Charles Ives The Alcotts Parts

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Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Saxophone, Bassoon, Bass Clarinet
6′

The Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840–60 (commonly known as the Concord Sonata) is a piano sonata by Charles Ives. It is one of the composer’s best-known and most highly regarded pieces. The sonata’s four movements represent figures associated with transcendentalism, and the third movement “The Alcotts” was written after Bronson Alcott and Louisa May Alcott.

The Alcotts is mostly a serene movement based on the Human Faith theme, but also features some tense conflicts and outbursts of Beethoven’s Fifth. The movement portrays both Louisa May and her father. Bronson Alcott was famously talkative but also serene and mild-mannered, while Louisa May struggled with her hot temper and worked heroically at her books to pull her family up out of poverty. Ives specified that the calm opening of “The Alcotts” draws inspiration from a conversation Bronson Alcott once had with Sam Staples, the Concord sherif who once had to lock Thoreau up in jail.

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