Tone Poem Tuesday

 This one I owe to YouTube, which served this up as a completely random suggestion based on however their algorithms work.

In 1950, conductor Arturo Toscanini had plans for a large-scale symphonic suite inspired by New York City, but he never got the project finished. Before the idea foundered, though, he commissioned a part of it from Duke Ellington, who is only one of the great jazz musicians of all time–in fact, Ellington might well be the greatest jazz musician of all time.

The result of this was a symphonic work titled, simply, Harlem. Ellington intended the work as a musical tour of Harlem, exploring its character through musical interludes and sonic pictures. The work is jazzy, obviously, but unmistakably urban in its sound, as it takes us from a bluesy beginning to bustling streetscapes to percussion dances to mournful funereal passages. It’s quite a work, and I had never heard it until YouTube’s algorithm suggested it to me.

This performance is by my own local band, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Here is Duke Ellington’s Harlem.

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One Response to Tone Poem Tuesday

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    Huh. I'd never heard that either, and I have a fair representation of Ellington in my CD and esp vinyl collection. Good stuff.

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