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In 1933 the Musical Courier called Henry Kimball Hadley "probably the most important composer in the contemporary American musical scene." Although his musical influence has been obscured by others over the past three-quarters of a century, his amazing promotion and support of American music and composers has only been matched by Koussevitzky and Hanson. Henry Hadley was one of the most amazingly prolific composers of the early twentieth century. He composed virtually in every musical genre, producing operas, operettas, incidental music, musicals, ballet suites, band pieces, symphonies, overtures, tone poems, cantatas, hymns, oratorios, anthems, choral pieces, chamber music, piano pieces, and numerous songs. According to biographer J. Canfield, Hadley may also have written "the first musical score to be recorded and played in synchronism with an entire motion picture" when he composed for the Vitaphone Company the film score for When a Man Loves (released in November 1926).
For each of the works on this disc, Hadley provided his own personal program notes which we quote. The Ocean was composed, for the most part, in the autumn of 1920, but was not finally completed until October of 1921. Hadley conducted its first performance at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic on November 17, 1921. The music is based upon suggestions derived from a poem by Louis K. Anspacher (1878-1947), entitled Ocean Ode. Hadley had stated that he concentrated his imagination upon certain particular stanzas, rather than upon the poem as a whole. "Moreover," wrote Hadley, "I have not followed these strophes in the order in which they appear in the Ode. I intended the first section to be (after a short introduction of majestic harmonies for full orchestra) the Allegro proper of the work, suggesting the elements 'let loose' with all the fury and tumult of a tempestuous sea. The introduction contains a short phrase (of three chords) -- a 'motto' which recurs again and again throughout the piece, always with great vigor and sinister portent, except at the close, when it is heard for the last time pp in the trumpets and trombones, alternating:" --
Tear a leaf from the Furies' history, Loosen the wind's hoarse. Blast. Unroll the scroll of stormy mystery. Over the ocean's vast!
Let the wind with its shrill lash. Whip the waves until they gnash. And spume and foam and seethe and fret. And gape their jagged jaws to spet. Their angry spray anent the sky; And rear their towering might to try.
To quench the heaven's sullen ashes. And fulminating flashes. Leaping through the smoky clouds, That hang low like trailing shrouds. From wailing winds wild in their cry; While the echoing thunder crashes. Tremendously from high.
Rise, thou monster muddy-muscled, Million-armed Briareus! Now if ever thou hast tussled, Wrestle with thy Protean thews. Engulf the wind that scornful mocks. Thy hoary head and spray-dashed locks. Show thy fangs and foaming teeth,
Growl thy darkest growl beneath! Rise, oh rise! Blot the light and drown the skies: Stoop, thou Heaven, ope thy gate, Not in mercy but in hate, Rise, oh rise! Death's abroad and will be sate.
"Then follows [continues Mr. Hadley] the middle section, which contains the 'sea-sprites' motif, sung by the three flutes over a background of motion in the celli and solo clarinet with sustained string accompaniment": --
Naiads bound in graceful slumber. Lie within the dark green caves; Where the flush of slipping waves. Scarce disturbs the shadowy umber. Of the willowy weeds, and laves. The pearlèd grottoes without number.
The wash of waters laps the strand, Then a retreating hush. Of waves soft gliding from the sand. With a hearkening tush. The Undines dance at the curving edge
Where falls the spray; They move to the murmurs of the sedge. That darks with mystery the ledge, In the moon's pale day.
The crooning wind floats half asleep. Tuning its haunting monotone, But wandering still on the breast of the deep, Alone -- Alone -- Mingling its sigh with the sedge's moan, All else doth silence keep. Save where the tripping sea-sprites dance, With dripping toes in gleeful advance. And eager retreat, Treading the time with faery feet, Threading mazes like those of Crete, Throughout the serrate rim.
Hadley concludes: "The last part is the quiet, serene ocean flowing on through eternity. This begins with an undulating movement in the divided double-basses and harp over which sounds a succession of broken chords in the strings with bell-like effect. Against this the solo horn sings a new melody of great calm, which is answered by the oboe and in turn taken up by all the solo instruments. This theme is finally developed and expanded by the full orchestra, and after a fff climax the music dies away with the reiteration of the motto pp and the sound of bells": --
The dreaming moon-light silvers all. In the eve serene; And the rolling rise and fall. Of the waves, careen, Rhythmical and gradual, Mesmerically musical, Hold the sea in silent thrall. And undulate the sheen. Now the halcyon breeds its young. On the ocean's lull; Now is heard the distant call. Of the wandering gull.
