Berger, Arthur. (1912-2003)

Ideas of Order

Boston: 1952. First edition. Vintage oversize dyeline full orchestral score, 13 x 17 inches. 66 pp. Dedicated to Dimitri Mitropoulos.

An unusual score from the influential American composer, critic and teacher, one of the first to write about Charles Ives and the first to write a book on the music of Aaron Copland. "Ideas of Order" was commissioned in 1952 by conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos, who gave its premiere with the New York Philharmonic the following year. The composer writes:

"The title [of Ideas of Order] reflects a devotion to the American poet Wallace Stevens, which dates back to my days as a graduate student in music at Harvard in the mid-1930's. It was around the time that his second book, 'Ideas of Order', was published by Alfred A. Knopf. Since my work for Mitropoulos was neither program music nor in any standard form, I sought a neutral name like Composition and thought of almost everything that is common to all music, including an 'order of tones' when I remember Stevens. In his 'Ideas of Order', poet and musician are identified in their quest for ordered arrangement within the realm of imagination as a mode of relief, if only momentary, from our daily involvement with experience ... I sympathize with the motives he attributes to 'Requiring an order beyond speech' -- an order not to be confused with political order, which is its exact antithesis....There is, then, nothing more literal in the connection between the poem and my music than the assumption that as a musician my aim is to order tones. I have done so in this through permutations of three notes that serve not as a motif but as guideposts for choice of melodic lines and harmonies." (2198)


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