Morton Gould: A Tribute





Morton Gould · A Tribute




American Ballads




Spirituals for Strings






Symphonette No. 2




American Salute




Kenneth Klein,






The London








Every year the American Symphony Orchestra League presents an award to a person or institution who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of classical music in the United States. In 1983 it was my privilege, as Chairman of the League, to present this Gold Baton Award to Morton Gould.




At the time, I called Morton a great American composer and proceeded to prove my point by using specific examples from his music. Now, as we come to the end of this glorious age of dissonance we call 20th Century Music, it is my belief more than ever that the music of Morton Gould will endure because he knew America. He felt it in his bones its humor and patriotism, its rhythm and pulse. The music of Morton Gould is American its people and land, its energy and spirit. Apple Waltzes, Burchfield Gallery, Cinerama Holiday, the Fall River Legend, his entire output captures America singing with all its many wonderful voices. Now -forever - it is ours to enjoy.




Peter Kermani






Martin Bookspan Interview Morton Gould and Kenneth Klein




Martin Bookspan writes: "In an interview I conducted with Morton Gould for this disc, he expressed delight with Kenneth Klein's performances - as well he should, for these are expressive and considered interpretations."




MB: Three of the four works in this album carry the word "American" in their title. What does that indicate?




MG: Represented here are some of my settings - I'd like to think of them as creative settings - of some of America's colloquial or vernacular musical elements: spirituals, jazz to some extent, and folk music. Spirituals as a musical expression have been a powerful influence on me, and I've written a number of works that show that influence. One of the earliest is a piece that has proved to be very popular, my Spirituals for String Choir and Orchestra of 1941, which is now titled simply Spirituals for Orchestra. For the celebration of America's Bicentennial Year in 1976 I composed a work for a consortium of symphony orchestras and called it Symphony of Spirituals. The Spirituals for Strings that Kenneth includes in this recording is my free adaptation of some of what I consider to be the greatest spirituals, among them Gimme That Old time Religion and Swing Low Sweet Chariot.




KK: And Morton's setting of these spirituals is quite remarkable and moving. So much so, in fact, that during the recording sessions the players in the orchestra became more and more involved in the emotional temperature of the music, perhaps particularly so in the American Ballads. And these, after all, are British musicians, not American!




MG: The American Ballads was another Bicentennial Commission I had three all told. This was a co-commission by the New York State Arts Council and the United States Historical Society for the Queens Symphony Orchestra in New York. The first movement, which is called Star-Spangled Overture, is a whole series of variants on the National Anthem. The second movement, Amber Waves, is a similar treatment of America the Beautiful.




KK: And I must add that this is some of the most moving of all the music we recorded. Morton's setting starts quietly and lyrically, and it builds to a big brass choir crescendo at the end. When that happens it just opens up gloriously.




MG: After that is a section called Jubilo - a real old Gospel tune that oddly enough a few years ago became a hit on the charts. It's a truly exuberant, positive tune.




KK: Then comes Memorials.




MG: Memorials is a series of highly stylized variations on taps.




KK: Mysterious and skeletal at the beginning, and then returning to that mood at the end, with the basic rhythm and theme in the tympani, and, of course, the trumpet.




MG: After Memorials comes Saratoga Quick-Step, which is a variant on The Girl I Left Behind Me, a tune of the American Revolution. I call it Saratoga Quick-Step because it also has a parody lyric having to do with the British General Burgoyne, who was defeated at Saratoga. The final movement is called Hymnal, a setting of We Shall Overcome, which has really become one of our hymns. In this I use a wide spectrum of variations, including an evocation of a memorial jazz band New Orleans style.




MB: Your American Symphonette No. 2 contains as its second movement what may well be your best-known single piece. I'm referring, of course, to the Pavane, with its infectious muted trumpet theme.




MG: I wrote the symphonette for a radio series I was conducting in the mid-1930s. That was a time when we used words like dinette and kitchenette, and since this was a little symphony I called it a symphonette. The first movement is a condensed sonata-form movement.




