Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Survivor from Warsaw

In her listening journal on Arnold Schönberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Alicyn notes in her last paragraph that “while this seven-minute piece was not typical of Schönberg, it was a testament to his faith and family and to the thousands of people who lost their lives to genocide.” I think this is the most important observation anyone can make about this work. Schönberg’s music is often about the process and I find it to be especially telling that this work does not follow the usual pattern. The work concentrates on something that is so moving and so intimate that a listener realizes that Schönberg was unable to fit his emotions and feelings into the obvious pattern. This piece is an example of the power of music. Schönberg is speaking from the heart and communicates on a deeply personal level to those who have experienced devastating loss and those who are looking for reasons why events like the Holocaust happened.

Unlike many of my fellow students this listening journal, I am unfamiliar with the work and I did not find myself drawn to it. Listening to the piece for the first item without paying special attention to the narration, it did seem random. I particularly thought the orchestra was random. But then, I listened to the piece again with the narration available. Schönberg is ferocious in this piece. I suppose that is to be expected of Schönberg. He has never been afraid to be controversial but this is a different kind of ferocity. This is where I begin to expand on the opinion offered by Alicyn concerning this work. Yes, this is a testament to Schönberg’s faith, family, and those who were lost. However, this is also a condemnation of those who perpetuated the atrocities of the Holocaust. Listening to the text, Schönberg is angry and rightfully so. This is a fierce expression of emotion at the failure of humanity. This is why I feel this piece needs to be included in the Western canon. This is an expression of emotion is its purest state from a master of composition and twentieth century musical innovation.

By mentioning innovation, we come to my feelings on Schönberg. I do not care for his music. Perhaps it is plebian of me, but I enjoy music that I can connect with on a less intellectual level. Attending a concert should not give me a headache. I can accomplish the later state of being quite well on my own, thank you. Of course, this view has little to do with innovation. I am sure I am not alone in finding Schönberg difficult to listen to. However, you must respect the innovation and the influence that Schönberg has had on Western music. There are only a handful of people who have influenced an art form in the way Schönberg has influenced music and for that, the musician must give the devil his due. Arnold Schönberg is a figure towering over twentieth century music and an undeniable addition to the Western canon of music.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Like the marauding conquerors from the days of yore, John Oswald loots and pillages indiscriminately from popular song, creating Plunderphonics. In his work, Oswald takes a “plunderphone,” or the smallest familiar fragment of a popular song, a “recognizable sonic quote,”[1] and changes the way people listen to that fragment. He adds drum tracks, chops the song up into pieces or plays a song with another track in the background, sometimes all at once. Still, the plunderphone is recognizable throughout. Western composition is based on continual rearrangement of the scale and Oswald has taken that to the extreme. Oswald’s reorganization is his composition, challenging the idea of composition as the trained musician knows it. Rather than compose from single notes in a scale or key, Oswald uses chunks of existing pop music as if they were those notes. Plunderphonics subverts expectations and questions how far you can take the use of music. Oswald demands that the audience thinks about and listens to songs in an entirely new way, and completely changes the intentions and even image of the original artist.

The most stunning example of an Oswald’s shifting of expectations is his reworking of “The Great Pretender.” Originally recorded by the early rock and roll group The Platters, this classic song has been covered by various artists like Freddie Mercury, Sam Cooke, The Band, and country icon Dolly Parton. In this last entertainer, Oswald finds his muse for the song he titles “Pretender.” The name Dolly Parton conjures up many images and thoughts and I am willing to bet a great deal of money that neither the images or thoughts are subtle. Probably, these images have something to do with big hair, twang, and an extremely exaggerated hourglass figure. This familiar version of Dolly Parton is how “Pretender” begins, but the singer revealed at the end of the song is someone entirely different. Oswald applies a deaccelerando to Dolly’s original track revealing a handsome tenor voice a fourth below Dolly’s original vocals. By suggesting this different aspect of Dolly Parton, Oswald looks at gender expectations and asks how much of what the audience sees and hears is actually true. Someone asked to listen to these two tracks would pick the lower voice as the more natural sounding, begetting the question, who is the real Dolly Parton? Is Dolly Parton the woman she appears to be or is “she” actually a he who has conned the world into believing he is a buxom woman with a chipmunked version of his original voice? This sample has been aptly described as a “sonic sex change.”[2] Oswald challenges gender ideas and the preconceived labels the listener already has, and asks the audience to look at an existing popular artist and idea from a new direction.

