War Is Kind

Daniel W. McCarthy

About this work:
In October, 2001, I finished "Chamber Symphony No. 2 for Bassoon and Winds." This piece was commissioned for Barrick Stees, bassoonist with the Cleveland Orchestra by John Whitwell, conductor of the Michigan State University Wind Symphony. On November 2, 2001, I was in my hotel room in Lansing, Michigan preparing for the premier of this piece, but all thetime I was mindful of my next commission from East Central University Department of Music--to create a new piece for wind ensemble and chorus. There is a particular problem in writing vocal music- you have to have a text! Not only did I not have a text, but I had no textual themes for this piece. So this is how I decided to use these texts in the writing of War Is Kind. After the events of September 11, 2001, many composers and artists jumped on the 9/11 "bandwagon" to create pieces on that timely subject. I must say immediately that "War Is Kind" is not really a piece About September 11, 2001. But being a child of the late sixties and early seventies I remember the Viet Nam war, although I was too young to be drafted. My generation, it seems, was very lucky to come of adult age during relatively long period of time when The United States was not at war. But war is once again, war is a major concern in our country with the Gulf War, war Afghanistan and Iraq. It is with this in mind that I have been thinking about my older friends and Colleagues who fought in World War II and Korea. It is awesome to comprehend being the age of 18 or 19 and starring in the face of annihilation. Still many of these people did what they must and are alive today to tell me about there lives. The older generations grew up quickly and made many serious commitments, like marriage, because life for them (I believe) WAS more serious than mine had been when I was entering college. So I have written several pieces about the World War II generation, particularly "All The West Was Moving" written for Sergeant John Sergeant, who was a colleague of mine at the Interlochen Center for the Arts who recently died. So three of the four movements from War Is Kind are about: the awesome power unleashed in the machinery of war and the fear that there may be an end to the world as we know it (I. Beat! Beat! Drums! by Walt Whitman); The odd dichotomy in the text that seemingly was written to console a grieving parent, lover, or another who has lost a loved one--when one wonders how their loved one died--did they suffer? "Do not weep. War Is Kind." (II. War Is Kind, Stephen Crane), and; the utter despair of James Joyce's "I Hear an Army (III)" ("My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?). I am also aware of the battles that we must fight in our personal and professional lives. So the last movement, "Beyond The Havens" is about reconciliation healing. It is titled partly after the last chapter of "The Return of The King," J.R.R. Tolkien, ("The Lord of the Rings"). The writing of "War Is Kind" was begun on December 26, 2001 and completed three weeks later on January 9th, 2002. War Is Kind is based upon the following texts: Beat! Beat! Drums! Walt Whitman Beat! Beat! Drums!—blow! Bugles! Blow! Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force, Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation, Into the school where the scholar is studying; Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride, Nor the farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering grain, So fierce you pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow. Beat! Beat! Drums!—blow! Bugles! Blow! Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets; Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds, No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue? Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing? Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge? Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow. Beat! Beat! Drums!—blow! Bugles! Blow! Make no parley—stop for no expostulation, Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer, Mind not the old man beseeching the young man, Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties, Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses, So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow. Do Not Weep, Maiden, For War Is Kind Stephen Crane (from War Is Kind) Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind. Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky And the a frightened steed ran on alone, Do not weep. War is kind. Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment, Little souls who thirst for fight— These men were born to drill and die. The unexplained glory flies above them; Great is the battle-god, great—and his kingdom A field where a thousand corpses lie. Do not weep, babe, for war is kind. Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches, Raged at his breast, gulped and died, Do not weep. War is kind. Swift-blazing flag of the regiment, Eagle with crest of red and gold, These men were born to drill and die. Point for them the virtue of slaughter, Make plain to them the excellence of killing, And a field where a thousand corpses lie. Mother whose heart hung humble as a button On the bright splendid shroud of your son, Do not weep. War is kind. I Hear an Army James Joyce I hear an army charging upon the land, And the thunder of horses plunging; foam about their knees: Arrogant, in black armour,behind them stand, Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the Charioteers. They cry into the night their battle name: I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter. They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame, Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil. They come shaking in triumph their long grey hair: They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore. My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair? My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone? Beyond the Havens Daniel McCarthy Through the corridors of fate Lies a road or secret gate though in Life I've passed them by the time has come to find the path and take the road where shadows run under the moon to search for the sun 'round the corner I may find a new road too steep to climb all my life I've passed them by the time has come, I can not pass until I take the path that run under the moon and behind the sun Out of doubt, far from the darkness I journey ever on Out of fear, far from the shadow my heart goes ever on. Let others follow who can journey at last my weary feet will guide my heart its rest to meet through the corridors of fate lies a road or secret gate though in life I've passed them by the time has come, I can not pass 'till at last from this path I am lifted out of death, out of life unto the glory!
Version: Wind Ensemble & Chorus
Year composed: 2004
Duration: 00:15:00
Ensemble type: Chorus, with or without Solo Voices:Chorus with Band or Wind Ensemble
Instrumentation: 1 Piccolo, 2 Flute, 2 Oboe, 1 English Horn, 3 Clarinet, 1 Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoon, 1 Soprano Saxophone, 1 Alto Saxophone, 1 Tenor Saxophone, 1 Baritone Saxophone, 4 Horn in F, 3 Trumpet, 2 Trombone, 1 Tuba, 1 Euphonium/Tenor Tuba, 1 Timpani, 4 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 S,1 S soloist(s), 1 A, 1 T, 1 B
Instrumentation notes: Available form: C. Alan Publications, P.O. Box 29323 Greensboro, NC 27429-9323, 336.272.3920 E-MAIL ADDRESS contact@c-alanpublications.com

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