By: BY Mike Echo Mike, Michael E. Marotta. (c) Copyright 2001
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The Airborne Symphony by Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964) was recorded
by the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, now on Sony
Classic CD, titled American Masters 2. The U.S. Army commissioned
the Airborne Symphony. Blitzstein began the work in April 1943
and Bernstein premiered it on April 1, 1946. In fact, he
recorded it twice 20 years apart. This recording was made on
October 18, 1966.
Stylistically, the work is modern, an oratory for chorus (with
tenor and baritone soloists) and orchestra. It delivers the
patterns and progressions known from Stravinsky and Copland. The
often dissonant melodies switch and jump and shuffle. This is
not the score to Superman. However, the music is a call, a
celebration, up-lifting and positive, except for the mournful
Ballad of the Cities that cries for Guernica, Rotterdam, Manila,
London, and Leningrad. "This morning I walked through the
streets, after the raid..." The narrator is Orson Wells. "Get
out of bed, young British pilot, come on, go walking on the wind
The Airborne Symphony is a work with 12 movements. From the
Theory of Flight and Mythology to a description of the Enemy and
the Ballad of the Bombardier, the work closes with The Open Sky,
a promise of unlimited future ending with an ominous "Warning!"
Clearly, a refrain of the war just over.
American Masters 2 also presents The Incredible Flutist by Walter
Piston and Prelude for Orchestra by Edward Burlingame Hill.
Tim Page's liner notes appear in English, German, and French.
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