All roads lead to the concertzender. Take Guy Livingston, who left Tennessee for Paris a long time ago, found love, ended up in The Hague and met the Concertzender. That journey led to a unique series of some 120 programmes, born of… homesickness. Guy missed the Great Smoky Mountains and decided to make a programme in which he travelled through the United States, from landscape to landscape. A puzzle with many pieces because there was plenty of music. In addition to classical music, there were also soundtracks that helped shape our image of the overwhelming American nature. Just think about the films of John Wayne or Bonanza.
The Internet has contributed to the dissolution of time and space for the last 40 years or so because the music on either side of the pond no longer varies as much as before. Yet, a lot of the music in American Landscapes dates back to the last century, when there was still such a thing as “the American sound”, whether or not it was inspired by a world of canyons, vast plains and rivers.
Guy: “My favourite episode is probably number 82: “Take me to the River”, which is about the Mississippi, one of the longest rivers in the world. The river has also been a source of inspiration for writers, poets and every kind of composer you can think of. Many of them have been left orphaned by history. Take Florence Price, an African-American composer, at a time when people only paid any attention to white male composers. Her Mississippi River Suite is magnificent, rich and romantic and an excellent contrast to the reserved music of Virgil Thomson, who wrote a soundtrack about the river. And we cannot forget the unbridled Niagara Fall Suite by Ferde Grofé and – of course – Take me to the river by the New York Talking Heads.
Would you like to know more? Check out Landscapes – Radio GuyLive (guylivingston.com)
American Highways, Sunday 7 June from 10 to 11pm. All broadcasts can be revisited on our website.