For Purple Mountain Majesties
Duration: c. 17:50
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown
1. Pikes Peak – 3:40
2. Royal Gorge Bridge – 2:40
3. The Great Sand Dunes – 4:20
4. The Terrazzo – 5:05
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None discovered thus far.
Katharine Lee Bates took no time upon visiting Pikes Peak in 1893 to pen the lyrics to the American classic song America the Beautiful. Pikes Peak and the surrounding areas have always been an inspiration to many including composer Roger Cichy who chose to title this musical work For Purple Mountain Majesties drawing attention to the connection between the beloved lyrics, penned by Katharine Lee Bates, and this most beautiful region of Colorado.
In a musical depiction, Cichy begins the first movement, Pikes Peak, with a flurry of ascending pitches culminating in dramatic chords with percussive sounds representing one’s initial reaction to the remarkable sight of Pikes Peak and its surround geography. Perhaps the first people to witness this magnificent beauty were the Ute Indians followed by early explorers illustrated in the following section by evoking images of these people traversing the mountain’s trails. The tempo of this section clearly implies a walking or hiking pace. Illuminating other aspects of Pike Peak, Cichy gives musical reference to a rather bizarre hoax that occurred in 1876 pertaining to a claim that a family, living on Pikes Peak, had a small child eaten by giant mountain rats. Cichy laces an eerie lullaby over a sporadic and sinister sounding section to create the allusion to the hoax. This movement concludes with a return to the “mountain” theme which appears during the introduction of the movement.
The Royal Gorge Bridge, a popular attraction in the Pikes Peak region, provides the subject for the second movement. This movement begins with what Cichy refers to as a drive across the bridge. One note perpetuates representing the level bridge until the remarkable gorge comes into view, characterized by dramatic percussion and French horns. “The music here gives reference to the jagged and nearly vertical columns of rock that make up the gorge and the dramatic drop to the bottom”, Cichy comments. The Royal Gorge Bridge Park is also a popular recreational area, including a skycoaster, aerial tram and an incline railroad. Cichy capitalized on this aspect by creating playful melodies, all the while maintaining wide leaps in the melodic framework to give reference to the topography of the gorge and a linear accompaniment to give reference to the bridge. Further into the movement, the music conjures up the emotion of looking straight down into the 1,053-foot gorge and having your breath taken away. The movement ends with a “musical” pebble that tumbles down the gorge’s walls to the bottom.
In vast contrast to the massive mountains that make up the southern Colorado is an area known as the Great Sand Dunes. With the wind-shaped dunes pitted against the backdrop of the rugged mountains, Cichy begins this movement illustrating this contrast. Focusing solely on the Great Sand Dunes, Cichy moves into a slow style to create various scenes of the artful dunes, first with an English horn solo, followed by a flute and French horn duet. Here, the mood is very serene as one is awe struck by the wind-carved panorama that nature continually recreates.
The United States Air Force Academy at Colorado Spring is impressively located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Celebrating their 50th anniversary year, this Academy has been an all-important and significant feature of the area. The final movement, The Terrazzo, is written in honor of the thousands of cadets that have made their way through the Academy. Written in two sections, the first section of this movement is meant to reflect the buzzing of activity from academic classes, to flight training, athletics and military training; all part of cadet life. The second section, composed in a stately and joyous style, reflects the pride and honor of the Academy and its vast contribution to the world’s greatest aerospace force serving this nation. Most notable during the final statement of the theme is the long ascending, then descending bass line that accompanies the theme. This was intentionally constructed in this manner to simulate the flight path of an aircraft from takeoff to landing. The powerful ending is incorporated to leave the listener with a great sense of assurance and confidence in our Air Force’s ability to serve and protect the people of this great nation.
- Program Note from liner notes of Mark CD Sounds, Sketches and Ideas
None discovered thus far.
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Works for Winds by This Composer
- Amazing Grace (as arranger) (1779/2014)
- American Band Salute
- and make a joyous sound
- Bugs (2000)
- Colours (1997)
- Divertimento for Winds and Percussion (1994)
- El Caballero (2000)
- Emblazoned Joy
- Fanfare for a Festive Day (1996)
- First Flights
- Flowing Pens from Concord (2013)
- For Purple Mountain Majesties (2005)
- Galilean Moons (1996)
- Geometric Dances (2007)
- Hats Off (2016)
- New Millennium, Different World, New Beginnings
- Pandemonium (2006)
- Quartets (2006/2012)
- Sounds, Sketches, and Ideas
- T. Rex
- We Walked with Heads Held High (2006)
- Wisconsin Soundscapes
- Roger Cichy website Accessed 19 August 2020