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Here’s some contemporary music the president will hear at his inauguration

Here’s what President Obama will be hearing this morning as the Introit before the liturgy of the service at St. John’s Lafayette Square. It’s a piece written in 2002 by US composer David Ludwig and called, The New Colossus.  New music, for a new term. Nice.

david ludwig

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  1. A fine-sounding work!

  2. gerald brennan says:

    “The New Colossus. New music, for a new term. Nice.”

    What’s nice about it? This is an inauguration, not a coronation.
    “New Collossus”… (shudder)

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Oh dear! Please be calm. His Majesty Barack I won’t be wearing a crown any time soon.

      The New Colossus (like the Colossus of Rhodes) refers, I believe, to the Statue of Liberty guarding the harbor of NYC, The text of the composition is the poem by Emma Lazarus, entitled “The New Colossus” of which a citation is engraved on the monument:

      “…Give me your tired, your poor,
      Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
      Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
      I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    • @gerald brennan: You should have found out a little more about the piece before sounding off so indignantly. Mr. Ludwig’s piece is a setting of the Emma Lazarus poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty. It is not, as you seem to be implying, a metaphorical description of Mr. Obama or his character.

  3. JBBaldwin says:

    It is perfectly dreadful poetry unworthy of any occasion.

  4. What a nice piece written for me! Which century was it composed? Perhaps the 12th? no…the part at the end, must be the early 20th!!

  5. ML Fallis says:

    Give him a break.. That piece is perfectly respectable for an inauguration.. OK not groundbreaking…but would you have wanted a Masterpiece “wasted” on this event? We didn’t get Rite of Spring or even a Phillip Glass piece at state events.. America is NOT Europe with centuries of high culture.. the US of A has always been a more populist grass roots culture….This youngish perfectly OK competent composer can probably use the commission and I predict that this piece will be sung at graduations, commencements and proud State Occasions for many many years to come.. ( not unlike ” Something Like a Star” by dear old Virgil Thompson) Can we not let this ceremony go by without sour grapes.. what, pray tell, would be more appropriate?

    • Harrison Boyle says:

      Just a slight correction: “Choose Something Like A Star” (an old favorite of those few high school choir directors lucky enough to still have something better than a ‘show choir” ) is from Frostiana – a suite of Robert Frost settings by Randall Thompson (who, like Ludwig, taught at Curtis but went on to teach at Harvard.) Confusing him with Virgil happens often enough as they are of a similar vintage and musical inclinations.

  6. Caroline Whiddon says:

    What a collection of grumpy, jaded commentators! Here we have a young composer (who happens to be on the faculty at the Curtis Institute and is a brilliant musician) having one of his compositions from last decade performed during a brief chapel ceremony prior to the main inaugural event, and all people can do is complain. The music, the poetry, the politics…. any opportunity to complain. I’m so tired of grumpy musicians. How about simply expressing some excitement for the composer? Geesh. For those people who are the “poor, huddled masses” I’m sure it’s the sweetest sounding poetry/music they’ve ever heard!

  7. JBBaldwin says:

    No sour grapes from me; I’m happy for the composer to be able to make a living writing and teaching at a wonderful music school. I’m glad there was new music (albeit peripherally) as part of the inauguration.

    I stand by my point that the poetry is execrable, the joy of the poor huddled masses notwithstanding.

  8. Michael Thompson says:

    The composer is also, I believe, Rudolf Serkin’s grandson (?)

  9. ML Fallis says:

    I saw that too when I googled him.. He is indeed
    Rudolf Serkin’s grandson. He’s carved out a very respectable career for himself on his own.

    good on him.

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