ENS.2017.4b | 11′
Oboe, Violin, Viola, Cello
I. Seminary Ridge
II. Little Round Top
III. Pickett’s Charge
On the first three days of July, 1863, the Union Army of the Potomac under its new commander George G. Meade faced off with Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Though the battle represented the culmination of Lee’s second invasion of the North, it began by accident when battered Southern soldiers, having supposedly heard shoes could be found in Gettysburg, collided with Union soldiers on Seminary Ridge. The numerically inferior Northerners fought hard but were pushed back.
Both armies arrived in force on the second day. Lee threw troops under his loyal lieutenant James Longstreet against Meade, resulting in terrible fighting in the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and atop Little Round Top, whose strategically-sited soldiers the Confederates failed to dislodge. Frustrated, on July 3rd Lee committed much of his army to a massive attack against the Union center. This grand spectacle, inaccurately known as Pickett’s Charge, ended in repulse, and the Confederates retreated back to Virginia as both armies licked their wounds.
July 4th, 1863, “the most glorious fourth”, found the nation celebrating the twin victories of Gettysburg in the east and Grant’s success at Vicksburg in the West. There was still much fighting ahead, but the war had reached a turning point.
My Oboe Quartet is part of an ongoing series of compositions in which fundamentally abstract music does battle with extravagantly unrelated extramusical narratives. It forms the central panel in a trilogy of instrumental works relating in some way to the American Civil War entitled “Mystic Chords of Memory.”