Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

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Haiku Wednesday: The Marching Band, A True Story

Aunt Esther exclaimed,
“The high school band’s going by!
Run to the window!”

Now, Aunt Esther is
Not a pillar of wisdom,
…But let’s see the band!

I pictured the horns
Gleaming in the bright sunshine
Blaring to the world.

I felt the drum beat,
The rhythm of marching feet
Proudly passing by.

I heard the tinkling
Of a jaunty xylophone
Or a glockenspiel.

And so we stood there,
Craning necks expectantly…
Then buses went by.

…And she walked away,
Leaving me confused, asking,
“Hey, wait–where’s the band?”

“Oh, they’re heading off
To a state competition
Fifty miles away.

“The newspaper said
They were leaving at this time,
I knew they’d go by.”

Wait; seriously?
Not even a trombone slide
Out the bus window?

Gee, thanks, Aunt Esther.
At least I got to hear them
Playing in my mind.

And now, let’s hear marching bands portrayed by an orchestra.  Here is Charles Ives‘s Putnam’s Camp, Redding, Connecticut, the second movement from Three Places in New England.


Memorial Day

Battlefield memorial, helmet on rifle, World War I

Battlefield memorial, World War I.

Today in the US we commemorate those who have died while serving in the armed forces.

There is an abundance of music written for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Charles Ives’s Decoration Day (what Memorial Day was called at an earlier time in America) incorporates Taps into his depiction of Memorial Day proceedings in New England.  Here is a performance of Decoration Day.

Walt Whitman’s poem Dirge for Two Veterans has been set to music by a number of composers.  Here are links to performances of settings of this poem by Holst, Kurt Weill, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Maurice Ravel wrote Le Tombeau de Couperin, a suite for solo piano in six movements.  Each movement is dedicated to a friend who lost his life in World War I.  A performance of Le Tombeau de Couperin can be found here.

Frank Bridge’s intense Piano Sonata was written in memory of a friend who was killed in World War I.  You can hear it here.

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem was first performed at the consecration of the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed during World War II.  The poignancy of the piece is heightened by the use of the poetry of Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action one week before the end of World War I.  A performance can be found here.  A short documentary on War Requiem from the Royal Opera House can be found here.  A recording of a moving performance at Coventry Cathedral is available on DVD.

Sadly, I’m sure there are other notable works that I’ve omitted with a similar origin.  It is utterly human and noble to try to create beauty from loss.

I salute the bravery of those who serve.

I honor the memory of those we have lost.

Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines Memorial Service

Boots, rifle, dog tags, and kevlar helmet stand in solitude to honor Cpl. Orville Gerena, Lance Cpl. David Parr, and PFC Jacob Spann during a service held by Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, the ground combat element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq Feb. 18, 2006. The three Charlie Company Marines were killed conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province.


Wounded Warriors Family Support

Fisher House Foundation

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)


Image attributions:

Helmet and Rifle, World War I.  Courtesy of Getty Images Hulton Collection.

Helmet and Rifle, 2006, Iraq.  22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit website