At my Blue Notebooks event the other night, someone asked about a little thematic resemblance mentioned in my book — between the opening notes of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony and the opening notes of Coltrane's A Love Supreme. I didn't have the requisite samples available on my computer, so I thought I'd set them forth here. Sibelius:
Osmo Vänskä conducting the Lahti Symphony, BIS 1286/88.
Coltrane, moving at greater speed (and a half-step up):
In both cases the sequence of intervals is the same: fourth, major second, fourth again. As it happens, Bernstein used the same configuration in On the Town:
I assume the resemblance is accidental in the case of Coltrane, intentional in the case of Bernstein. I don't see Sibelius mentioned on lists of Coltrane's favorite composers. Bernstein, on the other hand, was notoriously brilliant at adapting classical repertory to music-theater ends. Possibly Coltrane was riffing off Bernstein riffing off Sibelius. Or: the same intervals (descending rather ascending) can be found in "My Favorite Things." Or he just dreamed them up on the spot.
What happens when you shrink the major second to a minor second? You get Lulu:
Gerd Nienstedt, with Pierre Boulez conducting the orchestra of the Paris Opera, DG 415 489-2.
For a little Ivesian mayhem, hit all the buttons in quick succession. Try the same on my Chapter 1 audiofiles — it comes out sounding very much like Wolfgang Rihm.