Friday, March 26, 2010

Landscape Vs. Soundscape

I had a really interesting conversation with John's dad on Sunday after the concert about music nationalism, or composers who translate their patriotic feelings into music, such as Grieg, Sibelius, Dvorak, etc.  For me, there are two composers, one English and the other American, who - in my mind - as musicians who have successfully "painted" the English and American landscapes, respectively, in their music: Gerald Finzi and Aaron Copland. 

Whether or not you're a classical music fan, I urge you to listen (even if it's for 30 seconds) to both below - when I'm missing America, I frantically search for a recording of Appalachian Springs or Letter From Home in order to visualize the vastness of America's heartland.  And when I'm in the States and badly missing the pensive English countryside with its grey skies and contrasting green fields dotted with cows and sheep, I turn to Finzi.

So here we have my snapshot (taken out of a moving vehicle) of an English shire that shall remain unnamed, in its wry, moody state:

And Finzi's haunting Romance in E flat Major, Op. 11:

Contrasted by the wild, American prairie (where Laura Ingalls Wilder frolicked, where the deer and the antelope play ... where seldom is heard, a discouraging word ... you know the rest):

And the hopefulness of Copland's Appalachian Springs:

Photo source



  1. Bartok: Concerto 4th movement.
    Bartok felt homesick in the US and in this movement the melody on the brass&wind instruments is said to represent the American city and the melody on the strings is Hungary.
    Starts around 6:50 on this:

  2. Ah, yes I can hear that - the brass & wind melody reminds me of Bernstein and a bit of Copland as well!


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