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Karel Husa - "Apotheosis of this Earth"

June 7, 2011

Today's post continues our look at the wind music of Karel Husa, with his Apotheosis of this Earth.

The piece was commissioned in 1970 by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) and is dedicated to Dr. William Revelli, then Conductor of Bands at the University of Michigan, to celebrate his retirement and '...in recognition of his devoted service to music, to education, and to his colleagues.' UMWO will be performing this piece at our second concert on November 4th. Much like his Music for Prague 1968 is relevant in today's world of civil unrest, Apotheosis is relevant to today's move toward a better understanding of how to take care of our planet. Below is the composer's program note and here is a link to where you can listen to clips of this serious work, scored for full wind orchestra. (Those of you on the UMD campus can listen to full recordings on Naxos).

 

The composition of Apotheosis of this Earth was motivated by the present desperate stage of mankind and its immense problems with everyday killings, war, hunger, extermination of fauna, huge forest fires, and critical contamination of the whole environment.

 

In the first movement, "Apotheosis," the earth first approaches as a point of light in the universe. Our memory and imagination approach it in perhaps the same way as it appeared to the astronauts returning from the moon. The earth grows larger and larger, and we can even remember some of its tragic moments (as struck by the xylophone near the end of the movement).

 

The second movement, "Tragedy of Destruction," deals with the actual brutalities of man against nature, leading to the destruction of our planet, perhaps by radioactive explosion. The earth dies as a savagely, mortally wounded creature.

 

The last movement is a "Postscript", full of the realization that so little is left to be said: the earth has been pulverized into the universe, the voices scattered into space. Toward the end, these voices -- at first computer-like and mechanical -- unite into the words "this beautiful earth", simply said, warm and filled with regret…and one of so many questions comes to our minds: "Why have we let this happen?"

 

-- Karel Husa

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