Copland's Organ Symphony

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Copland's Organ Symphony

Post by ratsrcute » Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:24 pm

I loved Copland when I was a child. (Still do..) Two things stand out. I remember getting a record of Symphony #3 and going nuts over the big brass sections of the first movement. Then a little later I heard his Symphony #1 which is an adaptation of his Organ Symphony for orchestra only.. heard it on KGUC in Cincinnati, taped it, and played that tape over and over. Now I live in LA and last season heard the LA Phil play the Organ Symphony with actual pipe organ. Then I picked up a recording of Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony playing the Organ Symphony.. absolutely fantastic.

I was playing that CD when I had a friend over, and mentioned it was Copland. She said "Copland? That doesn't sound like Copland." Yup, it is his earlier phase, not so well known, but that Organ Symphony has some astonishing 'tunes' in it. Not to mention fabulous structure and flow.

Okay, those are my thoughts for the day.


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Post by Brahms » Mon Oct 15, 2007 3:05 pm

I love this recording: Bernstein + E. Power Biggs + NYPO


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Post by piston » Mon Oct 15, 2007 5:07 pm

This young American speaks in the tongue of the ultra-moderns, and there were those effects in his work which now and then raised a smile among those of his auditors who have not progressed ... as far as he had."
At the conclusion of the [organ] symphony there was considerable applause and Mr. Damrosch pointed to an upper box, where the composer sat. The latter rose and bowed to renewed applause.... "Ladies and gentlemen," Damrosch said, "it seems evident that when the gifted young American who wrote this symphony can compose at the age of twenty-three, a work like this one" -- here he paused, and the audience waited for what it expected would be a proclamation of a new genius by the veteran conductor -- Mr. Damrosch smilingly continued:
"It seems evident that in five years more he will be ready to commit murder."
A loud laugh went through the audience and up in his box the young American laughed as loudly as the rest and applaude the sentiment.
Strange comment, seemingly not supportive of Copland's first symphony. This curious remark was made at the work's world premiere in NYC, with Nadia Boulanger at the organ. Copland had composed this work in a great hurry so that it would be ready for her when she arrived to perform it in America.

But the remark needs to be understood in a context wherein New Yorkers could easily become irritated by modern music, particularly when it involved women performers. A few days earlier, Ethel Leginska, "a pianist-turned-composer-and-conductor, had performed and conducted an entire New York Symphony program. The critics had been merciless, demolishing her performance, her conducting, and her compositional abilities, and the young woman promptly had a nervous breakdown. Damrosch was a canny musician, and would have been able to sense the mood of his audience. Rather than risk disaffecting his subscribers, he head to take the first opportunity to defuse their hostility to waht some obviously felt was yet another assault on their ears. His ploy succeeded. But to a young, ambitious composer like Copland, such an incident must have been unpalatable...."

By the way, I like this Copland first symphony very much but it is nevertheless significant that he composed it under great time pressure and was apprehensive about composing for the organ.

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Post by Harold Tucker » Mon Oct 15, 2007 5:07 pm

You have been on the west coast too long. In Cincinnati we have a WGUC. I believe that Pittsburgh has the only K station east of the Mississippi.

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Post by Donaldopato » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:27 pm

Philadelphia has or at least had KYW radio when I lived there in the 80's.

I never knew the Copland Organ Symphony was also the Symphony # 1 without organ. I have only heard the organ version. Is there an available recording of the organ-less Symphony # 1?
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

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Post by wd444 » Wed Oct 17, 2007 12:49 pm

I have a picture of the Organ in the Walt Disney Concert Hall hanging on my desk. It is really neat looking like matchsticks all together. It must
have been great to see that played and hear the Copland there.
I heard the Copland here in Philly at Verizon Hall and it was good. However the placement of the organ and this cone fixture that is raised and lowered for orchestra performances blocks the view and sound from the organ. They really need to take that cone out.

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