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2021 Listening Project - Jan 22

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Charles Ives
Holidays Symphony
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor

A big question for me with this piece (and other Ives' pieces) is how can we fully understand and appreciate what he is doing, unless we are familiar with all of his source material? I like the way that familiar tunes come in and out of "focus" in this piece, but I suspect that there is a *lot* going on here that I am missing because the source material is unfamiliar to me. It raises the question of whether this is actually the case for *all* music; are there any pieces of music that can truly "stand on their own", and be fully appreciated and enjoyed without any knowledge of the "musical context" in which they were written/composed/conceived? That are "good" independent of culture? I think that there *is* such music, but Ives' makes me wonder.

In any event, even though this is a bit "out there" for me, I liked it. In the first movement (Washington's Birthday) I liked the middle section, even when it got "busy". I loved the big marching band entrance at the end of the second (Decoration Day), and the bombastic third movement. And the big choral stuff at the end of the final movement (Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day).