Author Topic: "War Symphonies"  (Read 5201 times)

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kyjo

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #40 on: October 17, 2013, 12:28:51 PM »
I'm not sure that these fascinating recommendations are good for my bank balance, but I will look out for the Kletzki. Many thanks Kyle.

My pleasure, Jeffrey! Eh, who needs unnecessary things like food and paying bills when you have piles of CDs to dig into! ;D

Offline vandermolen

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #41 on: October 17, 2013, 12:57:08 PM »
My pleasure, Jeffrey! Eh, who needs unnecessary things like food and paying bills when you have piles of CDs to dig into! ;D

Quite right Kyle. My wife and daughter can quite easily survive on the occasional water biscuit. 8)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Brian

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #42 on: October 17, 2013, 04:45:45 PM »
Shostakovich: Symphonies 7, 8 and 10
VW: Symphony no. 6 (no. 4 seems to foreshadow the upcoming turmoil)

It's interesting to me that you deliberately skipped over two of the most interesting and emotionally complex "War Symphonies." But that's because of their complexity and their subtlety. They're war symphonies that do the opposite of what we want war symphonies to do.

Jochanaan already talked about Shosty's Ninth, which I and many others take as a sarcastic thumbing of the nose at Stalin. The Soviets expected a grand symphony celebrating their victory over the Nazis, with a choral finale, in precisely the same manner as Beethoven. The Ninth may be light, frothy, and joking (mostly! those slow movements!!), but provided the story is true, that's one of the most incredible acts of defiance in musical history. It's almost as sharp as an attack as some of the darker antiwar music to come out of the period (like Memorial to Lidice). There's a reason the main theme of the finale sounds a little like someone bellowing "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

And then there's Vaughan Williams' Fifth, which I listened to this afternoon. Worth posting the conversation my parents had when I introduced them to the symphony:

Dad: It's strange that this was written in the middle of the Blitz. It sounds so peaceful and happy, like nothing's going on.
Mom: I don't know. I hear a really deep inner sadness.
Me: It's like the "Pastorale", but instead of going to the countryside, he's stuck somewhere else and he's missing the countryside.
Mom: Yes! There's a lot of loss in this symphony.

Offline ChamberNut

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #43 on: October 17, 2013, 04:50:57 PM »
It's interesting to me that you deliberately skipped over two of the most interesting and emotionally complex "War Symphonies." But that's because of their complexity and their subtlety. They're war symphonies that do the opposite of what we want war symphonies to do.

Jochanaan already talked about Shosty's Ninth, which I and many others take as a sarcastic thumbing of the nose at Stalin. The Soviets expected a grand symphony celebrating their victory over the Nazis, with a choral finale, in precisely the same manner as Beethoven. The Ninth may be light, frothy, and joking (mostly! those slow movements!!), but provided the story is true, that's one of the most incredible acts of defiance in musical history. It's almost as sharp as an attack as some of the darker antiwar music to come out of the period (like Memorial to Lidice). There's a reason the main theme of the finale sounds a little like someone bellowing "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

And then there's Vaughan Williams' Fifth, which I listened to this afternoon. Worth posting the conversation my parents had when I introduced them to the symphony:

Dad: It's strange that this was written in the middle of the Blitz. It sounds so peaceful and happy, like nothing's going on.
Mom: I don't know. I hear a really deep inner sadness.
Me: It's like the "Pastorale", but instead of going to the countryside, he's stuck somewhere else and he's missing the countryside.
Mom: Yes! There's a lot of loss in this symphony.

+1 Brian on mentioning Shosty's 9th and Vaughan Williams 5th!  :)
Location:  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Offline amw

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2013, 06:02:24 PM »
It's interesting to me that you deliberately skipped over two of the most interesting and emotionally complex "War Symphonies." But that's because of their complexity and their subtlety. They're war symphonies that do the opposite of what we want war symphonies to do.

Jochanaan already talked about Shosty's Ninth, which I and many others take as a sarcastic thumbing of the nose at Stalin. The Soviets expected a grand symphony celebrating their victory over the Nazis, with a choral finale, in precisely the same manner as Beethoven. The Ninth may be light, frothy, and joking (mostly! those slow movements!!), but provided the story is true, that's one of the most incredible acts of defiance in musical history. It's almost as sharp as an attack as some of the darker antiwar music to come out of the period (like Memorial to Lidice).

