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Songs Our Fathers Loved: A Charles Ives Thread
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Leo K



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 274
Location: Tucson...with all the smiling ladies!

PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Continued from above...

Charles Ives wrote of the Emerson music:

“I may always have the pleasure of not finishing it . . . seeing it grow and feeling that it is not finished, and the hope that it
never will be.”


David Porter outlines what Ives did with the Emerson music outside of the Sonata:

He had not used in the sonata movement a large part of the concerto’s opening section, but he proceeded to rework portions of that into three other piano pieces, the Studies No. 1, No. 2, and No. 9 (The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830’s and 1840’s). These studies were adaptations of the “Centrifugal Cadenzas” in the Emerson Concerto, Cadenzas 1–3 for Studies No. 9, No. 1, and No. 2, respectively. A part of Cadenza 4 found its way into Study No. 23 (and a truncated version of it into the “Emerson” movement of Concord).

Some time between 1915 and 1918, Ives arranged, from another of the unused concerto passages, the first of his Transcriptions from “Emerson” (also for piano). These transcriptions grew to four after Ives had Concord privately printed in 1921. In the “Emerson” movement of Concord, Ives had simplified his music, but in the Transcriptions he restored thicker, more complex textures. (More than two decades later, when Ives reworked the Concord Sonata, resulting in a second edition published in 1947, he reinstated in the “Emerson” movement some of these original textures.)

Even though Ives’s aim in the Four Transcriptions from “Emerson” was to maintain the original character of the Emerson Concerto, they lacked the music of the “Centrifugal Cadenzas.” By the late 1920s, Ives had decided to reinstate the music of Cadenzas 1–3 in the first of the “Emerson” Transcriptions. This decision provided the impetus to make his first recordings (in June 1933, in the Columbia Graphophone Studio in London). About a year before, he had written: “Shortly I think I shall make a record, perhaps playing each movement two or three different ways. This will be done more for my own satisfaction and study, and also to save the trouble and eyesight of copying it all out. After the record is made, Mr. Henry Cowell, Mr. Nicolas Slonimsky, or some other acoustical genius, could write it down for me—and probably better than I can.” (Memos, p. 80)

Ives thought the recording sessions were a huge disappointment. He told Cowell [composer Henry Cowell] that he could have played better with one hand tied behind his back. He must have also realized that the poor sound quality of the recordings would make it nearly impossible for anyone to write down what he had played. And so, probably later that same year, he prepared a very special photostat set of the “Emerson” Transcriptions, which previously had been professionally copied. He heavily amended the music, and added six sheets with numerous inserts, mostly for the first and third Transcriptions.


To hear these Emerson Transcriptions...buy this CD:



Next...on to the second movement of the Concord Sonata...Hawthorne...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:20 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Interlude...

Here I go into a little rambling...

One time I traveled to Aspen, Colorado to attend the famous Aspen
Music Festival. My main objective was to hear Das Lied Von Der Erde
by Mahler (I was able to attend rehearsals). I brought Swafford's
bio on Ives with me to read before concerts. On one occasion this
nice student, named Wynonna, saw the book and laughed and said they
were just talking about Ives during a Beethoven rehearsal. Wynonna
was conducting the Beethoven 4th and somehow a group of her players
was playing another tune at the same time, and someone said it
sounded like Ives.

One time my music theory professor, Kevin Dobbe, took out the score
to the 2nd movement of Ives's Three Places in New England and had me
follow the score with him while blasting the stereo at top volume.
We were both awed at the metric complexity and my professor's
running commentary was illuminating. He was like a kid opening up a
christmas present. Another student came in the room and said, "What
the hell is this? What are you doing?" Professor Dobbe is saying,
"Not now! Wait till this is over!" Dobbe would tell me Ives was also
a great mathmatician, and then he would grab some chalk and draw up
on the chalkboard how Ives would write with six or more different
time signatures at once and etc. If I had been a better student I
could've learnt more! But back then I was quite unfocused!
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:27 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Concord Sonata essay continued...

II. Hawthorne



Here is a picture of a section of the score (a part where the player needs a "length of board" to press the keys down):




The Hawthorne movement has the more obvious sounding quotes...even if one doesn't recognize the actual name of the tune, it's easy to hear the tune is a hymn or march:

[from Ives's Essays...]

This fundamental part of Hawthorne is not attempted in our music
(the 2nd movement of the series) which is but an "extended
fragment" trying to suggest some of his wilder, fantastical
adventures into the half-childlike, half-fairylike phantasmal
realms. It may have something to do with the children's
excitement on that "frosty Berkshire morning, and the frost
imagery on the enchanted hall window" or something to do with
"Feathertop," the "Scarecrow," and his "Looking Glass" and the
little demons dancing around his pipe bowl; or something to do
with the old hymn tune that haunts the church and sings only to
those in the churchyard, to protect them from secular noises, as
when the circus parade comes down Main Street; or something to do
with the concert at the Stamford camp meeting, or the "Slave's
Shuffle"; or something to do with the Concord he-nymph, or the
"Seven Vagabonds," or "Circe's Palace," or something else in the
wonderbook--not something that happens, but the way something
happens; or something to do with the "Celestial Railroad," or
"Phoebe's Garden," or something personal, which tries to be
"national" suddenly at twilight, and universal suddenly at
midnight; or something about the ghost of a man who never lived,
or about something that never will happen, or something else that
is not.


This 2nd movement of the Concord forms a kind of trilogy with two other works. An orchestral movement called the “Comedy” (from the 4th Symphony) and a solo piano piece called The Celestial Railroad are essentially different versions of the same music, all based on Hawthorne's short story The Celestial Railroad, first published in 1843:

Not a great while ago, passing through the gate of dreams, I visited that region of the earth in which lies the famous city of Destruction. It interested me much to learn that, by the public spirit of some of the inhabitants, a railroad has recently been established between this populous and flourishing town, and the Celestial City. Having a little time upon my hands, I resolved to gratify a liberal curiosity to make a trip thither. Accordingly, one fine morning, after paying my bill at the hotel, and directing the porter to stow my luggage behind a coach, I took my seat in the vehicle and set out for the Station- house. It was my good fortune to enjoy the company of a gentleman--one Mr. Smooth-it-away--who, though he had never actually visited the Celestial City, yet seemed as well acquainted with its laws, customs, policy, and statistics, as with those of the city of Destruction, of which he was a native townsman. Being, moreover, a director of the railroad corporation, and one of its largest stockholders, he had it in his power to give me all desirable information respecting that praiseworthy enterprise.



Our coach rattled out of the city, and, at a short distance from its outskirts, passed over a bridge, of elegant construction, but somewhat too slight, as I imagined, to sustain any considerable weight. On both sides lay an extensive quagmire, which could not have been more disagreeable either to sight or smell, had all the kennels of the earth emptied their pollution there.

"This," remarked Mr. Smooth-it-away, "is the famous Slough of Despond--a disgrace to all the neighborhood; and the greater, that it might so easily be converted into firm ground."

"I have understood," said I, "that efforts have been made for that purpose, from time immemorial. Bunyan mentions that above twenty thousand cart-loads of wholesome instructions had been thrown in here, without effect."


to be continued…
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Last edited by Leo K on Sat Jul 14, 2007 6:17 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:33 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

continued from above

"Very probably!--and what effect could be anticipated from such unsubstantial stuff?" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away. "You observe this convenient bridge. We obtained a sufficient foundation for it by throwing into the Slough some editions of books of morality, volumes of French philosophy and German rationalism, tracts, sermons, and essays of modern clergymen, extracts from Plato, Confucius, and various Hindoo sages, together with a few ingenious com- mentaries upon texts of Scripture--all of which, by some scientific process, have been converted into a mass like granite. The whole bog might be filled up with similar matter."



