Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Otis Music Blog, Part 1

Here at the Otis Library, we have an extensive collection of classical music. To help get the rest of us up to speed in the genre one of our reference staff members is writing a series on the classical music collection that we house here. If you see any of the titles below and think, "hey, I want to try some classical because it sounds good" come on down to the library and pick up one...or two...or five!!!
(Guest blogger: John Paton; classical music aficionado)


The American Third Symphony


For some unexplained reason, the best American composers of the 20th Century, almost to a man, produced masterpieces when it came to the composition of a Third Symphony. Why this should be, cannot logically be explained, but simply accepted as a coincidental matter of fact. I certainly can’t explain why these same composers Second or Fourth Symphonies did not fare as well. But, for whatever reason, the Third Symphony of a great many American composers has judged as superior.
The list is extraordinary. Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Howard Hanson, David Diamond, Walter Piston, William Schuman, Leonard Bernstein all produced great Third Symphonies. You could even add Charles Ives to the list although from a slightly earlier period. More recently, Philip Glass has produced another great American Third Symphony.
Many of these works do have one thing in common and that is a connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra but that connection has no relationship to the curious fact of their all being Third symphonic efforts.
What is of interest to Otis patrons, is that most of these wonderful symphonies are available in the Classical CD collection. Best known is Aaron Copland, both as a composer and for the familiarity of his Third Symphony. In it, Copland incorporates his familiar, “Fanfare for the Common Man.” Using this as the basis of the final movement, it ushers in one of those wonderful “I know that!” moments that can make listening to music such a great experience. The William Schuman Third Symphony is a personal favorite having heard a stunning live performance of it with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic who perform it on the Otis CD. There is no finer recording of this great work These recordings can serve as wonderful introductions to music whose composers, save Bernstein, may be unfamiliar to listeners.
The American Third Symphony: a great introduction to the greatest music ever produced by our finest native composers. Look for them and check them out; you’ll be happy you did..

1 comment:

Bob said...

Very interesting post, and a very colorful background.