Today is Earth Day—an annual event started in 1970 by then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-in.
Senator Nelson wasn’t the only one concerned back then, either: the Czech-born composer Karel Husa had noticed dead fish floating on a lake located near a power plant. “The plant was producing hot thermal pollution which in turn killed all those fish,” Husa recalled. “In addition, I noticed more beer cans in the water and algae in greater quantities.”
A wind band commission provided Husa with an opportunity to create a work he called “Apotheosis of This Earth.” In explaining its title, Husa wrote:
“Man’s brutal possession and misuse of nature’s beauty—if continued at today’s reckless speed—can only lead to catastrophe. The composer hopes that the destruction of this beautiful earth can be stopped, so that the tragedy of destruction—musically projected here in the second movement—and the desolation of its aftermath—the “postscript” of this work—can exist only as fantasy, never to become reality.”
“Apotheosis of this Earth” was commissioned by the Michigan School Band and Orchestral Association, and its premiere performance took place on April 1, 1970, with Husa himself conducting the University of Michigan Symphony Band at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. It proved a powerful piece of music.
“As the Postscript finished,” recalled the composer, “I saw that the students in the band were somehow moved—there were even some tears.”
Music Played in Today's Program
Karel Husa (b. 1921)Apotheosis of This EarthIthaca College Wind Ensemble; Rodney Winther, cond.Mark 3170