Author Topic: Ruggles the Sun Treader  (Read 11683 times)

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Offline Guido

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Ruggles the Sun Treader
« on: August 25, 2007, 05:45:40 PM »
Have been listeing to a lot of Ives recently, and through this my attention has been turned to Ruggles too. For those who do not know he completed a tiny but perfectly formed oevre of nine completed and surviving works. His works are searingly intense, atonal, dramatic, very personal, moving. He worked painfully slowly, not having had any formal musical training, and worked at the piano, essentially by trial and error - playing a chord, listening, then correcting and trying again. He used to sit at the piano with Ives, play one of his soaring atonal melodies and shout "doesn't that twist yer guts!!"

Sun Treader (1926-31) is a truly astonishing work - at sixteen minutes long it is easily Ruggles' longest work, and it contains an intensity of expression and emotion that is of quite a rare order. Its not easy on the ear (deliberately so!), but it is utterly involving, and has a powerful beauty that is all its own. It's the apex of his achievement and for anyone even remotely interested in contemporary music it is surely a must.

Are there any good books on his life?

I've heard Evocations (4 chants for piano), Portals, Angels, Toys, some early songs, Sun-Treader and Organum on piano. I am yet to hear Men and Mountains, Vox clamans in deserto and Organum for orchestra and Exaltation... such a pity that Michael Tilson Thomas' complete works LPs have not been reissued.
Geologist.

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Heather Harrison

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2007, 06:14:40 PM »
Thanks for mentioning this.  I love Ives, but I have never encountered Ruggles.  I'll look for some recordings.

Heather

Sean

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2007, 06:33:27 AM »
Yes indeed, Sun treader has singular passion, a monolithic steamroller of a piece; the choral Exultation with organ and trumpet is another oddball. I might compare Ruggles to Revueltas and the likes of Sensemaya...

Kullervo

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2007, 06:53:41 AM »
This disc is excellent:



Inexplicably, the cover omitted Ruth Crawford-Seeger's Andante for Strings, which is just as great as the other two pieces.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2007, 10:50:38 PM »
I have always liked Ruggles's Sun Treader with its Browning quotation "Life and light be thine forever", since I heard it on an old DGG LP with Michael Tilson Thomas and the Boston SO (coupled with the best performance I know of Ives's Three Places in New England.) DGG bought out a CD with Piston's fine Second Symphony (his best I think) included as well...a great CD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Cato

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2007, 02:58:58 AM »
Yes to everything by the rugged Ruggles!!!

And yes, the Cleveland Orchestra/Dohnanyi CD mentioned above is an all-around fave, and I do indeed recall the marvelous LP in the early 1970's with Tilson-Thomas conducting "Sun-Treader" and the cover art was really great, showing a humanoid figure striding the planets with the sun for a head!

The only lament is that there are not enough Ruggles works: too many other obligations, or a Liadovian pace of composition...or...?
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karlhenning

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #6 on: August 28, 2007, 03:31:05 AM »

Kullervo

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2007, 04:12:45 AM »
Ah, Ruggles! Probably the only composer to have a 'T' stop name after him  8)

I didn't know that! Well, I almost never left the red line unless I was going to Chinatown. ;)

Offline Guido

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2007, 04:48:09 AM »
Heather - Ruggles is far more dissonant than Ives - consistently atonal where Ives only visited that sound world occasionally in his wider pallete of sounds - the closest thing I think would be the Robert Browning Overture, which to me never sounded much like Ives anyway (surely his oddest and least successful large scale work). Even then its not that similar. I have just ordered Men and Mountains and Organum.

Can't seem to find a recording of Exultation - any clues Sean?
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Sean

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #9 on: August 28, 2007, 04:58:14 AM »
Hi Guido, I'm afraid I'm not sure about the recordings situation- I've only tracked two of Ruggles pieces down and at least one was a broadcast.

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2007, 06:22:42 PM »
Yes to everything by the rugged Ruggles!!!

The only lament is that there are not enough Ruggles works: too many other obligations, or a Liadovian pace of composition...or...?

Ruggles worked very slowly and was very self-critical. He destroyed more of his pieces than he finished. In the liner notes of the first recording of Sun Treader (conductedby Zoltan Rozsnyai) it mentions a list of some of his other works, including one called "Polyphonic Composition for Four Pianos". Whatever became of that?

