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Friday, June 4, 2010

Music by Dello Joio, Thompson & Moross (1989)

Liner Notes:


Epigraph was commissioned by Mrs. Frederic H. Douglas in commemoration of her late brother, A. Lincoln Gillespie, Jr., for the Denver Symphony Orchestra. It was first performed by that group on January 29, 1952 with Saul Caston conducting. The composer describes it as "simply a piece written to the memory of a man. It is at best a musical inscription that is conceived in terms of my own imagination as to what A. Lincoln Gillespie was like. It is musically in form a three-part song. I did not feel compelled to write a dirge-like type of music, but a music that sang, maybe roughly at times, and maybe with humor—because I suspect that is what A. Lincoln Gillespie would have wanted. For me to give a technical analysis, I am afraid, would be boring. Music that has lasted for a long time is worthy of detailed treatment but let us not get confused by a composer who hopes that maybe sometime in the future the music may be worth that trouble for someone else."

Dello Joio's first musical studies were with his father, an organist and composer, from whom he went to Pietro Yon, then organist at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. Enrollment at the Institute of Musical Art, undergraduate division of the famous Juilliard School of Music, brought him under the tutelage of Gaston Dethier, and it was while enrolled here that Dello Joio discovered his talents for composition. Later studies at the Juilliard School, at the Berkshire Music Center and the Yale School of Music were carried on under the noted composers Bernard Wagenaar and Paul Hindemith.

In 1942 Dello Joio's "Magnificat” for Orchestra won him the Town hall Composition Award, and later recognition of his talents came in the grant of two successive Guggenheim Fellowships, a grant of $1,000 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New York Music Critics' Circle Award, given him in 1949 for his "Variations, Chaconne and Finale".


Scored for 3 flutes, piccolo, 2 oboes, English horn, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, tuba, tympany, cymbals, and strings.

Randall Thompson was born in New York City in 1899, He received his B.A. and M.A. from Harvard University. His awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship and that of the American Academy in Rome, as well as the Eastman Publication Award, He taught at Wellesley and at the University of California; was Director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia; head of the Department of Music at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Composition at Princeton University.

SYMPHONY NO. 2 was composed from July 1930 to September 1931. It received its first performance at an American Composers' Concert on March 24, 1932, Howard Hanson conducting. It was first performed in New York by Bruno Walter and the New York Philharmonic on November 2, 1933 and since has been widely performed. Lawrence Gilman writing in the Herald-Tribune said, The important point about this symphony is that he has really succeeded in keeping the music simple, unforced, unaffected. He has made use of popular idioms, melodic and rhythmic, and his manipulation of these is civilized and craftsmanlike. He has not hesitated at times to be obvious, he has not strained; he has not constricted his fancy and his feeling; he has not been afraid to sound quite different from Schoenberg. His music has humor and warmth and pleasantness; many will find it agreeable and solacing."

Thompson said of his symphony, "It is based on no program, either literary or spiritual. It is not cyclical. I wanted to write four contrasting movements separate and distinct, which together should convey a sense of balance and completeness."

"I have not used all the instruments in every movement. Limiting the percussion to cymbals and kettledrums may seem to be a curious twist for a contemporary composer. I have been sparing in my use of percussive punctuation in an attempt to make the music itself intrinsically rhythmic."


"I. ALLEGRO, E minor; 3/4 time. The movement runs from beginning to end without change in tempo. The principal theme is announced immediately by the horns, forte, and answered by the trumpets. From this motive is derived a series of rhythmic figures which form the toccata- like background of the entire movement. The subsidiary theme (G minor, oboes, English horn, and bassoon) is of a more reticent nature, but the celli accompany it in a persistent rhythm. "The development section begins quietly, and forms a gradual crescendo, at the apex of which the first theme returns in an ominous fortissimo against a counter-rhythm on the kettledrums. A more extended transition leads to a sinister presentation of the second theme (C minor, muted trumpets answered by bassoon and clarinets antiphonally). At the close, a major version of the second theme in augmentation is sounded fortissimo by the horns and trumpets against the continuous pulse of the strings. The movement subsides, apparently to end in the major. An abrupt minor chord brings it to a close.

II. LARGO, C major 4/4 time. The violins play a warm, quiet melody against pizzicato chords in the celli. A contrasting melody is sung by the oboe. The movement is not long, but its mood is concentrated. It ends simply, on a C major chord with lowered seventh.

III. VIVACE, 7/4 time. Scherzo with trio. The first section begins in G minor and ends in D minor. The trio (Capriccioso, 6/8 and 9/8 time) progresses from B major to G major. The first section returns transposed. Now beginning in C minor and ending in G minor, it serves as a kind of extended "subdominant answer" to its former presentation. There is a short coda making an intensified use of material from the trio.