John Oswald is completely open about his use of existing recordings of popular entertainers in his Plunderphonics. When his work is based on a song by Elvis Presley, the track he samples in undeniably Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, this is where the art of Plunderphonics runs into a problem. Whereas frequently used musical ideas like the “Dies Irae” are free game, copyrighted works are another story entirely. As is seen in “Pretender,” Oswald alters the fundamental image of a performer. This is famously a point of contention for entertainers whose music has been used and reworked, with the most famous example being Michael Jackson’s strenuous objection to the use of his song, “Bad.” If On the Plunderphponics website, one website heading is an explanation of the litigation that makes several Plunderphonics discs unavailable for purchase. Despite this, Oswald stays true to his commitment to sharing music openly without profit, using the phrase “You may have it but you may not buy it or sell it”[3] in reference to Plunderphonics. John Oswald pairs his unusual way of looking at the sampling of music with his unusual view of music distribution. His work is for those who want to listen to it and explore someone else’s view and reworking of previously recorded music, regardless of prior claims of ownership.

I am not sure that Plunderphonics needs to be added to the canon. I do think that people need to be aware of its existence, if only for the album cover art (which is mind-boggling). Personally, I enjoyed the puzzle aspect of Plunderphonics. The puzzle aspect involves trying to identify that song snippet that you know you know, but you just do not know right now. I also enjoyed how Oswald uses an anagram for everyone’s name, although the ones I have not figured out yet are driving me crazy. Despite the personal enjoyment I derive from Plunderphonics, I would probably not include them in the canon. The main argument against Plunderphonics for me is the recreation of these pieces, which is next to impossible. From a performers’ standpoint, Plunderphonics are problematic. There is little that translates to live performance, leaving a performer to essentially push the play button on the CD. With the inability to connect with a live audience on another level, Plunderphonics takes on the role of another track downloaded from the internet.

[1] Kevin Holm-Hudson, “Quotation and Context: Sampling and John Oswald’s Punderphonics,” Leonardo Music Journal vol. 7, (1997); 21.
[2] Jim Leach, “Sampling and Society: Intellectual Infringement and Digital Folk Music in John Oswald’s Plunderphonics,” in The arts, community, and cultural democracy, ed. Lambert Zuidervaart, Henry Luttikhuizen (New York: Palgrove Macmillan, 2000), 123.
[3] Plunderphonics, “Unavailable…but,” Plunderphonics, (accessed April 20, 2009).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Musically, the nation of Mexico offers many enriching ideas, from daring tonalities to new percussion instruments like those seen in Carlos Chávez’s piece Xochipilli. Carlos Chávez is known as one of Mexico’s most famous composers and helped establish the identity of Mexican classical music during the turn of the century. In his listening response to the early chamber works of Chávez, Nick Baker mentions the commissions Chávez received that served to promote Mexican nationalism. Mr. Baker first offers the idea of nationalism in Chávez’s music, but then takes his characterization further. He categorizes Chávez as Universalist, explaining this idea as music beyond nationalism and European traditions. While Mr. Baker’s observations are well thought out and well-informed, the idea of Chávez’s music as beyond nationalism and European ideas is somewhat incomprehensible. I do not see this piece as beyond European music as there are definite elements of Western genres and forms like the fugue. It is also impossible to see Xochipilli as beyond nationalism, as nationalism could be construed as the defining feature of the piece. From Chávez’s use of native percussion to the choice of subject matter, the work is supremely Mexican. It is also useful, when classifying the work as Universalist, to consider what the early twentieth century listener would have thought of this work. In the context of previously available music at that, even a knowledgeable audience member would see this work as something out of the ordinary.

Despite its unique and perhaps otherworldly qualities, Xochipilli does carry some of the familiarities of European composition. The first movement, Allegro Animato, reveals a distinctly familiar shape as it progresses. While the piccolo melody bustles along, the first two percussion instruments enter one after another with the same material, creating a fugue beneath the primary material. There are also multiple examples of imitation throughout the entire piece. While the overall character and tonality of the piece has departed from European ideas, Chávez has not abandoned some of the forms and thoughts of previous generations.

