Composers Datebook®

Charles Ives and Henry Brant

Charles Ives (1874-1954) arr. Henry Brant (1913-2008) –A Concord Symphony (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, cond.) innova 414


Composer's Datebook - 20220616

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June 16, 2022

Synopsis

The American composer Henry Brant is famous for his avant-garde “spatial” music – works that require groups of musicians stationed at various points around a performance space. But hard-core film music buffs might also know Brant as a master orchestrator of other composers’ scores for Hollywood productions in the 1960s.

On today’s date in 1995, Brant conducted the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa, Canada, in the premiere of one of his orchestrations – in this case, a symphonic version of the “Concord” Piano Sonata of Charles Ives, first published in 1920. In the long preface to his Sonata, Ives wrote:

“The [Sonata] is an attempt to present [an] impression of the spirit of transcendentalism… associated in the minds of many with Concord, Massachusetts… impressionistic pictures of Emerson and Thoreau, a sketch of the Alcotts, and a scherzo supposed to reflect a lighter quality… found in the fantastic side of Hawthorne.”

Henry Brant had been profoundly influenced by Ives’s music long before he got to know the “Concord” Sonata, but when he did, Brant set to work orchestrating it.

“I sensed that here was a tremendous orchestral piece,” Brant wrote. “It seemed to me that the complete Sonata, in a symphonic orchestration, might become the ‘Great American Symphony’ that we had been seeking for years… What better way to honor Ives.”

Music Played in Today's Program

Charles Ives (1874-1954) arr. Henry Brant (1913-2008) –A Concord Symphony (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, cond.) innova 414

On This Day

Births

  • 1931 - American composer Lucia Dlugoszewski, in Detroit;

Deaths

  • 1970 - Estonian composer Heino Eller, age 83, in Tallinn;

  • 1986 - French composer and organist Maurice Duruflé, age 84, in Paris;

Premieres

  • 1929 - Shostakovich: opera "The Nose," in Leningrad at the Malïly Opera Theater;

  • 1937 - Blitzstein: opera-review, "The Cradle Will Rock," in New York City, composer at piano;

  • 1950 - Persichetti: "Divertimento for Band," by the Goldman Band, with the composer conducting;

  • 1961 - Schoenberg: "Jacob's Ladder," in Vienna, posthumously; at 35th Festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music;

  • 1973 - Britten: opera "Death in Venice," in Snape at The Maltings;

Others

  • 1708 - While in Italy, Handel completes the score to his "Aci, Galatea e Polifemo," presumably for the wedding of the Duke of Alvito to Donna Beatrice Sanseverino on July 19th that year;

  • 1710 - Handel is appointed Kapellemeister to Georg Ludwig, Elector of Hanover (the future King George I), at a salary of 1000 thaler under condition that Handel receive an immediate 12-month leave of absence to London;

  • 1891 - Czech composer Antonin Dvorák receives an honorary degree from Cambridge University in England.