It really seemed to me, however, that the bridge vibrated and heaved up and down in a very formidable manner; and, spite of Mr. Smooth-it-away's testimony to the solidity of its foundation, I should be loth to cross it in a crowded omnibus; especially, if each passenger were encumbered with as heavy luggage as that gentleman and myself. Nevertheless, we got over without accident, and soon found ourselves at the Station-house. This very neat and spacious edifice is erected on the site of the little Wicket-Gate, which formerly, as all old pilgrims will recollect, stood directly across the highway, and, by its inconvenient narrowness, was a great obstruction to the traveller of liberal mind and expansive stomach. The reader of John Bunyan will be glad to know, that Christian's old friend Evangelist, who was accustomed to supply each pilgrim with a mystic roll, now presides at the ticket office. Some malicious persons, it is true, deny the identity of this reputable character with the Evangelist of old times, and even pretend to bring competent evidence of an imposture. Without involving myself in a dispute, I shall merely observe, that, so far as my experience goes, the square pieces of pasteboard, now delivered to passengers, are much more convenient and useful along the road, than the antique roll of parchment. Whether they will be as readily received at the gate of the Celestial City, I decline giving an opinion.

A large number of passengers were already at the Station-house, awaiting the departure of cars. By the aspect and demeanor of these persons, it was easy to judge that the feelings of the community had undergone a very favorable change, in reference to the celestial pilgrimage. It would have done Bunyan's heart good to see it. Instead of a lonely and ragged man, with a huge burthen on his back, plodding along sorrowfully on foot, while the whole city hooted after him, here were parties of the first gentry and most respectable people in the neighborhood, setting forth towards the Celestial City, as cheerfully as if the pilgrimage were merely a summer tour. Among the gentlemen were characters of deserved eminence, magistrates, politicians, and men of wealth, by whose example religion could not but be greatly recommended to their meaner brethren. In the ladies' apartment, too, I rejoiced to distinguish some of those flowers of fashionable society, who are so well fitted to adorn the most elevated circles of the Celestial City. There was much pleasant conversation about the news of the day, topics of business, politics, or the lighter matters of amusement while religion, though indubitably the main thing at heart, was thrown tastefully into the background. Even an infidel would have heard little or nothing to shock his sensibility. One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage, I must not forget to mention. Our enormous burthens, instead of being carried on our shoulders, as had been the custom of old, were all snugly deposited in the baggage-car, and, as I was assured, would be delivered to their respective owners at the journey's end. Another thing, likewise, the benevolent reader will be delighted to understand. It may be remembered that there was an ancient feud between Prince Beelzebub and the keeper of the Wicket-Gate, and that the adherents of the former distinguished personage were accustomed to shoot deadly arrows at honest pilgrims, while knocking at the door. This dispute, much to the credit as well of the illustrious potentate above-mentioned, as of the worthy and enlightened Directors of the railroad, has been pacifically arranged, on the principle of mutual compromise. The Prince's subjects are now pretty numerously employed about the Station house, some in taking care of the baggage, others in collecting fuel, feeding the engines, and such congenial occupations; and I can conscientiously affirm, that persons more attentive to their business, more willing to accommodate, or more generally agreeable to the passengers, are not to be found on any railroad. Every good heart must surely exult at so satisfactory an arrangement of an immemorial difficulty.


to be continued…
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:45 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

continued from above

"Where is Mr. Great-heart?" inquired I. "Beyond a doubt, the Directors have engaged that famous old champion to be chief conductor on the railroad?

"Why, no," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a dry cough. "He was offered the situation of brake-man, but, to tell you the truth, our friend Great-heart has grown preposterously stiff and narrow in his old age. He has so often guided pilgrims over the road, on foot, that he considers it a sin to travel in any other fashion. Besides, the old fellow had entered so heartily into the ancient feud with Prince Beelzebub, that he would have been perpetually at blows or ill language with some of the prince's subjects, and thus have embroiled us anew. So, on the whole, we were not sorry when honest Great-heart went off to the Celestial City in a huff, and left us at liberty to choose a more suitable and accommodating man. Yonder comes the conductor of the train. You will probably recognize him at once."

The engine at this moment took its station in advance of the cars, looking, I must confess, much more like a sort of mechanical demon that would hurry us to the infernal regions, than a laudable contrivance for smoothing our way to the Celestial City. On its top sat a personage almost enveloped in smoke and flame, which--not to startle the reader--appeared to gush from his own mouth and stomach, as well as from the engine's brazen abdomen.

"Do my eyes deceive me?" cried I. "What on earth is this! A living creature?-- if so, he is own brother to the engine he rides upon!"

"Poh, poh, you are obtuse!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a hearty laugh. "Don't you know Apollyon, Christian's old enemy, with whom he fought so fierce a battle in the Valley of Humiliation? He was the very fellow to manage the engine; and so we have reconciled him to the custom of going on pilgrimage, and engaged him as chief conductor."

"Bravo, bravo!" exclaimed I, with irrepressible enthusiasm, "this shows the liberality of the age; this proves, if anything can, that all musty prejudices are in a fair way to be obliterated. And how will Christian rejoice to hear of this happy transformation of his old antagonist! I promise myself great pleasure in informing him of it, when we reach the Celestial City."

The passengers being all comfortably seated, we now rattled away merrily, accomplishing a greater distance in ten minutes than Christian probably trudged over in a day. It was laughable while we glanced along, as it were, at the tail of a thunderbolt, to observe two dusty foot-travellers, in the old pilgrim-guise, with cockle-shell and staff, their mystic rolls of parchment in their hands, and their intolerable burthens on their backs. The preposterous obstinacy of these honest people, in persisting to groan and stumble along the difficult pathway, rather than take advantage of modern improvements, excited great mirth among our wiser brotherhood. We greeted the two pilgrims with many pleasant gibes and a roar of laughter; whereupon, they gazed at us with such woeful and absurdly compassionate visages, that our merriment grew tenfold more obstreperous. Apollyon, also, entered heartily into the fun, and contrived to flirt the smoke and flame of the engine, or of his own breath, into their faces, and envelope them in an atmosphere of scalding steam. These little practical jokes amused us mightily, and doubtless afforded the pilgrims the gratification of considering themselves martyrs.

At some distance from the railroad, Mr. Smooth-it-away pointed to a large, antique edifice, which, he observed, was a tavern of long standing, and had formerly been a noted stopping-place for pilgrims. In Bunyan's road-book it is mentioned as the Interpreter's House.



"I have long had a curiosity to visit that old mansion," remarked I.

"It is not one of our stations, as you perceive," said my companion. "The keeper was violently opposed to the railroad, and well he might be, as the track left his house of entertainment on one side, and thus was pretty certain to deprive him of all his reputable customers. But the foot-path still passes his door; and the old gentleman now and then receives a call from some simple traveller, and entertains him with fare as old-fashioned as himself."

Before our talk on this subject came to a conclusion, we were rushing by the place where Christian's burthen fell from his shoulders, sight of the Cross. This served as a theme for Mr. Sooth-it-away, Mr. Live-for-the-world, Mr. Hide-sin-in- the-heart, Mr. Scaly-conscience, and a knot of gentlemen from the town of Shun- repentance, to descant upon the inestimable advantages resulting from the safety of our baggage. Myself, and all the passengers indeed, joined with great unanimity in this view of the matter; for our burthens were rich in many things esteemed precious throughout the world; and especially, we each of us possessed a great variety of favorite Habits, which we trusted would not be out of fashion, even in the polite circles of the Celestial City. It would have been a sad spectacle to see such an assortment of valuable articles tumbling into the sepulchre. Thus pleasantly conversing on the favorable circumstances of our positions, as compared with those of past pilgrims, and of narrow-minded ones at the present day, we soon found ourselves at the foot of the Hill Difficulty. Through the very heart of this rocky mountain a tunnel has been constructed, of most admirable architecture, with a lofty arch and a spacious double-track; so that, unless the earth and rocks should chance to crumble down, it will remain an eternal monument of the builder's skill and enterprise. It is a great though incidental advantage, that the materials from the heart of the Hill Difficulty have been employed in filling up the Valley of Humiliation; thus obviating the necessity of descending into that disagreeable and unwholesome hollow.

