Sunday, August 29, 2004

Having a Bernstein Moment

Chichester Psalms, 4th Movement
128 kbps, 7.4 mb, 8.13 minutes

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
First performed, 1965

Choral Society of Greensboro/Greensboro Symphony Orchestra
May 2001
Stuart Molina, conducting
Referring page

"Of time to think as a pure musician
and ponder the art of composition.
for hours on end I brooded and mused
on materiae musicae, used and abused;
On aspects of unconventionality,
Over the death in our time of tonality,
Over the fads of Dada and Chance,
The serial strictures, the dearth of romance,
"Perspective in Music" the new terminology,
Pieces called "Cycles" and "Sines" and "Parameters" --
Titles too beat for these homely tetrameters;
Pieces for nattering, clucking sopranos
With squadrons of vibraphones, fleets of pianos
played with the forearms, the fists and palms
-- And then I came up with the Chichester Psalms.
These psalms are a simple and modest affair,
Tonal and tuneful and somewhat square
Certain to sicken a stour John Cager
With its tonics and triads and E flat major.
But there it stands the result of my pondering,
Two long months of avant-garde wandering -
My youngest child, old-fashioned and sweet.
And he stands on his own two tonal feet."

-- Leonard Bernstein, October 1965 (New York Times)

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