Even with these compositional ideas in place, Chávez overwhelmingly concentrates on showcasing Mexican music and history. In his response, Mr. Baker visits on the extensive research of the history of Mexico and Aztec people that Carlos Chávez conducted while composing this piece. Mr. Baker mentions that the composer “recreated what he thought could be the sounds of an Aztec festival or ritual.” An excellent indicator of that in the actual music is Chávez’s use of angular scales and melodies in all of the parts, even the percussion. It is not very difficult to picture an Aztec temple when listening to the opening melody in the piccolo or the primitive rhythms in the percussion. Mr. Baker uses the phrase “ritualistically repetitive,” which I think is a wonderful way to evoke both the character of Chávez’s music and the history that inspired it. Although the influence of Pre-Columbian art and architecture is also present in this piece, Chávez chose to concentrate more specifically on the Aztec tribe. This much is apparent from the title alone, as Xochipilli was the Aztec god of song (among other things). Here, the phrase “ritualistically repetitive” becomes especially evocative as the Aztecs were known for their custom of sacrificing those they conquered.

From the culture that inspired this piece, to the shifting scales and tonalities, and to the varied instrumentation, the music of Carlos Chávez is original and engaging to today’s listener. To a listener from the 1940s, the music would be no less engaging, although they would surely find Chávez’s composition to be quite exotic. Carlos Chávez was someone who approached composition from a different perspective and painstakingly researched that which he found inspiring and worthy of his compositional skills. As Mr. Baker notes in his response to these works, “Chávez created a style that was inspired by things that came before him but that was all his own.” I think that is an excellent way to look at the uniqueness and charisma that Carlos Chávez brought from Mexico to the world of classical music.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It is impossible to separate the music of Zoltán Kodály from its Hungarian roots. Along with Franz Liszt and Béla Bartók, Kodály is one of the most visible musicians to come out of Hungary. Unlike Lizst, whose life was removed from Hungarian culture, Kodály took his experiences growing up in the Hungarian countryside and translated them to his music. Born to amateur musicians in the Hungarian city of Kecskemét in December 1882, Kodály began his musical studies at an early age. From his father he learned to play violin, and he gained his first exposure to the folk songs that would comprise much of his life’s work as a mere elementary school child. In 1905, Kodály came in contact with another Hungarian musician who shared his fascination for folk song; Béla Bartók. These two men were lifelong friends and supported each other in their artistic endeavors. While critics considered Kodaly an imitation of Bartók, Bartók himself was unstinting in his praise and support of Kodály’s composition.[i] Meeting Bartók was one of the defining moments in Kodály’s career and profoundly affected the rest of his life as a musician. Many of the folk songs he collected during his collaborations with Bartok showed in his compositional works.

Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus for tenor, chorus and orchestra is just such a work. Prior to the world premiere of the piece in 1923, the composer had not experienced much public success. This was due in large part to the events of World War I and the political unrest that Hungary was experiencing. Psalmus Hungaricus appeared out of this turbulence and could be seen as the composer’s response to the upheaval Hungary and the world was experiencing. The text of this work is taken from Psalm 55, which is a fervent plea for divine justice and salvation from the Lord. The libretto is in Hungarian and the music follows, with lyrical melodies based in the character of Hungarian folk songs. The name Psalmus Hungaricus is eminently suitable, as Hungarian folk song pattern are always present in some form throughout the work.[ii] The pattern of the Hungarian folk song is most clear where Kodály is dealing with the text. There is a stronger accent on the beginnings of words and the composer also uses the arched moeldoy lines and longer phrases typical of traditional Hungarian music. This piece is classified as an oratorio and the text alone confirms that belief. It is roughly twenty-three minutes in length and each component of the work is allowed their moment to shine. Perhaps the tenor is given more material, but the orchestra and the chorus are also given lovely melodies and exciting passages.

I am very much in favor of this work. I find that I am drawn to folk music in classical composition and this piece is no exception. Upon listening to the work, I get a sense of vibrancy from the melody, the harmony and the colors of the orchestra Kodály uses. The opening of the oratorio is so dramatic with the huge chords from the brass and the escalating tension in the strings. He gets the listener to invest in the very beginning of the piece, but then he drastically scales back everything, leaving a single oboe. He continues this alternation and then brings in the chorus. They’re so hushed that they seem to be whispering. I love the way Kodály celebrates the quiet, beautiful, songlike moments, but is not afraid to give the orchestra free rein. He alternates the divine simplicity with the huge, bombastic orchestral colors, giving the listener a sense of tension and pulling them in with the excitement. Another interesting aspect of the piece is the different modes Kodály incorporates. One of the characteristics of traditional Hungarian music is the use of the pentatonic scale. This is something the listener hears in the Psalmus Hungaricus.

