Saturday, March 2, 2013

Variations on ‘America’

Variations on ‘America’ is a witty, irreverent piece originally for organ by Charles Ives (1874–1954), composed in 1891. According to Ives’ biographers, Henry and Sidney Cowell, it was played by Ives in organ recitals in Danbury, CT and in Brewster, NY, in the same year. His father would not let him play some of the pages at the Brewster concert because they had canons in two and three keys at once that proved to be unsuited to performance in church; they made the boys “laugh out and get noisy.” This is Ives’ earliest surviving piece using polytonality. William Schuman wrote a remarkably effective orchestra transcription of the work in 1964 and it is on this version that William Rhoads based his equally effective band transcription. [Franko Colombo Publications] (Source: Band Music Notes, Norman Smith and Albert Stoutamire.)

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