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Mussgorsky and Ives

Mussgorsky and Ives

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Published by Tony Powell
Nationalistic interpretation
Nationalistic interpretation

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Tony Powell on Mar 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Tony Powell
A Nation’s Pride Shown in Music
Greatness! My chest slightly rises, my ears become more attune, and I feel a sense of pride well up from my chest, the emotions I experienced after listening to the first twentyseconds of a classical piece
by Modest Mussorgsky,
The Great Gate of Kiev 
. I personallyinterpret the piece as a story being told, a very passionate story, with dramatic tales of triumphand accomplishment. The main melody exuded a steadfast confidence facilitated by multipleinstruments in melodic crescendos at a slow tempo. This is symbolic of introducing a hero orheroes to the story. The main melody
attention. The large, low pitched, tympanidrums convey a certainty and declare,
Listen to what I have to say,
Clearly,Mussorgsky is attempting to show the awesome power of Russia through a great musicalpresentation of an architectural cachet.At the beginning of the second movement, in contrast to the introduction, a small groupof soft, slow tempo clarinets and bassoons play in melody in an effort to convey important,factual information to justify the grandiose introduction. Now that the introduction has been justified, the third movement boasts the full weight of the brass section coming in at low pitchconsonance with the tympani drums to re-emphasize the great importance of the story. Highnote, allegro violins accompany the slow tempo of the brass and drums to signify a tale of sophisticated greatness in which few people have the skills to rival. This might have beenMussorgsky attempting to portray the level of intricacy in the design of The Gate of Kiev. At the
end of the third movement, the powerful refrain is brought back exhibiting Rondo form in thepiece.Clarinets and bassoons return once more in the fourth movement to tell again theirback story and disposition in which the piece is about. A dreadful style of tone changes in thefifth movement is painted through an attention grabbing church bell and low, steady beat tubasthat convey an ominous presence and an underlying antagonist in the piece. Mussorgsky mighthave been trying to convey impending danger to the Gate of Kiev. Before the low, forebodingbeat can begin to gain cadence, woodwinds, violins, trumpets, and eventually bells arrive andoverpower the lower note instruments through forte crescendo. To me, this represents evilbeing subjugated, and good (Russia) prevailing over adversity. In the last movement, therefrain is played slow and forte to once again show the great power and immutability of thehero or heroes in this grand demonstration.Having listened to this great piece, I find it sad that Modest Mussorgsky, who came fromhumble beginnings, died at a young age, not leaving many musical works for the world to enjoy.
In the late 1800’s, a friend of Mussorgsky’s
,Viktor Hartmann, died of an aneurism. Hartmannhad many great works of art, which Mussorgsky displayed in an Exhibition which later inspiredhim to create ten musical pieces to comprise
Pictures at an Exhibition.
Thankfully, in the midtwentieth century, the musical world fell in love with the 10
The Great Gate of Kiev,
andrecognized all the hard work Mussorgsky had done to honor Russia and the late, great artist,Viktor Hartmann.
Another nationalistic piece which evokes a sense of pride, although with a dash of bewilderment, would most certainly be
Putnam’s Camp
, by Charles Ives. This piece is thesecond piece in a set of three pieces written by Ives in an effort to delineate American society.
Putnam’s Camp
, in ABA form, is supposed to represent a boy walking through a 4
of July picnicin Connecticut, listening to multiple bands, falling asleep and dreaming, then waking up. At theintroduction, the dissonant, forte melodies of two marching bands clash against each other andreminded me of a powerful, disorganized U.S. government. Throughout the first section, someportions of the two bands seem to come into harmony, only to be immediately disrupted bydissonant piano, trombones, flutes and more. The two marching bands are paired against eachother through unique, powerful melodies that contrast each other so sharply, it appears theyare responding to each other with a series of playful, patriotic, musical retorts. Towards theend of the first section, the boy falls asleep as the orchestra slowly decrescendos whileindividual instruments begin to die off, bringing a close the dissonant clash of bands. While theboy dreams, the beginning of the second section starts off slowly with an underlying, dissonantbeat of violins that invokes a growing tension in me that foreshadows eventful beginnings. Thisentire section reminds me of waking up outside in tents during my enlistment in the Marines,lying in a sleeping bag listening to the growing bustle of people starting off the morning. Atrumpet lightly interjects to represent reveille: syncopated violins mimic showers turning onand off, an oboe melody representing nature, and finally as camp is finishing up the morningactivities, everything begins to go quiet. Triumphantly, as usual, officers arrive in the form of abrass melody barking orders and detailing the activities of the day before the General arrives.The violins, cymbals, flutes and the rest of the orchestra respond to these orders with a variety

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