"This is a wonderful improvement, indeed," said I. "Yet I should have been glad of an opportunity to visit the Palace Beautiful, and be introduced to the charming young ladies--Miss Prudence, Miss Piety, Miss Charity, and the rest-- who have the kindness to entertain pilgrims there."

"Young ladies!" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away, as soon as he could speak for laughing. "And charming young ladies! Why, my dear fellow, they are old maids, every soul of them--prim, starched, dry, and angular--and not one of them, I will venture to say, has altered so much as the fashion of her gown, since the days of Christian's pilgrimage."

"Ah, well," said I, much comforted, "then I can very readily dispense with their acquaintance."



The respectable Apollyon was now putting on the steam at a prodigious rate; anxious, perhaps, to get rid of the unpleasant reminiscences connected with the spot where he had so disastrously encountered Christian. Consulting Mr. Bunyan's road-book, I perceived that we must now be within a few miles of the Valley of the Shadow of Death; into which doleful region, at our present speed, we should plunge much sooner than seemed at all desirable. In truth, I expected nothing better than to find myself in the ditch on one side, or the quay on the other. But on communicating my apprehensions to Mr. Smooth-it-away, he assured me that the difficulties of this passage, even in its worst condition, had been vastly exaggerated, and that, in its present state of improvement, I might consider myself as safe as on any railroad in Christendom.

to be continued…
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:49 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

continued from above

Even while we were speaking, the train shot into the entrance of this dreaded Valley. Though I plead guilty to some foolish palpitations of the heart, during our headlong rush over the causeway here constructed, yet it were unjust to withhold the highest encomiums on the boldness of its original conception, and the ingenuity of those who executed it. It was gratifying, likewise, to observe how much care had been taken to dispel the everlasting gloom, and supply the defect of cheerful sunshine; not a ray of which has ever penetrated among these awful shadows. For this purpose, the inflammable gas, which exudes plentifully from the soil, is collected by means of pipes, and thence communicated to a quadruple row of lamps, along the whole extent of the passage. Thus a radiance has been created, even out of the fiery and sulphurous curse that rests for ever upon the Valley; a radiance hurtful, however, to the eyes, and somewhat bewildering, as I discovered by the changes which it wrought in the visages of my companions. In this respect, as compared with natural daylight, there is the same difference as between truth and falsehood; but if the reader have ever travelled through the dark Valley, he will have learned to be thankful for any light that he could get; if not from the sky above, then from the blasted soil beneath. Such was the red brilliancy of these lamps, that they appeared to build walls of fire on both sides of the track, between which we held our course at lightning speed, while a rever- berating thunder filled the Valley with its echoes. Had the engine run off the track--a catastrophe, it is whispered, by no means unprecedented--the bottomless pit, if there be any such place, would undoubtedly have received us. Just as some dismal fooleries of this nature had made my heart quake, there came a tremendous shriek, careering along the Valley as if a thousand devils had burst their lungs to utter it, but which proved to be merely the whistle of the engine, arriving at a stopping-place.

The spot, where we had now paused, is the same that our friend Bunyan-- truthful man, but infected with many fantastic notions--has designated, in terms plainer than I like to repeat, as the mouth of the infernal region. This, however, must be a mistake; inasmuch as Mr. Smooth-it-away, while we remained in the smoky and lurid cavern, took occasion to prove that Tophet has not even a metaphorical existence. The place, he assured us, is no other than the crater of a half-extinct volcano, in which the Directors had caused forges to be set up, for the manufacture of railroad iron. Hence, also, is obtained a plentiful supply of fuel for the use of the engines. Whoever had gazed into the dismal obscurity of the broad cavern-mouth, whence ever and anon darted huge tongues of dusky flame-- and had seen the strange, half-shaped monsters, and visions of faces horribly grotesque, into which the smoke seemed to wreathe itself,--and had heard the awful murmurs, and shrieks, and deep shuddering whispers of the blast, sometimes forming themselves into words almost articulate,--would have seized upon Mr. Smooth-it-away's comfortable explanation, as greedily as we did. The inhabitants of the cavern, moreover, were unlovely personages, dark, smoke- begrimed, generally deformed, with mis-shapen feet, and a glow of dusky redness in their eyes; as if their hearts had caught fire, and were blazing out of the upper windows. It struck me as a peculiarity, that the laborers at the forge, and those who brought fuel to the engine, when they began to draw short breath, positively emitted smoke from their mouth and nostrils.

Among the idlers about the train, most of whom were puffing cigars which they had lighted at the flame of the crater, I was perplexed to notice several who, to my certain knowledge, had heretofore set forth by railroad for the Celestial City. They looked wild, and smoky, with a singular resemblance, indeed, to the native inhabitants; like whom, also, they had a disagreeable propensity to ill- natured gibes and sneers, the habit of which had wrought a settled contortion of their visages. Having been on speaking terms with one of these persons--an indolent, good-for-nothing fellow, who went by the name of Take-it-easy--I called him, and inquired what was his business there.

"Did you not start," said I, "for the Celestial City?"

"That's a fact," said Mr. Take-it-easy, carelessly puffing some smoke into my eyes. "But I heard such bad accounts, that I never took pains to climb the hill, on which the city stands. No business doing--no fun going on--nothing to drink, and no smoking allowed--and a thrumming of church-music from morning till night! I would not stay in such a place, if they offered me house-room and living free."

"But, my good Mr. Take-it-easy," cried I, "why take up your residence here, of all places in the world?"

"Oh," said the loafer, with a grin, "it is very warm hereabouts, and I meet with plenty of old acquaintances, and altogether the place suits me. I hope to see you back again, some day soon. A pleasant journey to you!"

While he was speaking, the bell of the engine rang, and we dashed away, after dropping a few passengers, but receiving no new ones. Rattling onward through the Valley, we were dazzled with the fiercely gleaming gas-lamps, as before. But sometimes, in the dark of intense brightness, grim faces, that bore the aspect and expression of individual sins, or evil passions, seemed to thrust themselves through the veil of light, glaring upon us, and stretching forth a great dusky hand as if to impede our progress. I almost thought that they were my own sins that appalled me there. These were freaks of imagination--nothing more, certainly,-- mere delusions, which I ought to be heartily ashamed of--but, all through the Dark Valley, I was tormented, and pestered, and dolefully bewildered, with the same kind of waking dreams. The mephitic gases of that region intoxicate the brain. As the light of natural day, however, began to struggle with the glow of the lanterns, these vain imaginations lost their vividness, and finally vanished with the first ray of sunshine that greeted our escape from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Ere we had gone a mile beyond it, I could well nigh have taken my oath, that this whole gloomy passage was a dream.


to be continued…
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2007 4:57 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

continued from above…

At the end of the Valley, as John Bunyan mentions, is a cavern, where, in his days, dwealt two cruel giants, Pope and Pagan, who had strewn the ground about their residence with the bones of slaughtered pilgrims. These vile old troglodytes are no longer there; but in their deserted cave another terrible giant has thrust himself, and makes it his business to seize upon honest travellers, and fat them for his table with plentiful meals of smoke, mist, moonshine, raw potatoes, and saw- dust. He is a giant by birth, and is called Giant Transcendentalist; but as to his form, his features, his substance, and his nature generally, it is the chief peculiarity of this huge miscreant, that neither he for himself, nor anybody for him, has ever been able to describe them. As we rushed by the cavern's mouth, we caught a hasty glimpse of him, looking somewhat like an ill- proportioned figure, but considerably more like a heap of fog and duskiness. He shouted after us, but in so strange a phraseology, that we knew not what he meant, nor whether to be encouraged or affrighted.