IV. ANDANTE MODERATO—ALLEGRO CON SPIRITO—LARGAMENTE, E major. The slow sections which begin and end this movement serve to frame the Allegro, a modified rondo.
"The theme of the Allegro is a diminuation of the theme of the first and last sections. The Largamente employs for the first time the full sonorities of the orchestra in a sustained assertion of the prinicpal melody."


FRANKIE AND JOHNNY was originally composed on commission from Ruth Page, and then presented by her in collaboration with the Chicago Federal Theater. It was completed in March, 1938 and first produced at the Great Northern Theater in Chicago, June 20, 1938. It is scored for 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 3 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, piano, timpani, percussion and strings. Scheduled to run for a few nights only, the work created a sensation and ran for six weeks through traditionally unremuneraive July. In 1945 the Ballet Ruse de Monte Carlo bought the ballet, and for a number of seasons FRANKIE AND JOHNNY was an established work in their repertoire. Alleged "extremes" in the choreography created a problem with censors in certain communities, and eventually the pressure won out: the work was dropped. It was resuscitated, however, in Paris in May 1950. There it was the subject of a typical French artistic scandale. The adherents of Serge Lifar used the performance to demonstrate their anger at the treatment he had received in America, and the next morning the New York Herald-Tribune and other New York papers were delighted to report that at last an American work had received the "chair-throwing" treatment that had been reserved until then for such revolutionary works as Le Sacre du Printemps and L'Apres-mmidi d'un Faune. After the premiere, counter-demonstrations began. The famous artist Le Corbusier wrote a panegyric for the press, and the ballet was performed 20 times in the month.

Formally, FRANKIE AND JOHNNY consists of an introduction and a suite of seven dances described by the composer as follows:
  1. STOMP (The doings around town)
  2. BLUES (A duet between Frankie and Johnny)
  3. RAG I (The Barroom scene; Johnny goes off with Nellie Bly; Frankie comes looking for him; the local denizens help, Nellie and Johnny get away)
  4. RAG II (The bartender's dance. The bartender tells Frankie what's what, in the meantime offering himself as a substitute)
  5. TUNE (Frankie whips herself into a frenzy and goes off to get her gun)
  6. FOX-TROT (Frankie catches Johnny with Nellie Bly and shoots Johnny)
  7. ONE-STEP (The funeral. Everybody gets roaring drunk and Frankie and Nellie end up crying on one another's shoulders)
Throughout the piece, a trio of Salvation Army lasses wanders through the scenes beating cymbal, tambourine and bas-drum, and commenting on the action. At the end, they get three glasses of beer and sing the final lyrics with their feet on the coffin, as if it were a bar-rail. The whole is an astoundingly virtuosic orchestral setting of the familiar American folk tune. In the recorded version, the Blues is omitted. Otherwise, this is the complete music used for the ballet.


Jerome Moross was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., August 1, 1913. He was educated in New York public and high schools and has a large number of newspaper clippings that testify he was the youngest student ever to graduate from a Metropolitan school. He graduated from New York University at 18. During his Senior year at college, he also held a Juilliard fellowship. Moross' works for the stage have brought him the major portion of his recognition to date. The first was his score for "Parade", a revue produced by the Theater Guild in 1935. A ballet, "American Pattern", was produced at the Chicago Opera in 1937. His most successful work so far has been his contributions to "Ballet Ballads", a folk dance production staged on Broadway in 1948 by the American National Theater and Academy. It has been performed since in Los Angeles, Cleveland, and in dozens of little theaters and colleges throughout the country. His most-performed piece, however, is his score for Garcia Lorca's drama, "Blood Wedding", which has been unusually popular with little theater groups. Moross also completed "The Golden Apple", a full-length work for the theater which was produced on Broadway in 1952. Mr. Moross has also written several classic film scores which include "The Proud Rebel" (1958), "The Cardinal" (1963), "The War Lord" (1965), and of course his most beloved work "The Big Country" (1958).

Moross' activity has been most pronounced in the fields of theater, radio and films, but he has not omitted formal concerts works. His First Symphony (1942) was premiered by Sir Thomas Beecham and the Seattle Symphony in 1944. His "Tall Story for Orchestra" was commissioned by the Columbia Broadcasting System and performed over that network in 1938, with Howard Barlow conducting. Other works for orchestra include Paeans, Biguine and The Wolf Waltzes.

Track List & Credits:

Norman Dello Joio
  1. Epigraph for Orchestra
Vienna Symphony Orchestra - Hans Swarowsky, conductor

Randall Thompson
Symphony No. 2
  1. I. Allegro
  2. II. Largo
  3. III. Vivace
  4. IV. Andante moderato - Allegro con Spirito
Vienna Symphony Orchestra - Dean Dixon, conductor

Jerome Moross
  1. Frankie and Johnny
Vienna Symphony Orchestra - Walter Hendl, conductor

Download Links: Enjoy the Music, or here.

Other Recordings:

Norman Dello Joio
Randall Thompson
Jerome Moross

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