Orchestral Set No. 2
III. From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose
Manuscript score, 1915
The music of Charles Ives is full personal meaning and often reflects deep emotions: nostalgia for his boyhood in Danbury, memories of his father and the generation that fought in the Civil War, his admiration for the writings of the Transcendentalists, and his love for the common man. He frequently expressed these feelings by using borrowed tunes—quotations from hymns, popular songs, and folk music—often fragmentary, sometimes deeply hidden in interior lines of complex musical passages.
Ives considered From Hanover Square North … to be one of his best orchestral movements, and many agree. Although the manuscript displayed here is a revision from 1925, the work was composed in 1915, inspired by Ives’s strong feelings and the response of the people on May 7th, the day the news reached New York that a German submarine had sunk the British liner Lusitania. Ives wrote:
I remember, going downtown to business, the people on the streets and on the elevated train had something in their faces that was not the usual something. Everybody who came into the office, whether they spoke about the disaster or not, showed a realization of seriously experiencing something … Leaving the office and going uptown about six o’clock, I took the Third Avenue “L” at Hanover Square Station. As I came on the platform, there was quite a crowd waiting for the trains … and while waiting there, a hand-organ or hurdy-gurdy was playing in the street below. Some workmen sitting on the side of the tracks began to whistle the tune, and others began to hum the refrain. A workman with a shovel over his shoulder came on the platform and joined in the chorus, and the next man, a Wall Street banker with white spats and a cane, joined in it, and finally it seemed to me that everybody was singing this tune … as a natural outlet for what their feelings had been going through all day long. There was a feeling of dignity all through this. The hand-organ man seemed to sense this and wheeled the organ nearer the platform and kept it up fortissimo (and the chorus sounded out as though every man in New York must be joining in it). Then the first train came in and everybody crowded in, and the song gradually died out, but the effect on the crowd still showed. Almost nobody talked—the people acted as though they might be coming out of a church service. In going uptown, occasionally little groups would start singing or humming the tune.
The tune was a nineteenth-century hymn that Ives had heard his father play many times: “In the Sweet By and By.” Ives captured the moment with a quiet opening, building with brief fragments of the hymn, and culminating in a swelling of sound reflecting the noise of the city, with the majestic trumpets and horns finally quoting the substance of the hymn, and then fading away.
“Tom Sails Away”
Manuscript score, 1917
Another work from the war years, the song “Tom Sails Away,” Ives composed in the fall of 1917 to his own text. It is a moving and impressionistic expression of a sister’s feelings as her brother leaves for the war. The sorrow at parting and the fear that he might not return, are overwhelmed by the memory of a spring day years earlier. In the first line, the lyric “Scenes from my childhood” and the tune are both derived from the first strain of “The Old Oaken Bucket,” a popular song that Ives had learned as a boy. Then the song gathers momentum and sound, culminating at “But today! Tom sailed away.” The song quietly concludes quoting Cohan’s “Over there, over there, over there . . .”
The recording by soprano Helen Boatwright and pianist John Kirkpatrick was the first made of this song and fourteen other Ives songs. Helen Boatwright came to New Haven with her husband Howard Boatwright (Yale School of Music, BM 1947, MM 1948), who enrolled as a student and later joined the faculty. She soon developed an active career as a singer, singing with Yale’s Collegium Musicum, under Paul Hindemith. John Kirkpatrick’s 1939 performance of Ives’s Concord Sonata for piano at New York’s Town Hall had brought national prominence to Ives’s music. Boatwright and Kirkpatrick met at the artist’s retreat Yaddo in 1946 and began performing together in the early 1950s. Helen later recalled their 1953 concert at Jonathan Edwards College as the first performance of Ives’s music since his graduation. (One must note the exception: “The Bells of Yale” was published in Yale Melodies in 1903 and was surely performed on campus many times). Kirkpatrick would later begin organizing Ives’s music manuscripts, creating the first catalog in 1955. He joined the School of Music faculty in 1968 and was named curator of the Charles Ives Papers. The recording engineer, Richard Burns, was also a Yale graduate.
“Tom Sails Away” was recorded at St. Thomas Church in New Haven in August 1954, just a few months after Ives’s death on May 19. Boatwright, Kirkpatrick, and Burns had the luxury of time: they worked on the album of 24 songs over five days, recording three takes of each song, and then listening to each take, before deciding whether to use one or make another, and then going to the next song. In an interview preserved in Oral History of American Music, Helen said, “I learned so much about being a musician from John in that regard. Every song had to be thought out so carefully.” Both performers were among the first to perform Ives’s songs, and their mastery is reflected in this beautiful performance.
Letter to Monty Woolley
This unusually fearful letter from Cole Porter to Monty Woolley (Yale Class of 1911) dates from September 1918, while Porter was in France. He arrived in Paris in the fall of 1917 to work for the Duryea Relief organization, which was founded by an American socialite, Nina Larre Smith Duryea. He delivered supplies to devastated villages such as Amiens. By January 1918 Porter was attached to the headquarters of Air Service Lines of Communication of Expeditionary Forces (also known as American Aviation Headquarters). On April 20, 1918 he enlisted in the First Foreign Regiment at the Central Recruiting Office of the Seine, assigned to the 32nd Field Artillery Regiment. It is perhaps this regiment that Porter casually referred to as the Foreign Legion, a comment that has led to confusion:
I went to a little office in Paris for my physical examination after having asked to enlist. There was an officer of the Legion there and several soldiers. The officer looked up my name and then asked me to get on the scale. After I had been weighed he said to me, “Now you’re in the Foreign Legion.” That was all there was to it and afterwards I was sent immediately to Limoges to go through preliminary training before being sent to the front.