It was late in the day, when the train thundered into the ancient city of Vanity, where Vanity Fair is still at the height of prosperity, and exhibits an epitome of whatever is brilliant, gay, and fascinating, beneath the sun. As I purposed to make a considerable stay here, it gratified me to learn that there is no longer the want of harmony between the townspeople and pilgrims, which impelled the former to such lamentably mistaken measures as the persecution of Christian, and the fiery martyrdom of Faithful. On the contrary, as the new railroad brings with it great trade and a constant influx of strangers, the lord of Vanity Fair its chief patron, and the capitalists of the city are among the largest stockholders. Many passengers stop to take their pleasure or make their profit in the Fair, instead of going onward to the Celestial City. Indeed, such are the charms of the place, that people often affirm it to be the true and only heaven; stoutly contending that there is no other, that those who seek further are mere dreamers, and that, if the fabled brightness of the Celestial City lay but a bare mile beyond the gates of Vanity, they would not be fools enough to go thither. Without subscribing to these, perhaps, exaggerated encomiums, I can truly say, that my abode in the city was mainly agreeable, and my intercourse with the inhabitants productive of much amusement and instruction.

Being naturally of a serious turn, my attention was directed to the solid advantages derivable from a residence here, rather than to the effervescent pleasures, which are the grand object with too many visitants. The Christian reader, if he have had no accounts of the city later than Bunyan's time, will be surprised to hear that almost every street has its church, and that the reverend clergy are nowhere held in higher respect than at Vanity Fair. And well do they deserve such honorable estimation; for the maxims of wisdom and virtue which fall from their lips, come from as deep a spiritual Source, and tend to as lofty a religious aim, as those of the sagest philosophers of old. In justification of this high praise, I need only mention the names of the Rev. Mr. Shallow-deep; the Rev. Mr. Stumble-at-Truth; that fine old clerical character, the Rev. Mr. This-to- day, who expects shortly to resign his pulpit to the Rev. Mr. That-to-morrow; together with the Rev. Mr. Bewilderment; the Rev. Mr. Clog-the-spirit; and, last and greatest, the Rev. Dr. Wind-of-doctrine. The labors of these eminent divines are aided by those of innumerable lecturers, who diffuse such a various profun- dity, in all subjects of human or celestial science, that any man may acquire an omnigenous erudition, without the trouble of even learning to read. Thus literature is etherealized by assuming for its medium the human voice; and knowledge, depositing all its heavier particles--except, doubtless, its gold-- becomes exhaled into a sound, which forthwith steals into the ever-open ear of the community. These ingenious methods constitute a sort of machinery, by which thought and study are done to every person's hand, without his putting himself to the slightest inconvenience in the matter. There is another species of machine for the wholesale manufacture of individual morality. This excellent result is effected by societies of all manner of virtuous purposes; with which a man has merely to connect himself, throwing, as it were, his quota of virtue into the common stock; and the president and directors will take care that the aggregate amount be well applied. All these, and other wonderful improvements in ethics, religion, and literature, being made plain to my comprehension, by the ingenious Mr. Smooth-it-away, inspired me with a vast admiration of Vanity Fair.

It would fill a volume, in an age of pamphlets, were I to record all my observations in this great capital of human business and pleasure. There was an unlimited range of society--the powerful, the wise, the witty, and philanthropists, all making their own market at the Fair, and deeming no price too exorbitant for such commodities as hit their fancy. It was well worth one's while, even if he had no idea of buying or selling, to loiter through the bazaars, and observe the various sorts of traffic that were going forward.

Some of the purchasers, I thought, made very foolish bargains. For instance, a young man having inherited a splendid fortune, laid out a considerable portion of it in the purchase of diseases, and finally spent all the rest for a heavy lot of repentance and a suit of rags. A very pretty girl bartered a heart as clear as crystal, and which seemed her most valuable possession, for another jewel of the same kind, but so worn and defaced as to be utterly worthless. In one shop, there a great many crowns of laurel and myrtle, which soldiers, authors, statesmen, and various other people, pressed eagerly to buy; some purchased these paltry wreaths with their lives; others by a toilsome servitude of years; and many sacrificed whatever was most valuable, yet finally slunk away without the crown. There was a sort of stock or scrip, called Conscience, which seemed to be in great demand, and would purchase almost anything. Indeed, few rich commodities were to be obtained without paying a heavy sum in this particular stock, and a man's business was seldom very lucrative, unless he knew precisely when and how to throw his hoard of Conscience into the market. Yet as this stock was the only thing of permanent value, whoever parted with it was sure to find himself a loser, in the long run. Several of the speculations were of a questionable character. Occasionally, a member of Congress recruited his pocket by the sale of his constituents; and I was assured that public officers have often sold their country at very moderate prices. Thousands sold their happiness for a whim. Gilded chains were in great demand, and purchased with almost any sacrifice. In truth, those who desired, according to the old adage, to sell anything valuable for a song, might find customers all over the Fair; and there were innumerable messes of pottage, piping hot, for such as chose to buy them with their birthrights. A few articles, however, could not be found genuine at Vanity Fair. If a customer wished to renew his stock of youth, the dealers offered him a set of false teeth and an auburn wig; if he demanded peace of mind, they recommended opium or a brandy-bottle.

Tracts of land and golden mansions, situate in the Celestial City, were often exchanged, at very disadvantageous rates, for a few years' lease of small, dismal, inconvenient tenements in Vanity Fair. Prince Beelzebub himself took great interest in this sort of traffic, and sometimes condescended to meddle with smaller matters. I once had the pleasure to see him bargaining with a miser for his soul, which, after much ingenious skirmishing on both sides, his Highness succeeded in obtaining at about the value of sixpence. The prince remarked, with a smile, that he was a loser by the transaction.

Day after day, as I walked the streets of Vanity, my manners and deportment became more and more like those of the inhabitants. The place began to seem like home; the idea of pursuing my travels to the Celestial City was almost obliterated from my mind. I was reminded of it, however, by the sight of the same pair of simple pilgrims at whom we had laughed so heartily, when Apollyon puffed smoke and steam into their faces, at the commencement of our journey. There they stood amid the densest bustle of Vanity--the dealers offering them their purple, and fine linen, and jewels; the men of wit and humor gibing at them; a pair of buxom ladies ogling them askance; while the benevolent Mr. Smooth-it-away whispered some of his wisdom at their elbows, and pointed to a newly-erected temple,--but there were these worthy simpletons, making the scene look wild and monstrous, merely by their sturdy repudiation of all part in its business or pleasures.

One of them--his name was--perceived in my face, I suppose, a species of sympathy and almost admiration, which, to my own great surprise, I could not help feeling for this pragmatic couple. It prompted him to address me.

"Sir," inquired he, with a sad, yet mild and kindly voice, "do you call yourself a pilgrim?"

"Yes," I replied, "my right to that appellation is indubitable. I am merely a sojourner here in Vanity Fair, being bound to the Celestial City by the new railroad."

"Alas, friend," rejoined Mr. Stick-to-the-right, "I do assure you, and beseech you to receive the truth of my words, that that whole concern is a bubble. You may travel on it all your lifetime, were you to live thousands of years, and yet never get beyond the limits of Vanity Fair! Yea; though you should deem yourself entering the gates of the Blessed City, it will be nothing but a miserable delu- sion."

"The Lord of the Celestial City," began the other pilgrim, whose name was Mr. Foot-it-to-Heaven, "has refused, and will ever refuse, to grant an act of incorporation for this railroad; and unless that be obtained, no passenger can ever hope to enter his dominions. Wherefore, every man, who buys a ticket, must lay his account with losing the purchase-money--which is the value of his own soul."