KK: which in the score is marked Moderately fast, with vigor and bounce, and it has a rather strong jazz influence.




MG: Then comes the Pavane, and then the last movement which is marked Fast and racy and is a slight takeoff on the Prelude from Bach's E-major unaccompanied Violin Partita. In the middle section there are some riffs that reflect popular jazz elements of the '30s.




MB: I said the Pavane was your best-known piece. But if there's anything in your catalogue to challenge the popularity of the Pavane it's the American Salute. How did that come to be written?




MG: Again, it was for a radio broadcast during the Second World War. We had done all sorts of salutes to our wartime Allies, and now it was time for an American salute. When I suggested to the producer the song When Johnny Comes Marching Home, he said "Do it!" At six o'clock in the evening before the broadcast I sat down at my desk to get to work on the piece, with copyists standing by. The next morning we had the music on the stands for rehearsal and we broadcast it that evening. Originally I had a quiet ending, but my publisher said, "You can't end that quietly," and so I rewrote the ending to the big climax that now has become familiar. I hever dreamed that the piece I wrote overnight because I had to would become such a big popular hit.




Martin Bookspan






American Ballads (1976)




American Ballads is the result of a Bicentennial commission by the Queens Symphony Orchestra through grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the U.S. Historical Society. It seemed logical to continue the paraphrases and instrumental comment on our musical heritage that shaped my career through the years. My American Salute is the most widely known example of this aspect of my writing. I purposely selected American "chestnuts" because of obvious immediacy and familiarity, and therefore a challenge to hopefully enhance them in orchestral transformation. However, there are also extramusical and personal reasons for the choice of materials and approach. I was born and grew up in Queens - and in my early schooling the sound and image of "America the Beautiful" moved me, and still does. "The Star Spangled Banner" so difficult to sing, instrumentally has to me a kind of classical strength - perhaps all drinking songs (which this originally was) do. "Year of Jubilo" is an extroverted freedom song from the Civil War period by a prolific and widely sung composer of that time, Henry C. Work. "Taps" has a strange, simple finality expressed through a few basic notes. "The Girl I Left Behind Me" is a jaunty type of marching tune from Colonial times obviously derived from the "Old Country." Among its uses was a satirical taunting of "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne on his defeat at Saratoga - hence "Saratoga Quickstep." "We Shall Overcome" has its roots in gospel, but it has become a national hymn of hope and inspiration. Folk and popular expressions transcend national, regional, ethnic and social origins; they voice the sound of people, and in that sense are universal. The scoring is for conventional orchestra and was completed February 7, 1976. The individual movements are performable alone, and their order as a suite interchangeable at the conductor's discretion.




Morton Gould






Spirituals for Strings (1959)




Spirituals are spiritual. They are simple and profound, unique and recognizable. While national in origin, they echo man's soul everywhere. Their appeal is universal. They were the start of our jazz, and have spiced and seasoned our creative musical scene, both popular and symphonic. Spirituals are derived from both Negro and white sources, and these influences combine, like all folk expressions, to make an indigenous musical language.




It is the touching and human spirituality of spirituals that communicates to both the most sophisticated and the naïve listener. They have been born of work and play, of suffering and joy, of oppression and liberation. Listening to spirituals is not passive; it is rather an act of participation a sense of communal expression. The words are invariably basic, and the music mirrors their inflection. Perhaps it is due to this inflection, which is so characteristic, that when one hears the musical phrases alone the matching words are immediately evoked.




As a composer I have written a number of original works that have their roots in their idiom. In this work, however, I have used actual spirituals in instrumental settings. I have purposely treated them with what, I hope, is restraint. In some of these transcriptions I have used strings, harp and celesta; in the others I have omitted the celesta and used a double string orchestra, with harp in some cases.




Morton Gould






American Symphonette No. 2 (1938)




The American Symphonette No. 2 is one of Gould's most durable masterpieces. Written for orchestra, it nevertheless is based in the jazz idiom. The second movement, the ever popular Pavane, has been used as thematic material by jazz greats John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and David Baker.




