Charles Ives's music is really hard to play, Neil. It is no small endeavour to put on something like the Fourth Symphony (widely considered his masterpiece). Also, he only wrote a limited number of pieces that are really accessible, including the First and Second Symphonies, [his orchestral suite] 'Three Places in New England', and a lot of his songs. But perhaps the fact that Charles Ives is widely acknowledged as America's first master composer, and yet Americans are unwilling to engage with with his challenging music, tells us something about American tastes in the twenty-first century.
I cannot say that I am a particular fan(atic) of Charles Ives, yet nor am I a particular fan(atic) of Britten, Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Purcell. I find it interesting that the newly formed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America concludes its first-ever Prom (13) with the Russian masterpieces, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s monumental 10th Symphony. On Sunday night, in addition, there is the European premiere of 'Magiya', a work by American rising star Sean Shepherd, which could prove to be a fascinating contrast.
the newly formed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America concludes its first-ever Prom (13) with the Russian masterpieces, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s monumental 10th Symphony.
Well, probably because Valery Gergiev is conducting the concert
I would expect that these crowd-pleasing works were chosen for marketing reasons, to fill-up that Victorian swimming-pool known as the RAH, rather than what the orchestra members themselves would have chosen?
I am delighted to see that Shostakovich 10 is being performed, of course It's not my favourite of the Shostakovich symphonies, but it is a very worthwhile work. I can't imagine - with Snowden, etc - they would have chosen such a heavily Russian program with hindsight. Full marks to them for sticking to it anyhow. Symphony No 10 is - allegedly - a portrait of Stalin... and perhaps Americans will look at what they are doing in Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay, and listening-in on conversations and emails... and perhaps pause for thought?
It's a shame it took American anger at La Sistema, and the publicity it gets, for the US authorities to find the resources for a national youth orchestra in the USA. However, at least they've finally got round to it
But when will they play Ives? And why can't Americans deal with Ives? I can't accept the remark that it's 'difficult to play' as a serious answer to this, frankly
Perhaps Sydney might like to comment about the reasons why? Is it the triumph of popular music, perhaps?
Anyway, one composer whom my parents took me to hear was Michael Tippett, at the world premiere of 'The Mask of Time'. What I really remember about the concert was that at the end, Michael kissed absolutely everyone!