"Poh, nonsense!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, taking my arm and leading me off, "these fellows ought to be indicted for a libel. If the law stood as it once did in Vanity Fair, we should see them grinning through the iron bars of the prison window."

This incident made a considerable impression on my mind, and contributed with other circumstances to indispose me to a permanent residence in the city of Vanity; although, of course, I was not simple enough to give up my original plan of gliding along easily and commodiously by railroad. Still, I grew anxious to be gone. There was one strange thing that troubled me; amid the occupations or amusements of the fair, nothing was more common than for a person--whether at a feast, theatre, or church, or trafficking for wealth and honors, or whatever he might be doing, and however unseasonable the interruption--suddenly to vanish like a soap-bubble, and be never more seen of his fellows; and so accustomed were the latter to such little accidents, that they went on with their business, as quietly as if nothing had happened. But it was otherwise with me.

Finally, after a pretty long residence at the Fair, I resumed my journey towards the Celestial City, still with Mr. Smooth-it-away at my side. At a short distance beyond the suburbs of Vanity, we passed the ancient silver mine, of which Demas was the first discoverer, and which is now wrought to great advantage, supplying nearly all the coined currency of the world. A little further onward was the spot where Lot's wife had stood for ages, under the semblance of a pillar of salt. Curious travellers have long since carried it away piecemeal. Had all regrets been punished as rigorously as this poor dame's were, my yearning for the relinquished delights of Vanity Fair might have produced a similar change in my own corporeal substance, and left me a warning to future pilgrims.

The next remarkable object was a large edifice, constructed of moss grown stone, but in a modern and airy style of architecture. The engine came to a pause in its vicinity with the usual tremendous shriek.

"This was formerly the castle of the redoubted giant Despair," observed Mr. Smooth-it-away; "but, since his death, Mr. Flimsy-faith has repaired it, and now keeps an excellent house of entertainment here. It is one of our stopping-places."

"It seems but slightly put together," remarked I, looking at the frail, yet ponderous walls. "I do not envy Mr. Flimsy-faith his habitation. Some day it will thunder down upon the heads of the occupants."

"We shall escape, at all events," said Mr. Smooth-it-away; "for Apollyon is putting on the steam again."

The road now plunged into a gorge of the Delectable Mountains, and traversed the field where, in former ages, the blind men wandered and stumbled among the tombs. One of these ancient tomb-stones had been thrust across the track, by some malicious person, and gave the train of cars a terrible jolt. Far up the rugged side of a mountain, I perceived a rusty iron door, half overgrown with bushes and creeping plants, but with smoke issuing from its crevices.

"Is that," inquired I, "the very door in the hill-side, which the shepherds assured Christian was a by-way to Hell?"

"That was a joke on the part of the shepherds," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a smile. "It is neither more or less than the door of a cave, which they use as a smoke-house for the preparation of mutton hams."

My recollections of the journey are now, for a little space, dim and confused, inasmuch as a singular drowsiness here overcame me, owing to the fact that we were passing over the enchanted ground, the air of which encourages a disposition to sleep. I awoke, however, as soon as we crossed the borders of the pleasant land of Beulah. All the passengers were rubbing their eyes comparing watches, and congratulating one another on the prospect of arriving so seasonably at the journey's end. The sweet breezes of this happy clime came refreshingly to our nostrils; we beheld the glimmering gush of silver fountains, overhung by trees of beautiful foliage and delicious fruit, which were propagated by grafts from the celestial gardens. Once, as we dashed onward like a hurricane, there was a flutter of wings, and the bright appearance of an angel in the air speeding forth on some heavenly mission. The engine now announced the close vicinity of the final Station House, by one last and horrible scream, in which there seemed to be distinguishable every kind of wailing and woe, and bitter fierceness of wrath, all mixed up with the wild laughter of a devil or a madman. Throughout our journey, at every stopping place, Apollyon had exercised his ingenuity in screwing the most abominable sounds out of the whistle of the steam-engine; but in this closing effort he outdid himself, and created an infernal uproar, which, besides disturbing the peaceful inhabitants of Beulah, must have sent its discord even through the celestial gates.

While the horrid clamor was still ringing in our ears, we heard an exulting strain, as if a thousand instruments of music, with height, and depth, and sweetness in their tones, at once tender and triumphant, were struck in unison, to greet the approach of some illustrious hero, who had fought the good fight and won a glorious victory, and was come to lay aside his battered arms forever. Looking to ascertain what might be the occasion of this glad harmony, I perceived, on alighting from the cars, that a multitude of shining ones had assembled on the other side of the river, to welcome two poor pilgrims, who were just emerging from its depths. They were the same whom Apollyon and ourselves had persecuted with taunts and gibes, and scalding steam, at the commencement of our journey--the same whose unworldly aspect and impressive words had stirred my conscience, amid the wild revellers of Vanity Fair.


to be continued…
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continued from above…

"How amazingly well those men have got on!" cried I to Mr. Smooth-it-away. "I wish we were secure of as good a reception."

"Never fear--never fear!" answered my friend. "Come--make haste; the ferry-boat will be off directly; and in three minutes you will be on the other side of the river. No doubt you will find coaches to carry you up to the city gates."



A steam ferry-boat, the last improvement on this important route, lay at the river side, puffing, snorting, and emitting all those other disagreeable utterances, which betoken the departure to be immediate. I hurried on board with the rest of the passengers, most of whom were in great perturbation; some bawling out for their baggage; some tearing their hair and exclaiming that the boat would explode or sink; some already pale with the heaving of the stream; some gazing affrighted at the ugly aspect of the steersman; and some still dizzy with the slumberous influences of the Enchanted Ground. Looking back to the shore, I was amazed to discern Mr. Smooth-it-away waving his hand in token of farewell!

"Don't you go over to the Celestial City!" exclaimed I.

"Oh, no!" answered he with a queer smile, and that same disagreeable contortion of visage which I had remarked in the inhabitants of the Dark Valley. "Oh, no! I have come thus far only for the sake of your pleasant company. Good bye! We shall meet again "

And then did my excellent friend, Mr. Smooth-it-away, laugh outright; in the midst of which cachinnation, a smoke-wreath hissed from his mouth and nostrils, while a twinkle of lurid flame darted out of either eye, proving indubitably that his heart was all of red blaze. The impudent fiend! To deny the existence of Tophet, when he felt its fiery tortures raging within his breast! I flushed to the side of the boat, intending to fling myself on shore. But the wheels, as they began their revolutions, threw a dash of spray over me, so cold--so deadly cold, with the chill that will never leave those waters, until Death be drowned in his own river--that, with a shiver and a heart-quake, I awoke. Thank heaven, it was a Dream!


to be continued…
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continued from above

Scholar Thomas M. Brodhead writes that Ives’s music for The Celestial Railroad and the “Comedy” from the 4th Symphony both originate from a lost “Hawthorne Piano Concerto” (no manuscript sources survive). Here is what Brodhead proposes, based on his in-depth study of all the existing manuscript sources:

Ives composed a “Hawthorne Piano Concerto” between 1910 and 1913 as part of an effort to create a “Men of Literature” series and abandoned it in favor of composing a massive work for piano, the Concord Sonata. As part of this effort, music from the “Hawthorne Piano Concerto” was reworked as the “Hawthorne” movement of the sonata.

