Two Stabs at the Universe

Richard Taruskin

in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2008 | ISBN: 9780520249776
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520942790 | DOI:
Two Stabs at the Universe

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This chapter focuses on Charles Ives's legendary “Universe” Symphony, a performing version of which has been produced by composer Larry Austin, with the help of the College–Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati—the Cincinnati Philharmonia and the C.C.M. Percussion Ensemble. The “Universe” Symphony contains three sections or movements played without pause or significant variation in tempo. The first section relates to the past which includes the formation of water and mountains, the second section relates to the present which includes the formation of earth and evolution in nature and humanity, whereas the third section is about the future which is related to heaven and the rise of all to the spiritual. This symphony is directly in the line of European symphonic transcendentalism and evokes sensations of unfathomable or ungraspable space because of the use of indefinite, long-held tones or spiraling figures at the threshold of audibility.

Keywords: Universe' Symphony; Charles Ives; Larry Austin; Cincinnati Philharmonia; C.C.M. Percussion Ensemble; European symphonic transcendentalism

Chapter.  3854 words. 

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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