I would actually like to add this piece to the canon. There are several things to recommend it. I would first like to point out that it is an example of a 20th century Hungarian oratorio. While Bartók is an example of a marvelous Hungarian composer, I feel that Kodály offers another look at the sophisticated composition of this nation. Bartók’s music comes from a much more instrumental point of view, whereas Kodály is concerned primarily with writing vocal composition. Kodály also uses a more contained harmonic palette and focuses primarily on melody in his composition, as opposed to Bartók’s adventures in rhythm and harmony. Rather than pit these composers against one another, I feel allowing them each a place would be a fitting tribute to their talents as these men have indelibly enriched the fields of composition, musicology, and music education.[iii] Psalmus Hungaricus is also an excellent example of a 20th century oratorio, and is possibly the only oratorio written by a Hungarian composer. I would also like to include the work simply because it is so engaging and connects extraordinarily well with an audience.

[i] Marianne D. Birnbaum, “Bartók, Kodály and the Nyugat” ed. Gyorgy Ranki, Bartok and Kodaly Revisted (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1987) 61
[ii] Laszlo Vikar, “On the Folk Music Arrangements of Bartók and Kodály” ed. Gyorgy Ranki, Bartok and Kodaly Revisted (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1987) 105
[iii] Laszlo Vikar, “Along Kodály’s Path” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1983) 15

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Maria Szymanowska’s Nocturne in B-flat is a lovely and lyrical piece that melds the musical idioms of the Classical era with the emerging sensibilities of the Romantic period. The Nocturne exhibits the charm and delicate order found in Classical works at its beginning, but slowly relaxes into the more lush harmonies and textures of the Romantic style. It almost seems as if Szymanowska is welcoming in Romanticism, embracing and exploring the upcoming changes in the musical scenery. Upon listening to some of her work, it becomes clear why she has become more well-known and people acclaim her music. A listener finds much to gravitate towards in Szymanowska’s music, especially as her work slowly unfolds from a subtle and pretty to something passionate and more expansive.

Victoria makes a comparison between the works of Szymanowska and John Field, who she is often paired with due to the similarities in their style of composition. Victoria expresses a clear preference for the music of Szymanowska over the “comparatively dry in emotion” sonatas of John Field. While I agree that the musicality of a piece does owe something to the performer, I believe that Szymanowska’s composition is the main contributor to the musical ideas here. As one of the first piano virtuosos of the Romantic era, Szymanowska was undoubtedly composing to show the pianist of to the maximum advantage. The music she writes is filled with opportunities for the soloist to grab the attention of the audience and inspire them. Szymanowska made her living from her piano skills and writing music that showcased her talents would have been obvious for a seasoned performer. In a side speculation, the Nocturne was written in 1852. At that time, Szymanowska was permanently established in St. Petersburg, making one wonder if any of the emerging traditions of Russia were influences or inspirations.

Another point from Victoria’s journal that I would like to address is the issue of Robert Schumann’s comments on Szymanowska. Like Victoria, I accept the description of Szymanowska as the “feminine Field.” In light of the evidence identifying her as Field’s pupil, I consider the comment a valid statement on the style and influences evident in Szymanowska’s work. I am, however, having difficulties with the phrase “vacillating woman.” When one looks up the definition of vacillating in the dictionary, one finds that the word means to swing indecisively from one course of action or opinion to another. Listening to the Nocturne, the shifts in style are deliberate and the composer has a clear vision and point of view. The use of the word vacillating suggests that Schumann has taken the traditional view of women in the 19th century and used it to dismiss Szymanowska. When coupled with comment “if she only knew how,” the phrase ‘vacillating woman” feels like a cheap shot. I, however, will try to be understanding. When this piece was composed, Schumann was in the midst of a period of increased productivity and it is to be expected that he would have been distracted by his work and the continuously alternating musical and mental landscapes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Ornithological Combat of Kings?