Around this same time, he conceived the idea of writing his Fourth Symphony—humankind seeking answers to the eternal questions. He realized that Hawthorne’s short story, “The Celestial Rail-road,” was an indictment of such seeking turned secular and easy, and so he adopted the “Hawthorne Piano Concerto” as the scherzo (second movement) of the symphony. In the early 1920’s, while deriving Four Transcriptions From “Emerson” from both the ‘Emerson” movement of the Concord Sonata and the “Emerson Overture,” Ives’s decided to derive a “Hawthorne Transcription” from both the “Hawthorne” movement of the Concord Sonata and the “Hawthorne Concerto” (the latter still functioning in his mind as the scherzo of the symphony). This new piano “Phantasy, “ The Celestial Railroad”, was not merely a piano reduction of the orchestral score, however, for Ives revised and developed the older materials to a great extent in the new composition. Once finished, the “Phantasy” proved better than its sources. Ives then discarded the “Hawthorne Concerto,” and the “Phantasy” was orchestrated to take its place in the symphony. The new symphonic movement became the focus of Ives’s attention from that point on…


Now, taking an in-depth look at the music of the second movement of the Concord Sonata, let us read another description of the “Hawthorne” movement from Ives himself:

The “Magical Frost Waves” on the Berkshire dawn window—to me the Hawthorne movement starts with that, first on the morning window pane, then on the meadow…then a boy lands on the stoop…and then he gets riding on the railroad—perhaps (but not every day) on the Celestial Railroad—then he jumps over the wall from Feathertop….Then all of a sudden he is in the old churchyard—he hears the solemn old hymn, the distant bells—his old friend greets him—he feels suddenly reverant in an honest boylike way….And then he gets hit and jumps back on the railroad train again and is off—he forgets the dead and dances on the Demon’s pipe bowl…with that rollicking scarecrow, so solemn and [the rest of Ives’s manuscript is lost]

Brodhead came up with a kind of outline for the “story” of this movement that works quite well as a listener’s guide. He based his conclusions on everything Ives wrote about the various sections of this music:

Phantasmagoria

The Celestial Railroad

Magical frost waves
--first on the windowpane
--then to the meadow

Riding on the train
Dancing with demons on Feathertop’s pipe rim
Jumping over the castle wall with feathertop

Nocturne

Scene at a churchyard

Distant bells, a solemn hymn, and a friendly ghost

Ragtime

The Celestial railroad

Back on the train
Dancing on the demon’s pipe bowl with the rollicking scarecrow
Back on the train

Contrasts

Scene at a churchyard

A brief stop
Back on the train
Back at the church
A circus band comes down main street

Ragtime

The Celestial railroad

Back on the train, doing the slave’s shuffle

Nocturne

Scene at a churchyard

A brief stop

Phantasmagoria

The Celestial Railroad

Back on the train
The ghost of a man who never lived




Next...the 3rd movement of the Concord Sonata...The Alcotts...
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III. The Alcotts


The Orchard House, home of the Alcotts

[from Essays...]

If the dictagraph had been perfected in Bronson Alcott's time, he
might now be a great writer. As it is, he goes down as Concord's
greatest talker. "Great expecter," says Thoreau; "great feller,"
says Sam Staples, "for talkin' big...but his daughters is the
gals though--always DOIN' somethin'." Old Man Alcott, however,
was usually "doin' somethin'" within. An internal grandiloquence
made him melodious without; an exuberant, irrepressible,
visionary absorbed with philosophy AS such; to him it was a kind
of transcendental business, the profits of which supported his
inner man rather than his family. Apparently his deep interest in
spiritual physics, rather than metaphysics, gave a kind of
hypnotic mellifluous effect to his voice when he sang his
oracles; a manner something of a cross between an inside pompous
self-assertion and an outside serious benevolence. But he was
sincere and kindly intentioned in his eagerness to extend what he
could of the better influence of the philosophic world as he saw
it. In fact, there is a strong didactic streak in both father and
daughter. Louisa May seldom misses a chance to bring out the
moral of a homely virtue. The power of repetition was to them a
natural means of illustration. It is said that the elder Alcott,
while teaching school, would frequently whip himself when the
scholars misbehaved, to show that the Divine Teacher-God-was
pained when his children of the earth were bad. Quite often the
boy next to the bad boy was punished, to show how sin involved
the guiltless. And Miss Alcott is fond of working her story
around, so that she can better rub in a moral precept--and the
moral sometimes browbeats the story. But with all the elder
Alcott's vehement, impracticable, visionary qualities, there was
a sturdiness and a courage--at least, we like to think so. A
Yankee boy who would cheerfully travel in those days, when
distances were long and unmotored, as far from Connecticut as the
Carolinas, earning his way by peddling, laying down his pack to
teach school when opportunity offered, must possess a basic
sturdiness. This was apparently not very evident when he got to
preaching his idealism. An incident in Alcott's life helps
confirm a theory--not a popular one--that men accustomed to
wander around in the visionary unknown are the quickest and
strongest when occasion requires ready action of the lower
virtues. It often appears that a contemplative mind is more
capable of action than an actively objective one. Dr. Emerson
says: "It is good to know that it has been recorded of Alcott,
the benign idealist, that when the Rev. Thomas Wentworth
Higginson, heading the rush on the U.S. Court House in Boston, to
rescue a fugitive slave, looked back for his following at the
court-room door, only the apostolic philosopher was there cane in
hand." So it seems that his idealism had some substantial
virtues, even if he couldn't make a living.



The Alcotts (3rd Move of the Concord Sonata)

(first page)


Whereas the Emerson movement is mostly masculine in nature...the Alcotts movement is more feminine and lyrical. Even the score looks peaceful and serene.

[From Essays...]

The daughter does not accept the father as a prototype--she seems
to have but few of her father's qualities "in female." She
supported the family and at the same time enriched the lives of a
large part of young America, starting off many little minds with
wholesome thoughts and many little hearts with wholesome
emotions. She leaves memory-word-pictures of healthy, New England
childhood days,--pictures which are turned to with affection by
middle-aged children,--pictures, that bear a sentiment, a leaven,
that middle-aged America needs nowadays more than we care to
admit.


The music for this piece started out as an overture for orchestra (for an orchestral Literature series that never got off the ground), now lost.

Again, we hear the strains of the Beethoven and Human Faith melody. Both are intertwined throughout...again, we hear how Ives radically changes the nature of a quoted source. The Beethoven motive, once a firey knock of fate at our door, is now a soft hymnal call, like a quiet autumn breeze on a Sunday morning. Unstead of Emerson thundering over his podium, we hear little Beth Alcott at her little spinet-piano inside her family's Orchard House:

[from Essays...]

Within the house, on every side, lie remembrances
of what imagination can do for the better amusement of fortunate
children who have to do for themselves-much-needed lessons in
these days of automatic, ready-made, easy entertainment which
deaden rather than stimulate the creative faculty. And there sits
the little old spinet-piano Sophia Thoreau gave to the Alcott
children, on which Beth played the old Scotch airs, and played at
the Fifth Symphony.


Next...the final movement of the Concord Sonata...Thoreau...
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IV. Thoreau



[from Essays...]

Thoreau was a great musician, not because he played the flute but
because he did not have to go to Boston to hear "the Symphony."
The rhythm of his prose, were there nothing else, would determine
his value as a composer. He was divinely conscious of the
enthusiasm of Nature, the emotion of her rhythms and the harmony
of her solitude. In this consciousness he sang of the submission
to Nature, the religion of contemplation, and the freedom of
simplicity--a philosophy distinguishing between the complexity of
Nature which teaches freedom, and the complexity of materialism
which teaches slavery. In music, in poetry, in all art, the truth
as one sees it must be given in terms which bear some proportion
to the inspiration. In their greatest moments the inspiration of
both Beethoven and Thoreau express profound truths and deep
sentiment, but the intimate passion of it, the storm and stress
of it, affected Beethoven in such a way that he could not but be
ever showing it and Thoreau that he could not easily expose it.


In this movement, the Human Faith melody reaches the edge of finality, or completeness...like a daydream almost fulfilled by an action in the waking state. Perhaps we glimpse Thoreau in Meditation at Walden Lake near his homemade cabin...communing with nature and the Divine and marveling on the interconnectedness of the apparent separation usually percieved between the two.

You may notice how similiar this movement is with Ives's song "Thoreau."

