One of the composers I program with particular frequency at CUUC is the Catalan Federico Mompou (1893-1987). His intimately scored miniatures for solo piano are characterized by two predominant traits: the direct quotation of traditional Catalonian folk music, and the imitation of bell sounds. This latter characteristic is traceable to Mompou's family's long-standing bell foundry firm, the greatest claim of which was the casting of one of the bells on Notre Dame cathedral. The first of his Canciones y danzas (Songs and Dances) is an excellent illustration of both properties, as it quotes the Catalan folk tune "La filla del Carmesi" in its first section, and the "Dansa del Casteltersoll" in the faster dance portion. Throughout, the simple melodies seem to be enveloped in a haze of bell-like reverberations.
Elsewhere, the focus on caste systems calls to mind music inspired by India and its colonial past. Claude Debussy's "La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune" is said to have been inspired by the festivities surrounding George V's coronation as Emperor of India. Nazi Germany is also associated with a racially-driven caste structure, reinforced by Hitler's heavy-handed meddling in the arts. How ironic that the Nazis would ban the music of Felix Mendelssohn--included in this morning's Meditation and Parting Music--because of the composer's Jewish background, while they championed Johann Sebastian Bach as the master Aryan musician. Bach's music had largely disappeared from public consciousness after the composer's death in 1750; it was Mendelssohn's public conducting of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Leipzig in 1829 which led to a widespread rediscovery of Bach's music by the general public as well as by composers of the early nineteenth century.
The CUUC Choir is back as well, with a virtual performance of "Closer to the Flame" as this morning's Anthem. Read on for programming details, and stay tuned for spoken introductions.
Centering Music: Adam Kent, piano
Canción y danza No. 1
Anthem: CUUC Choir directed by Lisa N. Meyer and accompanied by Georgianna Pappas
"Closer to the Flame"
Music by Susan Bentall Boersma; Words by David Lantz III
Meditation: Song without Words in Bb Major, Op. 67, No. 4 "Song of the Pilgrim"
Interlude: "La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune" from Préludes Book II
Parting Music: Song without Words in A Major, Op. 102, No. 5 "The Happy Peasant"