May 12 1946
Columbia University Festival
Leon Barzin, conductor
New York, NY
A lively, colorful, and charming suite describing a musical train ride across America. The 11 short movements, beginning with "Laying the Rails" and ending with "The Timberline Express," are mostly based on American folksongs.Composer note:
These songs are in a sense geographical; for do not the vista, the altitude, the humidity, the vegetation, the crops, the desert, the sea-coast, the fertile inland valleys, the characteristic sky and clouds, the temperature, wind and rainfall all affect the people's song no less that their national, racial, and cultural heritage? Indeed these very factors of the land determine in large measure the strains of the people that choose to live in one section rather than another.
As a painter uses as models men and women, buildings and trees, skies and water, so the composer may use as his models sequestered tunes. The folk-lorist, with his recording device, may achieve the same accurate representation as the photographer, but the composer, no less that the painter, considers such material as something through which to discover and reveal his own personality. The mistake should not be made, then, of calling the result an 'arrangement,' unless you are prepared to term Mr. Eskin's 'Chess Players' an arrangement of two men and a chess board.