There's an interesting example of Shostakovich's widespread intertextuality and self-quotation in connection with the 9th symphony.

The symphony was Op. 70, written in 1945. His Op. 68 from 1944, another lighter, divertimento-style piece, is the Second String Quartet, whose finale is a theme and variations. An important theme in the finale of the Ninth Symphony is based on one of the variations from this movement (if you listen to the quartet you'll probably figure out which one immediately). Shostakovich did tend to repeat himself a lot, (what a lazy composer :P ) but one element that suggests this is more than a simple borrowing is a Mussorgsky connection. Shostakovich was a great admirer of & did much editorial work on the music of Mussorgsky, and it so happens that the theme of the variations in Op. 68 is basically a Shostakovich-ized version of the opening theme of Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. That opening theme leads into a scene where police officers threaten and browbeat a crowd into begging the usurper Boris Godunov to take the throne. Food for thought. :>

(The same theme from Op. 68 also appears in the Piano Trio Op. 67, which is usually thought of as a "war" work as well, although a more overt one, and I'm pretty sure there are references to it in the Third Quartet Op. 73. Another possible Mussorgsky connection is the "Elmira" theme from the 10th symphony which has always reminded me much more of the Fool's Lament for Russia in Act IV, though that may have been less conscious.)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #45 on: October 17, 2013, 06:10:40 PM »
It's interesting to me that you deliberately skipped over two of the most interesting and emotionally complex "War Symphonies." But that's because of their complexity and their subtlety. They're war symphonies that do the opposite of what we want war symphonies to do.

Jochanaan already talked about Shosty's Ninth, which I and many others take as a sarcastic thumbing of the nose at Stalin. The Soviets expected a grand symphony celebrating their victory over the Nazis, with a choral finale, in precisely the same manner as Beethoven. The Ninth may be light, frothy, and joking (mostly! those slow movements!!), but provided the story is true, that's one of the most incredible acts of defiance in musical history. It's almost as sharp as an attack as some of the darker antiwar music to come out of the period (like Memorial to Lidice). There's a reason the main theme of the finale sounds a little like someone bellowing "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!"

And then there's Vaughan Williams' Fifth, which I listened to this afternoon. Worth posting the conversation my parents had when I introduced them to the symphony:

Dad: It's strange that this was written in the middle of the Blitz. It sounds so peaceful and happy, like nothing's going on.
Mom: I don't know. I hear a really deep inner sadness.
Me: It's like the "Pastorale", but instead of going to the countryside, he's stuck somewhere else and he's missing the countryside.
Mom: Yes! There's a lot of loss in this symphony.

Your Mom is spot-on with her comments about RVW's 5th. It is a work of great loss IMHO, but it is also a work where he was free to pursue the love of his life: Ursula. That Romanza section can be interpreted several ways, but I do hear some yearning for what has been lost, but also what RVW has gained in his life from meeting his soulmate, so it's these two contradictory feelings that permeate much of that movement. This symphony was dedicated to Sibelius (without permission) and shares some parallels with his 6th. Both symphonies have a deep undercurrent of isolation and despair.
"Competitions are for horses, not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline vandermolen

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #46 on: October 18, 2013, 01:27:22 AM »
Your Mom is spot-on with her comments about RVW's 5th. It is a work of great loss IMHO, but it is also a work where he was free to pursue the love of his life: Ursula. That Romanza section can be interpreted several ways, but I do hear some yearning for what has been lost, but also what RVW has gained in his life from meeting his soulmate, so it's these two contradictory feelings that permeate much of that movement. This symphony was dedicated to Sibelius (without permission) and shares some parallels with his 6th. Both symphonies have a deep undercurrent of isolation and despair.

