War peace in the psalms
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War & Peace in the Psalms?. Jeremiah Selvey Music 185 February 28, 2012 University of Washington. FOUR QUESTIONS. What is a choir? Which parts sing in a choir? What is “tonal music”? What is a “premiere” in music?. What is a Choir?.

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War & Peace in the Psalms?

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War peace in the psalms

War & Peacein the Psalms?

Jeremiah Selvey

Music 185

February 28, 2012

University of Washington

Four questions


  • What is a choir?

  • Which parts sing in a choir?

  • What is “tonal music”?

  • What is a “premiere” in music?

What is a choir

What is a Choir?

  • Group of singers who strive to create an “orchestra” of voices

  • Usually led by a conductor

  • Most choristers in the U.S. are amateurs.

Chichester psalms background

Chichester psalmsBackground

  • Texts from the Hebrew Psalter

  • For choir, orchestra, boy soprano

  • By Leonard Berstein (Jewish; Broadway composer)

  • Composed in 1965 for Chichester Cathedral

What is tonal music

What is “Tonal Music”?

  • Music that uses the common practice and construct of 18th- and 19th- century melody and harmony.

  • A single tone or pitch is considered to be “home” and serves as the “base” for the scales on which the harmony and melody are based.

  • Generally returns back “home.” (Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy)

Soundscape of 1960 s

Soundscape of 1960’s

  • Expanding to more colorful explorations of composition

  • Led to three primary schools in the early 20th century.

    • Traditional / Tonal (Stravinsky, Bartòk, Milhaud, Poulenc)

    • Serial – dissolution of tonal construct; mathematical construction of melody and harmony (SchoenbergBoulez, Webern)

    • Avant-Garde – use of experimental techniques; re-creating defintions of music, etc. (Cowell, Varese, Cage)

  • Fresh thinking appreciate, but not a warm audience response.

Bernstein s approach

Bernstein’s Approach

  • Conducted many of these contemporary works with the New York Philharmonic

  • Wrote Symphony No. 3 “Kaddish” in the experimental style

  • Rejected the avant-garde techniques for Chichester Psalms

  • Use Broadway material as sources for ChichesterPslams tonal style (a huge contrast to other concert music of the 1960s)

Commission world premiere

Commission & World Premiere

  • Commission: contractual agreement between an organization and a composer for a work intended for performance by the organization; implies the rights for that organization to premiere the work.

  • World premiere: the first performance of a composition.

  • Chichester Cathedral did NOT get to premiere the work. 

War peace


  • Movement 1 – celebration & dancing

  • Movement 2 – calmness & then war; calmness during war

  • Movement 3 – struggle to find peace; peace found in the “love duet”; final chorale

    “How good and pleasant it is for people

    to dwell together in unity.”

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