The French records show that Porter was detailed to the Artillery School at Fontainebleau, where he was designated “aspirant” upon graduation. A Chicago Tribune article from August 18, 1918 mentions him among the graduates, noting the other 600 were French. Porter enrolled in the 15th Artillery Regiment, 1st Battery on September 20th. We may presume this letter was written shortly afterwards. The 15th Artillery Regiment had served with distinction during the longest battle of the war, the Battle of Verdun (February 21-December 18, 1916), and at the end of the war was in Alsace, where the French and German armies had engaged in trench warfare since 1915. Porter’s next assignment came after the war’s conclusion, on January 23, 1919, when he was detailed to the Bureau of the Military Attaché of the United States. He was discharged on April 17, 1919.
While Porter’s war service record doesn’t indicate conclusively that he was at the front, if we believe what he writes in the letter, he was close enough to require a gas mask. Perhaps like so many veterans of the First World War, Porter didn’t care to describe the horrors of the war, especially not to a writer for Town and Country magazine or on the Ed Sullivan Show. The accounts by friends and fellow Yalies of parties in Paris, of the portable zither with the piano keyboard that Porter brought to France, Monty Woolley’s description of variations in Porter’s uniforms, and the confusion of reports of Porter’s various appointments have led some to discount his service entirely. But the biographies by Eells and McBrien both give credit, and this letter provides additional confirmation that Porter’s time in France was not all parties and games.
Horatio Parker (music)
Brian Hooker (words)
A. D. 1919 (Op. 84)
Manuscript score, June 1, 1919
At Commencement on June 15, 1919, Yale commemorated the service of her sons during World War I. 9,464 Yale men served in the military, and an additional 384 in the Red Cross and Y.M.C.A. Some 209 had lost their lives, and many more still suffered from wounds or disease. This event was the occasion for the first performance of A. D. 1919: A Commemorative Ode, with words by Brian Hooker (Yale Class of 1902, M.A. 1904, Hon. M.A. 1912) and music by Dean Horatio Parker of the School of Music. Parker conducted the combined forces of the New Haven Symphony, the Choral Art Society, and the Yale Glee Club, with Grace Kerns as soloist.
Hooker’s A.D. 1919 is an ode in eleven stanzas. Parker set each stanza to a different musical theme. He was a superb craftsman in the romantic tradition: one can hear the influence of Mendelssohn and Wagner, as well as quotations from the bugle calls “Reveille” and “Taps.” In the audio excerpt, we have given only the ending, which combines a reprise of the martial opening, joyful at the return of veterans, contrasting choral passages by women and men, and concludes with a soft and solemn passage honoring the fallen. Both words and music received high praise, but the work is little performed today. Our recording is from a 1959 performance by the combined forces of the Connecticut College Choir, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Orchestra, under the direction of Fenno Heath ’50, M.M. ’52.
Parker had studied with George Chadwick at the New England Conservatory, and then with Josef Rheinberger at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. It was in Munich that he met Anna Ploessl, a piano student who became his wife. Parker was the first Dean of the Yale School of Music, and he taught the History of Music and Free Composition. Charles Ives (Yale Class of 1898), whose music also appears in this exhibition, was his most famous student. Parker founded and conducted the New Haven Symphony and oversaw an expansion of Yale’s music program and facilities. The latter included the building of Woolsey Hall and Sprague Hall, as well as the installation of the Newberry Organ.
The last three years of Parker’s life were marked by illness, and he worried about his sons-in-law, serving in the allied military, as well as his wife’s relatives in Germany. Despite the anti-German sentiment in the country, Parker would tease his wife by speaking loudly in German in movie theaters. A.D. 1919 proved to be his last large composition as well as his last performance as a conductor; his health worsened during the summer, and he died at the end of the year.
Parker’s daughter Isabel Parker Semler recalled her father’s reaction to the “wonderfully beautiful poem”: “How can I write music for this? It is all there,” Parker said. “It was written so that every man Jack in the audience might understand it.”
Excerpt from the poem by Brian Hooker,
set to music by Horatio Parker
Your hands confirm our manhood,
Your hearts hold women true,
And the wide eyes of children
Are clean because of you.
Through desperate wars undaunted
Our future arms retain
Your gift of fear confronted,
Your gift of conquered pain.
Stronger when foes dispute you,
Wiser when fools deny,
We who must live salute you
Who have found strength to die!
Bring flowers they loved! Let trumpets
Sound, and the feast be spread!
Shall not earth live the fairer
For their sake who are dead?
Not ashes nor any sorrow
Be borne for such as they—
Give them the golden morrow
They dwelt in yesterday!
Seeing our days inherit
What joys they dared forego,
Surely they see and share it—
Surely they know—they know!
There’s a clamour of many voices.
There’s a murmur of marching feet,
And a music that rejoices
Where the ranks march down the street:
Friends with the hearts of strangers,
Boys with the eyes of men,
And souls that have done with dangers
And slept, and risen again.
Among them, above them, around them,
The unseen legions throng, —
With the gold of our dreams we have crowned them,
And their robes are the sound of our song.
Therefore with banners burning,
With lights and with garlands dressed,
Honour to these returning—
Honour to those at rest.