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Thread: Ruggles, Carl (1876-1971)

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    Senior Member science's Avatar
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    Default Ruggles, Carl (1876-1971)

    Like a lot of people, I only know Ruggles' famous work "Sun-treader."

    But I looked him up on wikipedia and found:

    He wrote finely crafted pieces using "dissonant counterpoint", a term coined by Charles Seeger to describe Ruggles' music. His method of atonal counterpoint was based on a non-serial technique of avoiding repeating a pitch class until a generally fixed number such as eight pitch classes intervened. He wrote painstakingly slowly so his output is quite small.

    ... Especially later in life, Ruggles was also a prolific painter, selling hundreds of paintings during his lifetime.
    Is anyone out there a big fan of this guy's work? Any favorite recordings?
    Liberty for wolves is death to the lambs.

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    Senior Member Ukko's Avatar
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    A "pitch class", eh? MTT recorded Ruggles' Really Big Hits (my designation, not MTT's).

    Ruggles' music is worth 3 tries - at least. For me it took that long for the music to push the blockages aside. Powerful stuff, for all that.
    I spent a fortune on deodorant before I realized that people don't like me anyway.

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    Like you, I'm only familiar with Sun-Treader. It took me a long time to find this work tolerable. I have to admit I still don't care all that much for it. I have a hard time understanding its structure. I heard a few other works of Ruggles's many years ago, but they didn't really inspire me to listen to his music more often.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I just got hold of this CD.


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    I only know of him through Gould, who apparently was fond of Ruggles and played piano transcriptions of his work in concert.

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    Yes, starthrower, they finally released that on CD. I had the vinyl. There's a picture of Tilson-Thomas with Ruggles that is priceless. He's the Thomas Hart Benton of American music.

    To understand Ruggles, it's similar to Ives, in that they used dissonance for its own sake; they loved dissonance. Nothing high-falootin' about Ruggles; just a powerful expression, uncompromised!





    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-25-2014 at 17:46.

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    The 1980 vinyl set was my first glimpse of a continent of classical music that would never get played on WQXR.

    Before the recent CD issue, the only place to hear this music was a vinyl rip hosted on the Internet Archive. I believe it can still be downloaded from there.

    "Strong masculine music", as his buddy Ives said. It enriches me.

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    Today I gave Sun Treader its first spin. It's a work very uneasy, dissonant, yet it has an agreeable dissonance (at least bearable), and very loud! There is a baleful mood throughout, helped by a strong percussion section. It's not regularly my kind of music, but I enjoyed it largely. Very approachable overall.

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    I keep seeing the name and confusing him with the actor Charles Ruggles.

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    Samuel Andreyev has an analysis on youtube:



    Great channel if you haven't come across it yet.

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