Vittorio Giannini – IBM Symphony (1937)

IBM World Headquarters, New York, dedicated January 1938 (Courtesy: sysrun.haifa.ibm.com)

IBM World Headquarters, New York, dedicated January 1938 (Courtesy: sysrun.haifa.ibm.com)

1937. A year when major corporations, such as IBM, commissioned symphonies instead of radio ads for the grand opening of grand buildings.

Vittorio Giannini (Courtesy: library.uncsa.edu)

Vittorio Giannini (Courtesy: library.uncsa.edu)

The IBM Symphony by Philadelphian Vittorio Giannini, and dedicated to “world peace through world trade,” moves along fairly well, though one is perhaps unsuspectingly imposed upon by the American national anthem in the concluding Allegro ritmico, which, it must be said, starts out well enough. As do works of other composers utilizing the same device: Beethoven and Tchaikovsky immediately come to mind.

As with so many artists, there is more to the person than meets the immediate eye or ear. Giannini’s art song, represented, it is said, best by 1927’s “Tell me, o blue, blue sky,” reveals a different kind of intensification, and an American loveliness that now seems to be lost.

With thanks to Alex Ross.

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