Music for an American Triumph Over Tragedy

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American musicI do not choose to recognize September 11 as a day of mourning any longer. We remember those we lost and grieve their passing. But we as a nation, true to our history,  have overcome. We remember but we survive. We mourn but we continue. We honor and we rebuild.

Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite music. It is music expressive of our country and our people , and I find it fitting for today.

First is Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World.”  Written by a Czech composer and written while in this country, it was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and premiered in 1893. Although Dvorak insisted the symphony contained no actual native American music, he may not have realized how well the symphony reflects the quintessential American melting pot concept.

In a 1956 analysis of the symphony, Leonard Bernstein discusses the multiple musical influences in the work. And here is an interesting comparison of various recordings.

It is one of my favorite symphonies. There is breadth and serenity in the famous melody of the Largo. And the rousing final movement brings to my mind the awesome natural beauty of the Rockies, although I don’t believe Dvorak ever saw them.

The other listening I will do today is the music written by Aaron Copland for the movie “Our Town.” The 1940 film was an adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s play about the fictional small American town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire. Copland’s music is a sensitive backdrop for the story of the joys and sorrows of the citizens of the town.

The most moving moment? For me, it’s Emily’s famous lines near the end of the movie:

Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you! Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it – every, every minute?

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