Archive for November, 2015

Ives, String Quartet No. 1, From the Salvation Army – A Revival Service

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Charles Ives, 1874-1954

String Quartet No. 1, From the Salvation Army – A Revival Service, 1897-1900

“The way to write American music is simple. All you have to do is be an American and then write any kind of music you wish.”
- Virgil Thomson

“One thing I am certain of is that, if I have done anything good in music, it was, first, because of my father, and second, because of my wife”
- Charles Ives

Charles IvesFor many music lovers, the name “Charles Ives” is apt to provoke one of two responses: Who is Charles Ives? or, Oh no, it’s Charles Ives! Both reactions inform a fruitful summary of Ives along with an insightful invitation to his truly marvelous String Quartet No 1. The life and music of Charles Ives makes a unique and fascinating tale with which Kens Burns could have a field day. Ives was as American as apple pie. Merely a decade after the death of Stephen Foster, Ives was born and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, from a well-established family, studied at Yale and eventually founded an insurance consulting and sales firm in New York that made him a considerably wealthy man. He retired in his mid-fifties and lived until he was seventy-nine, passing away in 1954, the year Elvis Presley made his first recordings. (more…)

John Harbison, String Quartet No. 2

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

John Harbison (1938)

String Quartet No. 2, 1987

John HarbisonJohn Harbison is one of the finest living American composers. Currently in his late seventies, his ample catalog is celebrated across nearly every genre including symphonies, operas, choral works and art songs, and a particularly impressive collection of chamber music. A wind quintet and a piano quintet feature prominently as well as a set of 5 string quartets displaying an astonishing range of style, expression and design. David St George writes a captivating summary, “Harbison has defined his artistic credo as an attempt ‘to make each piece different from the others, to find clear, fresh, large designs, to reinvent traditions’. His work is eclectic, ever open to fresh sources of development in the music of any style or period, and always rigorously self-disciplined. Reveling in ambiguities of all kinds, it reveals further levels of meaning upon repeated listening.” Harbison candidly identifies his key musical influences and inspirations dating from an early and indelible exposure: jazz, Bach Cantatas and Stravinsky. He is also one of the most eloquent and reflective composers and teachers highlighting his equally important love and study of literature, particularly poetry. (more…)