Lou Harrison's Symphony on G—so-called because it employs the 12 tone method of composition but remains tonally centered on the note G—bridges the gap between, on the one hand, the teachings of Arnold Schoenberg and Harrison's New York experience (with its European influenced energies) and, on the other hand, his roots on the Pacific coast.
The symphony is in the four traditional movements, opening with an Allegro deciso and a Largo juxtaposed with a Scherzo (in itself a small suite comprised of a waltz, polka, an air, and a rondeau), and the Finale.
Carl Ruggles reputation as a composer rests on a few short compositions. He destroyed most of his early music and what is left of his mature output is a handful of pieces, densely composed and highly worked but also rugged, intense, and even mystical in tone.
Organum takes its title from medieval music—organum was the earliest form of multi-voiced music which grew out of Gregorian chant—the work contains no obvious evocation of the past, suggesting instead a shattered landscape of great sublimity and terror.
The history of Men and Mountains is complex. Begun in the early 1920s, Ruggles constantly reworked the piece, eventually deciding on three movements: "Men." "Lilacs,"and "Marching Mountains." Originally scored for chamber orchestra it reached its final version for large orchestra in 1936. In the words of Lawrence Gilman of the New York Herald-Tribune: "There is a touch of the apocalyptic, the fabulous... He is the master of a strange, torrential and perturbing discourse."
Gerhard Samuel, Akeo Watanabe, and William Strickland, conductors