About this Recording
8.572629 - GOULD, M.: Derivations / Saint Lawrence Suite / Symphony No. 4, "West Point" (University of Kansas Wind Ensemble, Weiss)
English 

Morton Gould (1913–1996)
Fanfare for Freedom • Saint Lawrence Suite Jericho Rhapsody • Derivations • Symphony No. 4 ‘West Point’

 

Born in Richmond Hill, New York, on 10 December 1913, Morton Gould was recognized early on as a child prodigy with the ability to improvise and compose. At the age of six he had his first composition published. He studied at the Institute of Musical Art (now The Juilliard School), but his most important teachers were Abby Whiteside (piano) and Vincent Jones (composition). During the Depression, Gould (still a teenager) found work in New York’s vaudeville and movie theaters. When Radio City Music Hall opened, the young Gould was its staff pianist. By the age of 21 he was conducting and arranging a series of orchestral programs for WOR Mutual Radio. Gould attained national prominence through his work in radio, as he appealed to a wide-ranging audience with his combination of classical and popular programming. During the 1940s Gould appeared on the “Cresta Blanca Carnival” program and “The Chrysler Hour” (CBS), reaching an audience of millions.

Gould composed Broadway scores, film music, music for television, and ballet scores. His music was commissioned by symphony orchestras throughout the United States, the Library of Congress, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Ballet Theatre, and the New York City Ballet. Gould integrated jazz, blues, gospel, country-and-western, and folk elements into compositions which bear Gould’s unequaled mastery of orchestration and imaginative formal structures. These instantly recognizable American sounds led to Gould’s receiving three commissions for the US Bicentennial.

In addition to a Pulitzer Prize and Kennedy Center Honor, Gould was Musical America’s 1994 Composer-of-the-Year. A long-time member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Gould was elected president of ASCAP in 1986, a post he held until 1994. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He also served on the board of the American Symphony Orchestra League and on the National Endowment for the Arts music panel.

Fanfare for Freedom was one of a series of fanfares composed by prominent American composers for the 1942–43 season of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Eugene Goossens. During World War I, Goossens had asked British composers for a fanfare to begin each of his concerts. The series had been so successful that he decided he would repeat the process using American composers in World War II. In addition to works by composers such as Roy Harris, Walter Piston, Henry Cowell, and Paul Creston, the series produced Aaron Copland’s celebrated Fanfare for the Common Man. Scored for just the winds of the orchestra, Gould’s stirring contribution to this series was premiered by Goossens and the orchestra in 1943.

Saint Lawrence Suite is the only original work for wind band to date ever nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for composition. The work was commissioned by the Power Authority of the State of New York and the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario for the ceremony, September 5, 1958, marking the delivery of commercial hydro-electric power from the joint Robert-Moses Power Dam and Robert H. Saunders-St Lawrence Generating Station. At this opening of the great St Lawrence Power Project, the composer conducted the Royal Ordinance Corps military band in the first performance of this music. Throughout the work, Gould makes use of two solo trumpets whose antiphonal calls serve to introduce and comment on the movements. They symbolize, in a general sense, the two host countries on either side of the United States-Canadian border. In the final movement these trumpets blend with the band in fanfares that bring the work to a close.

Jericho is the musical retelling of the biblical story of the capture of the city of Jericho by the Israelites led by Joshua. As the Israelites laid siege on the city, God ordered Joshua to march around the city once every day for six days led by seven priests carrying trumpets in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day, as God had promised, the walls came tumbling down while the priests blew their trumpets and all of the soldiers gave a loud shout. Gould’s work is in eight short sections, the titles of which imply the story sequence: “Prologue,” “Roll Call,” “Chant,” “Dance,” “March and Battle,” Joshua’s Trumpets,” “the Walls Came Tumblin’ Down” and “Hallelujah.”

Gould wrote his Derivations for Clarinet and Band for Benny Goodman in November 1955. Of this work, the composer stated:

The first movement, called Warm-up, is an abstract opening where the instruments sort of flex their muscles. The second, Contrapuntal Blues, is a slow, attenuated, linear section with the instruments weaving in, out, about and across each other in different blues modes. The third, Rag, represents a stylization of a Twenties period idea, a nostalgic, rhythmically asymmetric evocation of ragtime. The last movement, Ride-Out, is a galvanizing movement meant to go like a shot. Its accumulating barrage of jazz-oriented ostinatos and motifs attempts to give the drive and feel of jazz improvisation.

The Symphony for Band was written for the West Point Sesquicentennial celebration at the request of Captain Francis E. Resta of the United States Military Academy Band. Gould’s only symphony for band, the work has long been one of the cornerstones of the wind band repertoire. Gould describes the symphony as follows:

The first movement is lyrical and dramatic. The work starts with a quiet and melodic statement of the main theme and motifs that are used and expanded through the entire piece; the general character is elegiac. There is contrast between sonorous brass statements and poignant and contemplative reflections in the woodwinds. This resolves into a broad and noble exposition of one of the motifs, followed by a transition to what serves as both an extended Coda of the movement and a transformation and peroration of the preceding sections. The form here is a passacaglia based on a martial theme first stated in the tuba. On this is built a series of variations that grow in intensity. They mount to a dynamic peak, and after a final climactic variation the movement recalls the previous lyricisms, but with the passacaglia motif hovering in the background; the movement finishes quietly.

The second and final movement is lusty and extroverted in quality. The texture is a stylization of marching tunes that parades past in an array of embellishments and rhythmic variations. At one point there is a simulation of a Fife and Drum Corps which, incidentally, was the instrumentation of the West Point Band. After a brief transformed restatement of the themes in the first movement, the work finishes in a virtuoso Coda of martial fanfares and flourishes.


Scott Weiss


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