Americana An American Fantasy The biggest and best of America's music from the National Anthem to Copland's stunning 'Fanfare for the Common Man' and some of Sousa's famous marches, including 'The Stars and Stripes Forever'. A program which evokes, through famous tunes and themes, the wide open spaces of the American landscape and the optimism of the American people. The grand old town of Como lies 'neath the resting hills, While its waters run on daily, in quiet rippling rills; And its sights and scenes are glorious - in fact, are simply grand, But there's one thing does excel all else - it's the music of the band. From a newspaper in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, 1898 Local pride in the town band ran high in America a hundred years or more ago: and still does in many places today. John Philip Sousa's professional band of the last few years of the nineteenth century couldn't have existed without a huge network of amateur bands and music making throughout the smaller towns and cities of America. Indeed, there has been music-making in America since the pioneering days and it has led, via a combination of commercial development and some truly great academic institutions, to a superb repertoire of memorable and important tunes and songs, and some of the world's greatest composers. Sousa's music is particularly famous for its splendid tunes, many of which have found their way into the hearts and mind of the American people. Many of the other tunes on this album are of similar import, from Copland's famous 'Fanfare for the Common Man', with its bold and brassy trumpets and percussion to Robeson's 'Shenandoah', one of the most famous recordings of the early twentieth century: an iconic song from an iconic individual. Anton Dvorak arrived in New York in the middle of the nineteenth century. The American musical scene which he found - and helped to develop through his own teaching and administration - was to inspire him to produce some of his most beautiful music, including the lovely 'Largo' from the 'New World Symphony'. The opening melody of this movement, derived at least in part from songs which Dvorak heard while in America, is known as 'Going home'. The central section of this movement, though, is of equal beauty to this opening melody, and it reminds us of the quiet open spaces of the American plains and wilderness which play such a crucial part in America's cultural heritage. Aaron Copland picks up on this concept with his depiction of simple American life of the past in his ballet 'Rodeo'. This is music of such optimism and thus a true piece of 'Americana'. The 'Saturday Night Waltz' has a simple perfection about which is quite compelling. Likewise the music of Ferde Grofé, whose 'Grand Canyon' Suite encapsulates the splendor and majesty of the rugged American outback, while alluding to its most common mode of transport, the horse and even to its night sky. Samuel Barber's 'Adagio' has come to mean so much to so many. Firstly as a piece for quartet, then a choral version of a psalm, then as an orchestral piece, and finally made famous by its place in the film 'Platoon' with its tragic and frightening imagery of America at war. Albert von Tilzer and Victor Herbert come from the same mould as each other: popular music composers whose skill and technical wizardry with an orchestra allowed their to cross over into the world of classical music and the concert hall. Tilzer's 'Ball game' is an absolute classic, filled with atmosphere - helped of course by a splendid rendition of the National Anthem. Herbert's 'American Fantasy' covers just about famous and beloved tune you could wish for, and does it with a grace and ease which is a pleasure to listen to.