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North Country

North Country


Harry Somers' North Country written in the fall of 1948 is one of the composer's earliest orchestra works, and remains one of his most frequently played.  It is also, in the words of biographer Brian Cherney, "one of Somers' most original and striking achievements, evoking qualities of the northern Ontario wilderness which Somers had been visiting around the time he wrote the work, with its rugged terrain, bleak landscapes, tranquility and loneliness.

Essentially the work is a four-movement suite ... Notwithstanding, the music ... is highly suggestive of certain qualities one associates with the vast semi-wilderness of northern Ontario bleakness, ruggedness, and loneliness. The musical characteristics which suggest these qualities are not difficult to isolate: the taut, lean textures and nervous rhythmic vitality (especially of the outer two movements) and the spare, thin melodic lines (especially in a high register, as in the first movement) are the most obvious traits. " Cherney (1975: 35).

Cherney, Brian. Harry Somers. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1975.


North Country was written at the end of what has been viewed by those with a scholarly interest in Canadian music as Harry Somers' first period of composition. Essentially this piece, as well as a handful of other works including a string quartet and his Symphony No. 1 , would mark the transition to a more mature compositional style. Even though Somers' was gaining respect from his peers at this time he was definitely not making a comfortable living from his craft. Over the next decade (the 1950's) Canada would begin to recognize its artists and Somers' would take his place as one of the country's leading composers of the younger generation.

Cantate pour une joie Fall Fair Kuyas Canada dash Canada dot - part III North Country

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