Scholar Emily Gaefe writes:

By living according to nature and adjusting to its environment, Thoreau tried to explain to his audience that one can live an honest life away from the material trappings of society. By not conforming to the social institutions, Thoreau relished nature as the ideal companion… Nature allowed him to focus on the permanence of life, and from that point he could reach transcendence. For him, appreciating the natural world is an extension of appreciating the self. Man must escape the trappings of society, and he can start this journey turning to nature in order to examine the self. An idealized role of nature and the life it provided is captured throughout the narrative. By doing so, Thoreau romanticized New England’s agrarian past, just as other Transcendentalists had done. Nature, as treated by Ives, serves many functions. Sometimes it is a vehicle for enlightenment and a place where the individual has the freedom to be himself and journey towards understanding. At other times, it is a symbol for the modern ills of the world…

When discussing nature in Ives’ songs, “Thoreau” (Song 48 in 114 Songs) must be looked to for its significance on the composer because this is the second time Ives set the subject matter. The version presented in the 114 Songs is taken from the “Thoreau” movement of the Concord Sonata. The accompanying chapter from Essays Before a Sonata gives insight into Ives’ view on Thoreau and the stress he places on this Transcendentalist’s relationship to nature.


Walden Pond

In the Essays, Ives presents a conventional distillation of Thoreau’s thoughts, mostly found in Walden, regarding the inspiration that nature provided. Thoreau was shown as being in tune with nature and the lessons she could teach. Despite the brevity of the lyrics, in Song 48 Ives manages to hit on three basic points that are gleaned from a day in nature: growth, reverie in nature, and solitude. The lyrics read:

He grew in those seasons like corn in the night,rapt in revery, on the Walden shore, amidst the sumach, pines and hickories, in undisturbed solitude.

The thought of growing in the cool evening, the awe of massive trees, and the quiet of nature that allows one to contemplate this grandeur is inspiring. This great inspiration does not seem to have touched Ives in his own compositions, although one can sense how Ives seems to have found a kindred spirit, given Ives’ accuracy of setting the mood of a solemn contemplation of nature.


The Human Faith melody, in a basic form (the melody always wants to descend before ascending):



This basic motive is eventually translated to an almost perfect union with the Beethoven motive. In the score, Ives includes a second option...the performer can duet with a flute (Thoreau played the flute) to play the defining moment in the work:



[from Essays...]

He remains in this mood and while outwardly still, he seems to move with the slow, almost monotonous swaying beat of this autumnal day. He is more contented with a "homely burden" and is more assured of "the broad margin to his life; he sits in his sunny doorway...rapt in revery...amidst goldenrod, sandcherry, and sumac...in undisturbed solitude."

At times the more definite personal strivings for the ideal freedom, the former more active speculations come over him, as if he would trace a certain intensity even in his submission. "He grew in those seasons like corn in the night and they were better than any works of the hands. They were not time subtracted from his life but so much over and above the usual allowance." "He realized what the Orientals meant by contemplation and forsaking of works." "The day advanced as if to light some work of his--it was morning and lo! now it is evening and nothing memorable is accomplished..." "The evening train has gone by," and "all the restless world with it. The fishes in the pond no longer feel its rumbling and he is
more alone than ever..."

His meditations are interrupted only by the faint sound of the Concord bell--'tis prayer-meeting night in the village--"a melody as it were, imported into the wilderness..." "At a distance over the woods the sound acquires a
certain vibratory hum as if the pine needles in the horizon were the strings of a harp which it swept...A vibration of the universal lyre...Just as the intervening atmosphere makes a distant ridge of earth interesting to the eyes by the azure tint it imparts."...

Part of the echo may be "the voice of the wood; the same trivial words and notes sung by the wood nymph." It is darker, the poet's flute is heard out over the pond and Walden hears the swan song of that "Day" and faintly echoes...Is it a transcendental tune of Concord? 'Tis an evening when the "whole body is one sense,"...and before ending his day he looks out over the clear, crystalline water of the pond and catches a glimpse of
the shadow--thought he saw in the morning's mist and haze--he knows that by his final submission, he possesses the "Freedom of the Night." He goes up the "pleasant hillside of pines, hickories," and moonlight to his cabin, "with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself."


In conclusion, Jan Swafford writes:

The outer movements of the Concord are set in nature--the Emersonian mountaintops at the beginning, Thoreau's intimate woodlands at the end--and so America's two greatest visionaries of nature frame this work of strange liberties and deep import. In between we find in Hawthorne a phantasmagoria on the life of towns, of human societies, and in The Alcotts the society of home and family. The image of Concord, like Danbury a town both real and mythical, a symbol of eternal community and human aspiration, enfolds the four movements.

I have lived with the Concord for a long time it seems, and I feel it's Ives's greatest achievement and concept. If you ever go camping or stay out in the woods, bring this piece with you...the score and the music if you can. I learned alot about music just by following the Concord score while listening to a recording. I discovered art was more than a material thing to look or listen too and etc. Today I don't usually listen as much as I used too. It's so ingrained in the heart that I'm satisfied just by thinking of Ives's music...I feel that close. I love that man. He's almost closer to me than family.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:03 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Next...The 4th Symphony...stay tuned Cool
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:44 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

By the way...check out Bob Swift giving the best performance of Ives's Variations On America (for Organ) I have ever heard...it truly is stunning...he doesn't play the whole work, but man it sure is good:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZCNDhlAW4o&mode=related&search=
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Symphony No.4

I. Prelude: Maestoso
II. Allegretto
III. Fugue: Andante moderato
IV. Very slowly - Largo maestoso



Now we arrive at Ives’ famous 4th Symphony, his greatest orchestral conception.

That’s begin with composer Bernard Herrmann (in 1937):

The Fourth Symphony, in the writer's opinion, one of the greatest symphonies ever penned. It is the great American symphony that our critics and conductors have cried out for, and yet the symphony has remained unperformed except for an excerpt played at the Pro Musica some years ago. The prelude is derived from the silence of a Sabbath hour when the soul, beset and weary of earthly vexations, turns toward the infinite with questions of the ultimate meaning of existence. The succeeding movements are the diverse answers. The fugue is an expression of the reaction of life into formalism and ritualism. The scherzo, in which the easy, and the worldly, progress through life with the trials of the Pilgrims in their journey through the swamps and the country. The finale is an apotheosis of the preceding content in terms that have to do with the reality of existence and its religious experience.

"The strains of one man may fall far below those Phaetons of Concord or of the Aegean Sea, or of Westmoreland--but the greater the distance his music falls away, the more reason that some greater man shall bring his nearer those higher spheres."

This is the expression of a man who approached art with humility.

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas also shares his thoughts in an interview:

...The Fourth is meant to answer a question. And the question is, "What is the meaning of existence?" Right at the front of the piece there is a bold and craggy theme in the double basses and the piano, quite aggressive, which is the most lengthy bit of original musical material in the symphony; and this question thunders out very defiantly--"What is the meaning of existence?" Or perhaps, as Whitman or Ruggles or even Ives himself might have said, "What the hell is all of this supposed to mean, anyway?" And then comes a series of answers.

In the first movement, just after the main theme is introduced, you have a group which Ives called the 'Star of Bethlehem.' ...And this is a group of musicians, violins and harps who are meant to play someplace suspended above the stage. They play the first hymn tune in the piece, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," which is, as you probably know, the hymn tune that the musicians on the Titanic were playing when they went down. A hymn of great significance because of its words: "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer, nearer to Thee, still all my soul shall be, nearer to my God to Thee." It's almost a mantra-like repetition of the Transcendentalist's ideal, to be nearer, to be at one with God...