Anthony Philip Heinrich is both an example and an exception of the stereotypical musician and composer from the Romantic period. Though Heinrich was an immigrant from Bohemia, he considered himself an American and was the first professional American composer as we understand the occupation. He was famous not only in the United States, but experienced acclaim on many of the orchestral tours he took to Europe. He exhibited many of the behaviors of the archetypical Romantic musician, from introducing Beethoven to the American public to composing highly programmatic works to closeting himself away in the wilds of Kentucky to celebrate nature[i], but he also departed from the standard with the sheer quirkiness shown in his music. In his composition for orchestra entitled The Ornithological Combat of Kings, these two sides of this composer come together in an amusing yet unexpected work.

The Ornithological Combat of Kings or The Condor of the Andes and The Eagle of the Cordilleras (Grand Symphony) is laid out in typical symphony fashion, beginning with a fast movement, followed by a slow movement, a minuet and a fast finale. The first movement, entitled “The Conflict of the Condor in the Air,” begins with a light and somewhat floating theme in the upper strings and woodwinds and quickly branches out to include the rest of the orchestra. Heinrich incorporates the different timbers of the orchestra well here, showing of the different colors of his ensemble. The music escalates in intensity, jumping back and forth between frolicking passages in the strings and upper woodwinds and brief fanfares in the brass, until it arrives at a more somber rendition of the beginning idea. After a brief swell, the conflict resolves and the movement ends quietly.

The second movement, “The Repose of the Condor,” is slow and begins, to my ears, with a slightly menacing and sustained melody in the lower strings. The piece continues in a similar fashion and midway through, the strings have a section that resembles a country dance. An element of folk music is present before Heinrich inserts a random snippet of composition that is much different in tempo, tone and style. After an extremely brief interlude there, he returns to the folk melody and closes out the movement with a flourish.

The third movement, “The Combat of the Condor,” opens with a bold dynamic and continues at slightly frenetic pace. The music a sense of urgency, and Heinrich has definitely upped the rhythmic intensity, building the momentum throughout. There is also a more extended use of the percussion than in previous movements. Although there are brief moments of respite, the movement carries on in a rousing manner until the triumphant conclusion.

The fourth movement, “Victory of the Condor,” starts out unobtrusively, subtlety mirroring the earlier dancelike style. It does however promise a bigger conclusion from that humble start, and Heinrich does not disappoint. The work steadily builds towards an exciting conclusion, even though it occasionally veers off to explore other ideas. However, Heinrich fools us after an exciting climax by ending the piece with a quiet duet of flutes over a pedal tone in the low strings.

There were elements of this I enjoyed, although I do not want to say I thoroughly liked the piece. There were moments where I was puzzled, and it sometimes felt like Heinrich just wrote something and then randomly inserted it in the piece. At the same time, there is a definite sense of the composer and with it a refreshing individuality that I have to respect. Heinrich was not much concerned with the way others perceived his music and concentrated on writing what appealed to him and presenting that to his audience. Considered by some to be the first American composer, Heinrich was very different from other early American composers like Stephen Foster. Whereas Foster’s music spoke to the American population, Heinrich was removed from the popular spotlight because of his elaborate music. He did not alter his style of composition, maintaining the complexity of his ideas even in popular song composition.[ii] I wasn’t completely sure what exactly Heinrich was trying communicate with this composition (despite the lengthy title and descriptions), but I did find myself engaged, particularly in the last movement. I responded to the urgency throughout, and I definitely had an increasing sense of excitement. Though the ending was not what I expected, I thought it was beautiful.

After listening to the work and learning a little about the history of Heinrich, I can understand why this work and the work of Heinrich in general is not a part of the canon. There is an element of randomness to the music that is somewhat beyond the parameters of Romantic music. As William Brooks notes in his contribution to the Cambridge History of American Music, “his music wanders freely through America’s collectively held landscapes en route to a destination that may little resemble the starting point.”[iii]Though there is the programmatic element to consider, the music is lacking in a cohesive element that keeps the absolute focus of the listener. If there were a written program explaining some of the more random flights of fancy, the listener would have something to guide them through the piece. Each movement has a specific title and I think a brief explanation of why would be extremely helpful. When I was trying to fit Heinrich into the Romantic canon, the name Carlo Gesualdo came to mind. I seem to remember someone describing Gesualdo as a kind of offshoot in the Renaissance canon. This description can also be used to describe Heinrich, who followed the beat of his own drum. His music is engaging and does exhibit characteristics of the Romantic era but also maintains a separate sense of identify and whimsy that is entirely Heinrich.
[i] Denise Von Glahn, The Sounds of Place; Music and the American Cultural Landscape (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2003) 269.
[ii] Richard Crawford, America’s Musical Life (New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000) 317-318
[iii] William Brooks, “Music in America: an overview (part 1)” in The Cambridge History of American Music, ed. David Nicholls (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998) 42-43