Under night's deep sapphire pall. All else to steep is sung. Thy deep rest pervades, my soul. With inviolable quiet. Oh, thou great, dark sea, I would be one with thee. Gliding like thee to thy goal, Gaining ever closer nigh it. Riding on a tidal roll. Over every hindering shoal, And ever grandly sweeping by it. To eternity.
Reflecting on the work, Lawrence Gilman wrote: "Mr. Hadley, incited by the visions caught and fixed in his poetical text, has responded to "the sense of all the sea." He has confined himself neither to dreams nor to storms. The ocean has been for him a thing not merely of iridescent spray and summer stars; he has been moved by the sense of what Mr. Kipling called "its excellent loneliness"; he has remembered its "husky, haughty lips," its unconquerable mystery, its moods of cosmic and terrifying elation, its thunderous laughter, the huge and solemn voice that chants its immemorial song under brooding- skies. He has remembered its inexorability, its tamelessness, its serenity, its haunted beauty, its savage and cruel magic."
Hadley composed his rhapsody, The Culprit Fay in 1908. It won the $1,000 prize of the National Federation of Music Clubs in 1909. Hadley conducted its first performance with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra in May 1909, at Grand Rapids, Michigan. The work quickly became popular and was taken on tour by other conductors, most prominently Frederick Stock in Chicago, Cincinnati and Detroit, and Victor Herbert in New York and Memphis, Tennessee. Hadley's rhapsody stems directly from the once popular poem, The Culprit Fay, written in August 1817 by American poet, Joseph Rodman Drake (1795-1820). The poem, written in three days with the avowed intention of showing that American rivers (in this case the Hudson River), as well as British, were worthy of celebration. The poem, which consists of six hundred and forty irregular lines, generally iambic, is divided into thirty six stanzas of unequal length. Published posthumously in 1836, this poem also influenced two other earlier American composers to write musical works -- Dudley Buck (1839-1909), whose setting was destroyed in a fire in 1871, and Frederick Grant Gleason (1848-1903) who set the entire poem as a cantata for chorus and orchestra in 1879.
Hadley's rhapsodic orchestral treatment of Drake's charming, airy and magical poem effectively paints the adventures of a fairy (within a background of Hudson River scenery), who loves a mortal maid. As punishment he is ordered by the fairy king to catch a drop of the water raised by a sturgeon's leap in the bright moonshine, and the last faint spark of a shooting star. When the tasks are successfully completed he wins redemption and is welcomed back into the company of his peers. General merriment breaks out until the cock crows to signalize the coming of dawn and the end of the festivities. Brilliantly orchestrated, Hadley's The Culprit Fay has the orchestral shimmer of Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice with the added romantic flair of Richard Strauss' tone-poems.
Between 1897 and 1935, Hadley composed five symphonies. Symphony No.4 in D minor, Opus 64 was composed for the Norfolk, Connecticut Festival and was first performed (conducted by the composer) at a meeting of the Litchfield County Choral Union held in the Music Shed on the grounds of Carl Stoeckel's residence at Norfolk on June 6, 1911. Hadley conducted the work many times after that, including at Queen's Hall, London, and at the Worcester Festival in Massachusetts. When Hadley guest conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra on February 7, 1925, he provided a detailed and lengthy program note on the symphony, which is summarized and excerpted below:
"This symphony is a musical portrayal of moods suggesting, first, the frozen North; second the Far East; third, our own Southern ragtime rhythms; and fourth, the spirit of the West of our Pacific Coast. The first movement suggests the extreme North: snow, ice, barren waste, and tempest. The second movement (East) is an Oriental tone-picture, while the third movement (South), a scherzo, contains themes which suggest ragtime syncopations. (This movement, typically American, suggests restless energy.) The, fourth and final movement (West) is big, buoyant, and joyous. At the time of writing this movement, the composer was living in that section of the country, and he knew the spirit. There is an Indian theme, given in the English horn, accompanied by two bassoons and Indian drum. This Indian theme must not, however, be taken as anything but episodical. It must not be forgotten that this 'Western spirit' came originally from the strip of States on the Atlantic Coast, and is an extension rather than a new product. There is a love theme, too (second subject), but the symphony ends triumphantly, the Allegro theme (enlarged) in brass, with brilliant fashion making the close."
Marina and Victor Ledin, Encore Consultants, © 2001.