Music Moment: The Grand Canyon Suite
You ever dream of filling your car with the essentials and driving through the night to a new adventure? A toothbrush, some cash and the open road, maybe even a feeling that something spectacular awaits you the next day? Ferde Grofé threw a few cans of gas on top of an old jeep and made his way across Arizona in 1916. He arrived at his destination after dark, unaware that the sunrise over the Grand Canyon would bring him a sight that would change his life in the morning.
Grofé first took in the American wonder as the sun rose, surrounded by chirping birds and the majesty of southwest America. He said “I couldn’t hardly describe it in words because words would be inadequate.” Grofé kept the vision in his head for 13 years until he started putting his memory to music. That sunrise became the first of five movements, along with a rolling thunderstorm and a trek on the Grand Canyon trail. Grofé pulled in elements of jazz and an innovative use of instruments to mimic burrows and crickets and squeaky wheels.
Grofé spent his later teen years doing various jobs, including delivering milk, newspapers and entertaining the late night crowd as a traveling pianist. This introduced Grofé to American jazz, which lead him to eventually cross paths with the likes of Gershwin. And it was his work with Gershwin on Rhapsody in Blue that inspired him to write The Grand Canyon Suite.
The Suite immediately won the hearts of audiences, including Walt Disney, who created an oscar winning documentary based off Grofé’s music.
America delivered to Grofé an unforgettable experience, and in turn Grofé created an ode to an American adventure and its natural wonder in The Grand Canyon suite.
Twenty-five years ago, Angèle Dubeau had a thriving career as a concert violinist, having studied with the legendary Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard School in New York. She had become a popular broadcaster at home in Québec, where she hosted a weekly French-language program on CBC. She already had her Arthur (as she calls her prized Stradivarius violin), but she envisioned an all-Canadian, all-female ensemble. Continue Reading Music Moment: Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà
Claudio José Brindis de Salas y Garrido. A renowned violinist, born in Cuba in 1852. A contemporary journalist described his playing, and the effect it had on his listeners. “His eyes sparkled. His fingers multiplied…reaching into the deep nerves of the melody…leading a rapt audience to drunken emotion.” Continue Reading Music Moment: Claudio Brindis De Salas Garrido