American Salute (1943)




American Salute, based on "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" among other marching songs, has entered the repertory as a "must" for all patriotic concerts.








Morton Gould




"Composing is my life blood," said Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Morton Gould. "That is basically me, and although I have done many things in my life - conducting, arranging, playing piano, and so on - what is fundamental is my being a composer."




Born in Richmond Hill, New York, on December 10, 1913, 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 U.S. Bicentennial.




As a conductor, Gould led all the major American orchestras as well as those of Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan and Australia. In 1966 he won a Grammy


Award for his recording of Ives' First Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a recording that led the way for a new appreciation of Ives' work.




In 1994 Gould was honored by the Kennedy Center in recognition of lifetime contributions to American culture. He was Musical America's 1994 Composer-of-the-Year and 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 served on the board of the American Symphony Orchestra League and on the National Endowment for the Arts music panel.




Morton Gould died on February 21, 1996 while serving as artist-in-residence at the newly established Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida.




Mr. Gould's music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc.






Kenneth Klein




Conductor Kenneth Klein firmly established his career with a European debut appearance with the Nuremberg Symphony. Engagements quickly followed with such European ensembles as the London Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony, Orchestre National de France, and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, among others.




He has also served as a musical ambassador, leading various orchestras on tour throughout the Soviet Union, Romania, and Sweden. In November 1991, Mr. Klein returned to London to make his debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.




Brought by composer Carlos Chavez to Mexico, Kenneth Klein served for 12 years as the music director of the Guadalajara Symphony. He was heard by Pablo Casals who subsequently engaged him to conduct the Puerto Rico Symphony on numerous occasions. This led to an appearance at the Festival Casals.




In the United States, he has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Houston Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and the Louisville Orchestra. Together Kenneth Klein and the New York Virtuosi Chamber Symphony have performed at Lincoln Center, most recently in May, 1996, as well as having toured the major musical centers of Germany. This fall he returns to tour Russia and to perform in Vienna's beloved Musikverein. A tour of Japan and other Asian countries is being prepared.




On the recording front, Kenneth Klein has conducted Skyscrapers, featuring music of the turn-of-the-century American East Coast School, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra on Angel/EMI; an all-Morton Gould recording with the London Philharmonic, also for Angel/EMI; a disc of orchestral music of Aaron Copland with the New York Virtuosi on the Collins Classics label; Three English Serenades, music of Vaughan Williams, Elgar, and Britten on the VOX and ASV labels; Mozart's Symphony No. 29 and Piano Concerto No. 25 on the Ribbonwood label; and violin works of Glazunov, Tchaikovsky, Chausson, Sarasate, and Saint-Saëns with the London Philharmonic on Pickwick/IMP Classics. In the spring of 1993 Unicorn Records reissued for the first time on CD Kenneth Klein's Music from Mexico, featuring symphonic works of Carlos Chávez and his compatriots.




Born and educated in Los Angeles, Mr. Klein received degrees from Stanford University and the University of Southern California. His formal conducting studies were with Fritz Zweig and Richard Lert, who imbued in him the grand nineteenth-century, central European tradition. He is the recipient of two ASCAP awards.






Morton GoulD · Kenneth Klein, conductor


The London Philharmonic




American Ballads (1976)




Star-Spangled Overture (5:04)


Amber Waves (7:19)


Jubilo (3:35)


Memorials (7:08)


Saratoga Quick-Step (4:06)


Hymnal (7:07)




Spirituals for Strings (1959)




Gospel TrainOld Time Religion (2:16)


Were You There?Steal Away (4:55)


All God's Children Got Wings (2:39)


Little David Play on Your Harp (3:49)


CalvaryHe Never Said a Mumblin' Word (4:05)


Ezekiel Saw de Wheel (2:50)




American Symphonette No. 2 (1938)




Moderately fast, with vigor and bounce (3:32)


Pavane (3:32)


Fast and Racy (3:04)


American Salute (1943) (4:12)




Total Time - 69:11