triplet pattern the second violin moves slightly slower than either Viola our cello playing in notes a five sixteenths duration. In other words in a ratio of five to four to the cello. The first violin moves slowest of all in half note triplets. What is important of course ultimately is not these technical considerations that I have enumerated but the music I have makes
with these means. A music of quiet grandeur superbly be fitting the context of the work. Thanks. Let us listen now to the entire second string quartet.
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You heard Ives the second string quartet as played on a no longer obtainable period LP by the world a string quartet of the University of Illinois. That concludes the music representing the year one thousand nine hundred thirteen. And so we move on to the year that brought World War 1. I was who really hit his stride those years in terms of inspiration and sheer activity completed his masterpiece. Three places in New England in 1914. While we're on the subject of Ives I should like to play this work too on this program but we'll defer that for just a moment to play some short piano pieces by two other iconoclasts the one Henry Cowal in many ways Ives disciple. And then Eric
sakti that in a magic French figure who inspired the whole light hearted and para distinctly inclined movement of Lacey's. Cowal in 1914 was still only 17 years old and rode a short piano piece called advertisement a brash nervy little piece polytunnel in style and thus predating another piece of similar character made famous by Otto Rubenstein some years ago as an encore piece namely Villa-Lobos is published you know the cowl piece was written three years before the Lobos efford in the same vein advertisement as played by the composer Enrico. Was.
Was. Thank. You. Thank. You. Sateen is a strange figure in French music. Actually his importance rests more on his influence as a mentor to a whole generation of young composers than as a creative artist. I shall have much more to say about him on subsequent programs when I will deal with some of his major works. One interesting relationship to Ives comes to mind in the context of this program. I was not afraid to use try to melodic quotations nor to use popular ragtime material for instance. And this of course was one of society's favorite notions that of using banjo up Parisian Music Hall material in his
pieces. As for example by implication if not actually in these three silly little waltzes extravagantly entitled twilight violets distain gave the place your dignity. My French fails me at this point not being equal to the set theory implications of the title. Perhaps a generous listener will enlighten me as to the meaning. The pieces are played by I don't recall any. We return now to Ayers and his three places in New England.
The first piece is called the saint gardens in Boston Common and refers to the same garden statue to Colonel Shaw and his colored regiment. In this piece I was made use of Negro melodic fragments but not in a literal way. And in and in any case he set them as you will hear in a predominantly at tonal context. The orchestration is very ingenious and one of Ives most refined and sensitive efforts especially the manner in which he divides the strings into many subdivisions. About halfway through there is an interesting point to list the passage which And today's vagrants efforts in this direction by many years. Another very interesting aspect of this first piece is the Stravinsky like
use of a two note ostinato figure in the basses. It is even more like Stravinsky because the two notes are a minor third apart which is exactly the interval Stravinsky most frequently uses for his ostinato bass lines in the Ives you will notice this primarily at the beginning and the end of the piece. At.
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I err. The second piece in the Ives orchestral set is called Putnam's camp reading
Connecticut. In it I have strived to evoke the atmosphere and hustle and bustle of a revolutionary war camp. Here I was made use again of parliamentary cum Nations to give the effect of two independent musical ideas occurring simultaneously an idea that fascinated Ives ever since he heard as a boy two marching bands playing within earshot of each other in two different tempos and two different keys. At one point the music has quieted down when suddenly a faster March rhythm is superimposed moving at a ratio of three to four to the sustained background. Yes.
Later Ives incorporates a march which he composed way back in 1904 which in itself has the melody moving one third the speed of the accompanying own pots to confuse the rhythms even more. I've superimpose it on top of all of this a well-known marching melody in the trumpet. I don't expect you to hear all the separate elements but the total aggregate sound something like this. Notice too how a passage like this. It has the same sound and feeling. Miau Frank's example got in
his orchestral pieces of 10 and 15 years later here is Putnam's camp by Charles Ives in its entirety. I am. On a. Oh.
The final piece in the set is the beautiful has a tonic at Stockbridge.
It was suggested and here on quoting Charles Ives by a Sunday morning walk that Mrs. Ives and I took near Stockbridge the summer after we were married. We walked in the meadows along the river and heard the distant singing from the church across the river. The mist had not entirely left the river bed and the colors the running water the banks and trees were something that one would always remember. Once again four or five polyphonic lines serve to create a delicate sound fabric which sets off the melody in the French on hear the contrapuntal usage begets a different result incidentally than that in the quartet we heard earlier. Where in that work the lines remain polyphonic independent in the Housatonic at Stockbridge the lines blend together into one overall harmonic backdrop. Again the orchestration is very subtly differentiated and impressionistic Lee handled
as all of Ives pieces of this type. The movement finally rises to a great dissonant climax only to subside quietly. On a very tender and nostalgic note. Done to.
The boy. You just heard three places in New England an orchestral set by Charles
Ives. And it was played by the Eastman Rochester Symphony Orchestra conducted by Howard Hanson at our excellent performance I think that concludes this program and I invite you to join me again next week for another in this series. This has been Gunther shoulder.
Contemporary Music in Evolution
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Contemporary Music in Evolution is a radio program hosted by Gunther Schuller, which traces the evolution of Western classical music from 1899 to 1961. Each episode focuses on a specific year and chronicles some of the significant works, schools, and composers of the time. Schuller introduces several performance recordings in each episode, and gives commentary and analysis that also touch on previous episodes.
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Host: Schuller, Gunther
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Chicago: “Contemporary Music in Evolution; 9; 1913-1914,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
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APA: Contemporary Music in Evolution; 9; 1913-1914. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from