Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. His thoughts and words continue to inspire and engage people around the work to this day. Explore the personal side of Jefferson with Joseph T. Spaniola’s THOMAS JEFFERSON: Life Lines (Orchestra and voices). For the first installment of this exploration, listen to the first movement, “Journal of Life” – https://youtu.be/YrH_PhPHv_0

Read more about the music:

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 opening movement is entitled “Journal of Life.”  It presents brief, yet incisive excerpts from Jefferson’s personal letters as a montage in order to create a broad overview of his personality.  The style and character of the music change with each epistolary excerpt to reflect the spirit of the trait conveyed by the words.  The varied musical styles and elements of this movement serve as the foundation on which the remaining movements are built.

The structure of this movement is modeled after the great dome on the house that Jefferson designed and built at Monticello.  In the walls of the dome are eight circular windows.  Each window allows light from a different vantagepoint to enter the chamber of the dome.  Thus, for each window in the dome I have selected a quotation that serves to illuminate a different aspect of the multi-dimensional Jefferson.  Although each quotation, like its corresponding window, offers a limited view of what is inside, an observer must travel 360 degrees to encounter all eight:

1. “The letters of a person form the only full and genuine journal of his life.” from TJ to Robert Walsh, April 5, 1823

2. “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth and no culture comparable to that of the garden. Though an old man, I am but a young gardener.” from TJ to Charles W. Peale, August 20, 1811

3. “I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.” from TJ to Cornelius Blatchly, October 21, 1822

4. “I never go to bed without reading something moral whereon to ruminate in intervals of sleep.” from TJ to Dr. Vine Utley, March 21, 1819

5. “Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science by rendering them my supreme delight.” from TJ to Pierre Samuel DuPont de Nemours, March 2, 1809

6. “Be a listener, keep within yourself and endeavor to establish the habit of silence which serves one best in confronting zealotry.” from TJ to his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, November 24, 1808

7. “Music is invaluable.  It furnishes a delightful recreation and will be a companion which will sweeten many hours of life.” from TJ to unattributed in The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson

8. “It is a good world on the whole; framed on a principle of benevolence and more pleasure than pain dealt out to us.  So I steer my bark with hope in the head, leaving fear astern.  My hopes sometimes fail; but not oftener than the foreboding of the gloomy.” from TJ to John Adams, April 8, 1816

Joseph T. Spaniola’s “PERSEVERANCE: An Isolation Chronicle” was premiered by Kennesaw State University Wind Ensemble, David Kehler, Conductor on March 2, 2022 in Kennesaw, Georgia. KSU also premiered Michael Shapiro’s “In Every One.”

Joseph Spaniola, David Kehler and Michael Shapiro in Kennesaw, Georgia, 2 March 2022

Perseverance was written in response to the isolation people experienced around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the program notes that accompany the music.

Perseverance: An Isolation Chronicle (2021)

During the height of the pandemic, people around the world isolated themselves at home for extended periods of time. Each hour and day were difficult to distinguish from the next, each person feeling like Homer’s Sisyphus, sentenced to eternally roll a large stone up a hill only for it to roll down as it approached the top, or being tasked to find a corner in a round room. The days were as the river in Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, “this water ran and ran, incessantly it ran, and was always there, was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment.”

An underlying focused calm was the foundation on which survival was built. It allowed for resolutely facing the moment, courageously moving forward while standing still. Solemn thoughts of resolution invade one’s heart and mind and help fuel the passion to press on. Defiantly, the quest continues, compelled onward by a bold, unwavering, and relentless spirit. How much time has passed? Be it an hour, day, week, month, or year, it was always at all times the same and yet new in every moment and comprises this chronicle of Perseverance.

–Joseph T. Spaniola

The album PINNACLE Vol 2 (Navona Records) which contains Joseph T. Spaniola’s composition, ARMENIAN STIRRINGS (Clarinet & Piano) received a Silver Medal from the Global Music Awards in the Classical Album category. Congratulations to the contributing composers and performers without whom the album would not exist. Special thanks to Rane Moore (Clarinet) and Yoko Hagino (Piano) and everyone at Navona Records and PARMA. Global Music Awards is “a top-tier music competition that honors talented musicians around the world. It is a showcase for musical gems and unique voices.” Follow this link to listen to the album: https://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6368/ or find it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube, Deezer and other streaming platforms

Listen to Joseph T. Spaniola’s ARMENIAN STIRRINGS (Clarinet and Piano) on PINNACLE Vol 2

Joseph T. Spaniola is the featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of PARMA Recording artists. The interview is in conjunction with the release of his THOMAS JEFFERSON: LIFE LINES (Orchestra and Voices) on WOVEN IN TIME (Navona Records). To view the interview, follow this link: https://www.parmarecordings.com/inside-story-joseph-t-spaniola-and-woven-in-time/

Joseph T. Spaniola

Happy Holidays! Here is my lighthearted medley of holiday tunes, LOOKING UP AT CHRISTMAS (Windows & Snowballs & AAAs, Dear Claus) for the young and the young at heart. You know the tunes, but this presents alternate lyrics written from the perspective of a child. This arrangement is from my time in The US Air Force Academy Band. This link is a live recording from our 2006 holiday tour: https://josephspaniola.com/music/happy-holidays-2021/

LOOKING UP AT CHRISTMAS (Windows & Snowballs & AAAs, Dear Claus) Arr. Joseph T. Spaniola