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When commenting on anything concerning August Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf, I must first mention how much I absolutely love his name. It reminds me of how much I would like to have a friend or acquaintance that answers to the name of Ditters. I share this information not to distract from any thoughts concerning his Sinfonia no. 1 in C major, “Die vier Weltalter” but to give the observations that follow some context. Anything composed by my dearest Dittersdorf is almost automatically regarded in a favorable light.

One of the features of the work that Ben Cross chooses to address in his response to Sinfonia No. 1 is the way Dittersdorf uses the source of his inspiration, Ovid's Metamorphoses, in each of his movements. Mr. Cross also makes an excellent point in noting that use of the work by the Roman poet Ovid catalogs the Sinfonia as a part of the classical period before one even begins to listen. Not being familiar with the work of Ovid in any form, it was interesting to investigate the work. It is interesting to note that in the Greek version of the Ages of Man myth by the poet Hesiod, there were five Ages of Man. In between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, there was a period referred to as the Heroic Age where Zeus formed a “nobler and more righteous people, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods…”[i] The idea of the Greek presentation of the Ages of Man versus the Roman presentation of that concept caught my attention and brought to mind a new query. In his post Mr. Cross ably relates each of the movements of the symphony with the ages they represent, leading one to briefly wonder what Dittersdorf would have done with another movement relating to the Heroic Age. I found Dittersdorf’s use of the trumpet and the timpani in the final movement depicting the Iron Age to be very effective and I wonder if the composer would have utilized some of the same techniques depicting the Heroic Age or if he would have found another way to convey the idea of the age to the listener.

The first movement of the piece is used to describe the Golden Age which is meant to represent a more peaceful time. I believe one of the phrases often in Mr. Cross’ post is “eternal spring.” Dittersdorf definitely showcases that idea, well with the opening sequences in the strings. One of the words that I think of while listening to this piece is pastoral. The movement is simple in style and does not feel overworked, which aids in creating a spring-like feeling. The second movement is representative of Ovid’s Silver Age, where the four seasons were created and structure came to man. While there are different characters that could be perceived as seasons present through the piece, particularly in the development, I had some difficulties positively identifying each of the seasons. I am left unsure as to whether Dittersdorf included all the seasons in the movement or choose to concentrate on a few that he felt would be justly represented. Upon a review of the actual poem, it is easy to see the correlation between the text and the manner is which Dittersdorf has composed the second movement where he represents first the combined warmth of summer and autumn with the quick exultations of the brass. This is then followed by the chill of winter and finishes with the renewal of life in spring.

The third movement speaks to the violence of the Bronze Age. Here man has learned to be cruel and is prone to erring on the side of bad judgment. With the skipping strings throughout, there is a sense of wicked mischief. The scale lines with crescendos in the winds that occasionally interject could allude to the escalation of immoral behavior in the period. In the Iron Age, evil has finally prevailed. In the Metamorphoses, Ovid describes in detail the malevolent misdeeds of the people. That is present here in Dittersdorf’s increased use of the brass and timpani and also the increasing urgency of the rhythms in the strings. It is interesting to note that in his poem, Ovid also mentions the good and pure parts of humanity such as truth and faith departing by sea for unknown areas. Dittersdorf cleverly considers this portion of the text with his more mellow interludes in the strings that suggest the themes of the previous, less tumultuous movements.

Overall, I liked the piece. I found the whole concept and interesting and I very much liked the way Dittersdorf presented and tried to communicate the text of the poem in a purely instrumental way. I responded to the lovely bucolic feeling of the first movement and I also enjoyed the noticeable use of the timpani in the fourth movement as it provided an important contrast and increased the dramatic tension. I felt that Mr. Cross’ review of the piece was well informed and well written. For those reasons, I would really like to hear more about what he thought of the piece. He does a good job of listening to and interpreting the piece but I would be curious to see if he had any kind of reaction to the piece that was not so objective.
[i] Hesiod, “Works and Days” available from