The second movement offers another answer to the meaning of existence. "Well, it is all things as they appear to be." The second movement is saying that this is Maya, the material world. It is also the movement that Ives called a comedy, in the sense that some Hawthorne pieces, grotesque crowd-scene pieces, were identified as being comedy pieces. And it makes reference to everything that's happening in America, particularly the onslaught of mechanization, the noisy aspect of modern civilization. ...It's a parody of the hustle and bustle and overkill of noise in modern society, and a parody of the sort of music that's played at ladies' teas, when they have pink lemonade and listen to salon music. The salon music is made out of a hymn tune called "Beulah Land;" it's a very Mahler-like shape, but preposterously harmonized and so over the top.

Instruments at the back of the orchestra, which Ives calls shadow instruments, continue to play in their odd meandering way, having nothing to do with the shape of the hymn tune in the foreground. It's just a big stewpot of everything in musical society at that time. ...The attitude [Ives] has toward all of this music is, well, it's just part of the human comedy. Sometimes it's rough, sometimes it's sentimental, sometimes it's mysterious, but it's all just something that's making a great to-do over nothing. ...Then in a moment, it's all blown away. It's as if the wind comes through and there's nothing left but a few violas desperately trying to play some rapid sixteenth notes that tail off to nothing....

The third movement takes up the answer of Congregationalism...[Ives] felt that there were important benefits to be obtained by going to an event where other people met together for the purposes of worship and contemplation ...The third movement is based on a hymn tune called "From Greenland's Icy Mountains." It is a fugue, and it is meant to go at a rather vigorous pace....

[In the fourth movement] Ives introduces a new group--the percussion ensemble, which represents the ticking of the universal clock. I have only recently had the chance to perform this piece with a truly subterranean percussion ensemble in San Francisco. ...It makes a tremendous difference. It is so remarkable that this man imagined these things and knew exactly what he was talking about. When you read the instructions in the score which say a "subterranean percussion ensemble," it sounds totally absurd. But if you actually do it, set it up so they can play in a space that would normally be given over to the pit beneath the stage, it sounds fantastic. So this ensemble begins playing this odd, rhythmic pattern which suggests the ticking of the universal clock. The theme is the same, the question of human existence. And this time the answer is a sort of procession, a mournful procession, the tune of which is one of Ives' most masterful combinations of several phrases from several different sources, melded together. It is an expressive and sad melody. And what an ensemble it is--the violins of the Star of Bethlehem group play along with one solo violin on stage and gradually more violins join in. ..."Nearer, My God to Thee" is brought in, with dark and tragic harmonization over a bass line which is at first that of processional, and then becomes increasingly more desperate, lashing and flailing away at these harmonic turns. The large forces of the orchestra--brass, winds, and percussion--come in, bringing various phrases to a glittering, obliterating climax, and then they disappear-one of Ives' favorite effects. This huge sound suddenly clears, and leaves the sound of the violin and quarter tone pianos far off in the distance playing a beautiful quarter tone harmonization of "Nearer, My God, to Thee."

It's these kinds of contrasts which shape the movement, leading to the biggest of climaxes where "Nearer, My God, to Thee" in the massed low brass is pitted against the swirling original combination hymn tune in the upper orchestra. And just at the moment when the happy ending should occur, it turns round this corner and into an absolutely Calvary-like passage, where sounds occur like souls being borne down through great travail by the immense power of the orchestra. ...It's typical for Ives to represent this most exalted moment of spiritual search in ever more dissonant and blaring sound. ...This to me has always suggested the Mount Sinai aspect of spiritual revelation. Man searches and searches as he gets too close to the divine it is more than he can bear, the sounds and the harmonies are just too much. This is exactly what happens in Ives' Fourth Symphony. It builds to such a point of intensity that it's as if we can bear no more, and it sweeps away. We have to turn away and a few little tendrils of singed nerve endings then lead to the beginnings of the long, luminous coda. The choir brings back, wordlessly, the last phrase of "Nearer, My God, to Thee"--"Still all my songs shall be nearer, my God, to Thee."...As the chorus reaches its last phrase we come to the raison d'être for this Symphony. In the original hymn tune, "Nearer, My God, to Thee," the chorus sang the raised seventh degree of the scale-C sharp. But the very last time Ives uses the tune in the symphony, he lowers the seventh degree to the scale of C natural. So now "Nearer to Thee" is a modal cadence rather than a diatonic cadence. By doing that, he takes this hymn from a small Congregational church in New England and changes it into concord with ancient music, with Asian music, with all the musical traditions of the world. And then, with all of this layering of tunes going on, the procession slowly retreats. It's as if all of the people on earth are singing, and then the planet itself, with all of its inhabitants singing, passes further away on its orbit, out of our view....

This, to me, is what is so extraordinary in Ives imagination: all the aspects of this piece--the Star of Bethlehem; the percussion ensembles; the quarter tones; the mixed wind ensembles playing in different meters and different rhythms; the different spatial representations of music within the orchestra; the incredible use of dynamics to suggest the shifting of the winds and changes of psychological concentration; the extraordinary complexity of the layering, the textures; the complex reharmonization of familiar tunes in ever new ways; the whole vastness of the expression. And the whole symphony is really about one thing, which is "Nearer, My God, to Thee."...To search for this closeness to God, and in searching for it discover that one's expression of it changes from being a comfortable little thing you know at home to something that does indeed connect with the great universal search of mankind. And Ives is able to focus all this simply by changing one note of the cadence of this familiar tune....



The 4th Symphony is an amazing journey that anyone can identify with. The outer movements appear to reach beyond space and time, beyond the physical state of perception into the world of mind (in the first movement) and the state above mind (in the final movement). The middle two movements are based on the experience on earth. The second movement “comedy” suggests the chaos and unpredictably of earth-life, and the third movement fugue reveals the beauty of stability and ritual. As Herrmann and Thomas mention above, the last three movements could be “answers” to a “question” posed in the short first movement. In my view, every movement is a kind of meditation on every possible experience; the mind (and it’s questioning nature), bodily-based experience, the nurturing comfort from “ritualized” or “patterned” existence for the health of mind and body, and finally the experience beyond mind and body (and beyond thought and form all together).

The musical discourse, throughout the complete work, is never heard the same way twice. The complexity of the writing is one reason, but the orchestration is probably the actual cause of this phenomenon. Ives really pulls out all the stops in terms of soundscape-effects, creating an ambient-atmosphere of wonder and surprise. The whole work doesn’t last that long, only an half hour or so, but it’s discourse is far reaching, and satisfying as a musical, conceptual and spiritual experience.

to be continued...
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Nick



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:00 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Leo K wrote:
Interlude...

Here I go into a little rambling...

One time I traveled to Aspen, Colorado to attend the famous Aspen
Music Festival. My main objective was to hear Das Lied Von Der Erde
by Mahler (I was able to attend rehearsals). I brought Swafford's
bio on Ives with me to read before concerts. On one occasion this
nice student, named Wynonna, saw the book and laughed and said they
were just talking about Ives during a Beethoven rehearsal. Wynonna
was conducting the Beethoven 4th and somehow a group of her players
was playing another tune at the same time, and someone said it
sounded like Ives.

One time my music theory professor, Kevin Dobbe, took out the score
to the 2nd movement of Ives's Three Places in New England and had me
follow the score with him while blasting the stereo at top volume.
We were both awed at the metric complexity and my professor's
running commentary was illuminating. He was like a kid opening up a
christmas present. Another student came in the room and said, "What
the hell is this? What are you doing?" Professor Dobbe is saying,
"Not now! Wait till this is over!" Dobbe would tell me Ives was also
a great mathmatician, and then he would grab some chalk and draw up
on the chalkboard how Ives would write with six or more different
time signatures at once and etc. If I had been a better student I
could've learnt more! But back then I was quite unfocused!


Leo, I'm sorry I haven't been thanking you enough for this and the Mahler thread. Even though I haven't kept up with the text and music I have been reading off and on. Passages like the above I enjoy reading very much--thanks!
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