Some songs by Ruggles for voice and piano, dating to the 1890s, apparently also exist, but no one has paid them much attention.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2007, 06:37:05 PM by Mark G. Simon »

Offline Guido

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2007, 10:15:18 PM »
They are however recorded in the very valuable CD played by Donald Berman entitled: the Uncovered Ruggles (he's also done two volumes of 'the Ukown Ives, which include previously unpublished pieces).
Geologist.

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Mark G. Simon

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2007, 05:11:16 AM »
They are however recorded in the very valuable CD played by Donald Berman entitled: the Uncovered Ruggles (he's also done two volumes of 'the Ukown Ives, which include previously unpublished pieces).

Cool.

Kullervo

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2007, 07:37:36 AM »
I've uploaded the aforementioned disc containing works by Ruggles, Ives and Ruth Crawford-Seeger.

You can download it here:)

Offline BachQ

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2007, 11:26:16 AM »
Inexplicably, the cover omitted Ruth Crawford-Seeger's Andante for Strings, which is just as great as the other two pieces.

Even if it were "less great," would that validate its omission?


gomro

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2007, 03:48:06 PM »
Yes indeed, Sun treader has singular passion, a monolithic steamroller of a piece; the choral Exultation with organ and trumpet is another oddball. I might compare Ruggles to Revueltas and the likes of Sensemaya...

If Revueltas pastiched Varese, then the result would be Ruggles. There are few works in my experience with the sort of insane power in Sun-Treader's heavenstorming.

paulb

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2008, 05:56:03 PM »
Have been listeing to a lot of Ives recently, and through this my attention has been turned to Ruggles too. For those who do not know he completed a tiny but perfectly formed oevre of nine completed and surviving works. His works are searingly intense, atonal, dramatic, very personal, moving. He worked painfully slowly, not having had any formal musical training, and worked at the piano, essentially by trial and error - playing a chord, listening, then correcting and trying again. He used to sit at the piano with Ives, play one of his soaring atonal melodies and shout "doesn't that twist yer guts!!"

Sun Treader (1926-31) is a truly astonishing work - at sixteen minutes long it is easily Ruggles' longest work, and it contains an intensity of expression and emotion that is of quite a rare order. Its not easy on the ear (deliberately so!), but it is utterly involving, and has a powerful beauty that is all its own. It's the apex of his achievement and for anyone even remotely interested in contemporary music it is surely a must.

Are there any good books on his life?

I've heard Evocations (4 chants for piano), Portals, Angels, Toys, some early songs, Sun-Treader and Organum on piano. I am yet to hear Men and Mountains, Vox clamans in deserto and Organum for orchestra and Exaltation... such a pity that Michael Tilson Thomas' complete works LPs have not been reissued.

I agree, Ruggles, Sun Treader, and his nearly as fine Men and Mountains, are masterpieces of Classical Music. Outside of Elliott Carter, I really only recognize some of Ives, and these 2 works from Ruggles that fall within the Classical Music genre.
IOW Copland is american folk orch, Bernie is braodway orch. and so on. Neither are CM composers. as neither are most all others. CM is a  genre began with Bach and his generation.

longears

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2008, 06:03:46 PM »
Welcome back, Paul!  Where've you been keeping yourself? 

paulb

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2008, 08:56:58 AM »
Welcome back, Paul!  Where've you been keeping yourself? 

Chillin out.
Last 3 months been posting over at the easy going amazon forum,.
Over there i get to say pretty much what i want ,and get nothing snidey nor vulgar in way of atttacks.
which was not the case last time i was here.
btw the disc Coey posted is sadly OOP, Dohnanyi/Cleveland.
The Thomas/Boston in Ruggles,  I think is not as good. I could be wrong, but my hunch says the Dohnanyi is much better.
later
Paul

Offline Brewski

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Re: Ruggles the Sun Treader
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2008, 09:08:02 AM »
Welcome back, Paul!   :D

About Ruggles, I actually heard a singer do "Toys" many years ago--unfortunately can't recall who it was at the moment--but it is wonderful.  The lyrics end with a description of a balloon floating off into the sky, and similarly, the melodic line goes up the scale, getting higher and higher until it seems to disappear.

Just did a search and found this interesting CD with of all people, Susan Narucki, singing it!  I may have to get this immediately. 

--Bruce
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