Joseph T. Spaniola’s THOMAS JEFFERSON: LIFE LINES (Orchestra and voices) has been released on WOVEN IN TIME (Navona Records: https://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/NV6369/) recorded by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra (Brno, Czech Republic).
THOMAS JEFFERSON: LIFE LINES is a five movement composition based on excerpts culled from over 19,000 extent, eloquently and passionately written personal letters of Thomas Jefferson. His letters address almost every subject imaginable. The selected excerpts (or lines) portray the intimate, human qualities of the man. The music is as diverse and varied as Jefferson’s interests. The style, tone and form of the music are directly tied to Jefferson’s words.
The first movement contains eight brief excerpts that highlight different aspects of Jefferson’s mindset (listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFvpYFYi-Fg&list=OLAK5uy_lVUrRtaKUxS_IBHthnPA-Mxsf4UsWniaI&t=4s).
Each of the remaining movements focus on a single subject: II. the death of Jefferson’s wife, Martha (listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UdavwUYtSk&list=OLAK5uy_lVUrRtaKUxS_IBHthnPA-Mxsf4UsWniaI&index=8);
III. Monticello (listen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_qfd4sYPhs&list=OLAK5uy_lVUrRtaKUxS_IBHthnPA-Mxsf4UsWniaI&index=9).
Also, not included in this recording project are IV. a dialogue between Jefferson’s head and heart; and V. Jefferson’s belief in the free mind.
The first tenor is the voice of Thomas Jefferson in all movements. In the opening movement, Jefferson’s words are spoken. In the remaining movements, he primarily sings his text, but often reverts to spoken delivery. Each of the three other voices serve as general support except in specific movements where each have specialized roles: II. the alto is the voice of Martha Jefferson (and, not included in this recording project, IV. the second tenor and bass voice Jefferson’s emotional heart and rational mind, respectively).
Two fundamental components of Jefferson’s being, the rational mind and the emotional heart, are musically portrayed in the introduction of the first movement. The music that follows in the first and all subsequent movements is derived from these two components. The first tenor opens with the “life line” that framed this entire work, “The letters of a person form the only full and genuine journal of his life.”