Nice analysis.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2013, 01:29:39 AM »
I started to think about World War One. Bliss's Symphony 'Morning Heroes' commemorates the loss of his brother in the war,as does Gordon Jacob's underrated First Symphony.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline relm1

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2013, 02:16:46 AM »
And then there's Vaughan Williams' Fifth, which I listened to this afternoon. Worth posting the conversation my parents had when I introduced them to the symphony:

Dad: It's strange that this was written in the middle of the Blitz. It sounds so peaceful and happy, like nothing's going on.
Mom: I don't know. I hear a really deep inner sadness.
Me: It's like the "Pastorale", but instead of going to the countryside, he's stuck somewhere else and he's missing the countryside.
Mom: Yes! There's a lot of loss in this symphony.
Wow, your parents are perceptive.  A conversation with my parents over this music would go like this:
Dad: how do you turn off this radio?
Mom: It's fine as long as the volume is low so I can talk.

Got to love parents who are mystified by what their kids love!
But good call on these two War symphonies.  Powerful and personal in their ways.

Offline Brian

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2013, 06:30:18 AM »
Your Mom is spot-on with her comments about RVW's 5th. It is a work of great loss IMHO, but it is also a work where he was free to pursue the love of his life: Ursula. That Romanza section can be interpreted several ways, but I do hear some yearning for what has been lost, but also what RVW has gained in his life from meeting his soulmate, so it's these two contradictory feelings that permeate much of that movement. This symphony was dedicated to Sibelius (without permission) and shares some parallels with his 6th. Both symphonies have a deep undercurrent of isolation and despair.

Wow, thanks for this great post. I hadn't made the connection with Sibelius' Sixth before but it makes all the sense in the world.

Wow, your parents are perceptive.  A conversation with my parents over this music would go like this:
Dad: how do you turn off this radio?
Mom: It's fine as long as the volume is low so I can talk.

Got to love parents who are mystified by what their kids love!
But good call on these two War symphonies.  Powerful and personal in their ways.

Well, I got my love of classical music from my parents. That said, they draw the line at much of the 20th century - Sibelius is their least favorite composer. Guess that's my next project. ;)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #50 on: October 18, 2013, 06:32:08 AM »
"Competitions are for horses, not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #51 on: October 18, 2013, 06:32:51 AM »
Wow, thanks for this great post. I hadn't made the connection with Sibelius' Sixth before but it makes all the sense in the world.

Thanks, Brian. :)
"Competitions are for horses, not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Sean

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #52 on: October 18, 2013, 06:58:32 AM »
Beethoven Eroica.

Offline The new erato

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #53 on: October 18, 2013, 07:01:48 AM »
Harals Sćverud's Kjempeviseslĺtten of course was dedicated to the Norwegian WWII resistance.

Online North Star

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #54 on: October 18, 2013, 07:16:27 AM »
Wow, thanks for this great post. I hadn't made the connection with Sibelius' Sixth before but it makes all the sense in the world.

Well, I got my love of classical music from my parents. That said, they draw the line at much of the 20th century - Sibelius is their least favorite composer. Guess that's my next project. ;)
But not the most hated - that's something already. :D
My parents' musical taste is much the same - they have liked some Prokofiev & Shostakovich, but Debussy, Stravinsky, 2nd VS are already too 'modern' for them often.  :-\
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Offline The new erato

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #55 on: October 18, 2013, 07:38:11 AM »
But not the most hated - that's something already. :D
My parents' musical taste is much the same - they have liked some Prokofiev & Shostakovich, but Debussy, Stravinsky, 2nd VS are already too 'modern' for them often.  :-\
And your children will say the same about your relationship with Stockhausen and Cage (???)

Online North Star

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #56 on: October 18, 2013, 05:24:29 PM »
And your children will say the same about your relationship with Stockhausen and Cage (???)
Might do, I suppose.  8)
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #57 on: October 19, 2013, 06:52:59 AM »
Klaus Egge's fine Symphony No 1, dedicated to the Norwegian merchant crews who served in World War Two.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Sean

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #58 on: October 19, 2013, 06:52:47 PM »
Wellington's Victory

Offline André

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Re: "War Symphonies"
« Reply #59 on: September 30, 2017, 05:22:59 PM »
Bump.

Vaughan Williams' Pastoral is the work of someone who has returned from war and attempts to exorcize its memories.

I dream of a concert program that would include both 3rd symphonies by RVW and Honegger. Might be heavy-going, though.

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