Selected Quote: By Ray Bogas, former member of the Griller Quartet.
Ernest Bloch was one of the giants of the musical world in the twentieth century. His story is a truly American one. Born in Switzerland and risen to a degree of fame in Europe, he was among those who sought refuge and new opportunities in this country at the time of the First World War. In 1919, at the age of 39, he was awarded the coveted Coolidge Prize in New York for his Viola Suite, and this launched his successful career in America. In gratefulness to his adopted homeland, he wrote his First Symphony, subtitled “America.” which presented a panorama of American cultural roots and contained, in the last movement, a truly stirring anthem, worthy of becoming a national anthem. It is sung by a chorus of voices, and is akin to “America the Beautiful” in feeling and ease of singing. I have always felt that this new anthem is more appropriate to our national sensibility than the current anthem, which is a battle song and a bit awkward in its melodic line.
Be that as it may, Bloch fully demonstrated his love of this country and he went on to become director of two of the top music conservatories, in Cleveland and San Francisco, while his works were performed all over the country. While there was a period of time in the latter part of the twentieth century when his music was less performed, there is now a renascence of
interest in his music and 2009 will see many performances of his various works throughout the country.
There can be no doubt that Ernest Bloch stands as one of the very finest of composers, the quality of his work putting him in the ranks of such major figures as Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, the “three B’s”. Bloch naturally becomes the “fourth B”, and we can take pride in his being an American. I think it would be most fitting that his home at Agate Beach be set aside as a Heritage Site and stand as a permanent reminder that great things can be accomplished in this country of ours and that America holds out its welcoming arms to the great talents of the world who come here to work and contribute their creativity to the fabric of our society.
I may add that I knew Bloch and studied with him in rehearsal and classroom settings. He was an amazing Bach scholar, and his discoveries and use of a whole new harmonic vocabulary assures his place in the annals of music history. There have been a number of fine American composers in the twentieth century, some perhaps better recognized, but none greater.
by Ray Bogas on the occasion of making a case for why the person who lived at 116 N.W. Gilbert Way in Agate Beach (Newport), Oregon is of sufficient significance as to warrant that the home in which he lived for the last quarter of his life be put on the National Historic Register.
[According to Lewinski, the Griller Quartet comes to Agate Beach for three days to study the ‘troisième Quatuor’ with him. It is dedicated to them.]
[According to Lewinski, the Griller Quartet came to play the Fifth Quartet for Bloch in July 1957.]