Compact Discoveries®
a series of one-hour radio programs produced, written, hosted, and edited
by Fred Flaxman

©2014 by Fred Flaxman

Program 231
"American Indians"

MUSIC: excerpt from Edward MacDowell’s “Village Festival” from Suite No. 2, Op. 48, “Indian” performed by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa [Naxos 8.559075, Track 10]  [over the following]

Hello and welcome to Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman. The next hour will be devoted to Romantic period music inspired by “American Indians.” We’ll begin with the Hiawatha Overture by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, then hear Hiawatha, a tone poem for orchestra by Frederick Delius, and conclude with the “Indian Suite,” Suite Number 2, Opus 48, by Edward MacDowell. These are all beautiful pieces that I feel are not as well known as they should be. They’ll be true Compact Discoveries for most of my listeners.

MUSIC: Fades out

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor lived only 37 years: from 1875 until 1912, when he died of pneumonia. He was born in London, England. His father was a Negro physician from Sierra Leone, West Africa. His mother was an English woman. When his father’s medical practice failed, his father returned to Africa, deserting young Samuel and his mother. But the boy’s disadvantaged upbringing did not stifle his love of music. His violin studies progressed to the point where he was able to give his first public recital at the age of eight. He eventually entered the Royal College of Music where he enrolled as a violin student. But in the same year, 1890, his first important composition was published. Before completing his studies at the Royal College in 1897 he won composition prizes two years in a row.

Although Coleridge-Taylor crossed the Atlantic in 1904, 1906, and 1910 to direct performances of his music, and even considered emigrating to the U.S., his interest in Longfellow’s famous poem, Hiawatha, began before any of those trips and continued afterwards.

His Hiawatha Overture, Opus 30, which we’ll hear now, was written in 1899. His career was firmly launched a year before that with Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, and his Hiawatha Ballet Music, written in 1912, turned out to be his last composition.

The full title of the original complete score was The Song of Hiawatha.  The most famous aria in this large choral work was "On Away Awake Beloved," which formed part of the repertoire of almost every concert tenor for the following 50 years. But this song is not part of the Overture.

Here, then, is the Hiawatha Overture by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor as performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra, Dublin, conducted by Adrian Leaper on a Naxos compact disc.

MUSIC: Coleridge-Taylor: Hiawatha Overture, Op. 30, performed by the RTE Concert Orchestra, Dublin, conducted by Adrian Leaper [Naxos 8.22356, track 1]  [11:19]

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha Overture. Adrian Leaper conducted the RTE Concert Orchestra, Dublin.

The English composer, Frederick Delius, was born in 1862 into a prosperous mercantile family. He resisted attempts to recruit him to commerce, but was nevertheless sent to Florida in the United States in 1884 to manage an orange plantation. There he soon neglected his managerial duties, and in 1886 returned to Europe. After a brief period of formal musical study in Germany, Delius embarked on a full-time career as a composer in France. He and his wife lived there for the rest of their lives, except during World War One.

Delius’s first orchestral score was his Florida Suite, written in Leipzig after his two-year stint in America. Hiawatha was his second orchestral work, also composed in Leipzig. Later Delius removed groups of pages from two sections of his bound manuscript. It is not known why, nor is it known if he ever produced any rewritten pages in substitution. For this reason, the work remained unplayable as a whole until, with the support of the Delius Trust, Robert Threlfall closed the gaps by using material entirely taken from Delius’s own score.

Threlfall writes: “If the result is somewhat shorter overall than Delius’s original scheme, it may indeed be that his intention had been to compress the argument by eliminating some of the more repetitive earlier matter.” This is the first recording of this version. David Lloyd-Jones conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra in this Dutton Digital compact disc.

MUSIC: Delius: Hiawatha, tone poem for orchestra, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones [Dutton Digital CDLX 7226, Tracks 1 and 2]  [17:21]

Frederick Delius’s Hiawatha, tone poem for orchestra.  The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by David Lloyd-Jones.

You are listening to music inspired by “American Indians” on this hour of Compact Discoveries. I’m your guide, Fred Flaxman.

[optional one-minute break not included in the program timing]

Edward MacDowell is the only American composer represented on this program devoted to music influenced by “American Indians.”  His Indian Suite uses material attributed to various tribes. The five movements are called “Legend,” “Love Song,” “In War-time,” “Dirge,” and “Village Festival.”

MacDowell was particularly proud of the “Dirge” section. He wrote: “Of all my music, the Dirge in the Indian pleases me most. It affects me deeply and did when I was writing it. In it a woman laments the death of her son; but to me it seemed to express a world-sorrow.”

In this Naxos American Classics compact disc, the Ulster Orchestra is led by Takuo Yuasa.

MUSIC: MacDowell: Suite No. 2, Op. 48, “Indian” performed by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa [Naxos 8.559075, Tracks 6, 8, 9, and 10]

Four of the five movements of Edward MacDowell’s Suite No. 2, Op. 48, the “Indian Suite,” performed by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by Takuo Yuasa.

And that concludes this Compact Discoveries hour devoted to music inspired by “American Indians.”  This is Fred Flaxman. Thanks for listening.

ANNOUNCER (Tana Flaxman): Compact Discoveries is made possible in part by an anonymous donor from Palm Beach, Florida. And by the financial support of Isabel and Marvin Leibowitz. And by ArkivMusic dot com, the online store for classical music CDs, DVDs, downloads, and over 10,000 on-demand reissued titles. That’s A-r-k-i-v Music dot com.


Program Ends at 59:00