A Composer for Every Country: Switzerland

Approaching Switzerland, it occurred to me that the US view of the country is rather negative. Swiss bank accounts, a broil of conspiracies surrounding the Knights Templar, they only have half a flag, and, worst of all in America, the Country of Neutrals. Maybe that's not just the US view, but outside of watches and cheese, the default view of the country from here Stateside is not especially flattering. Still, it's hard to argue with results. Switzerland is ranked highest in nominal wealth per adult, according to... wait a minute. *flip flip flip* According to a list compiled by Switzerland? Not exactly helping your case there, Swisslanders, but numbers don't lie, I guess.

 
Among other things, Switzerland stands out for NOT having a bloody revolution during the 19th century because their leaders were remarkably proactive in drafting a democratic constitution. This came in response to a comparatively minor conflict called the Sonderbundskrieg, in which Catholic cantons within the Swiss Confederation fought against increasing state centralization. The response was the creation of the Swiss Federal State in 1848, creating a government inspired largely by the USofA, with the greatest exception being their constitution can be totally rewritten, in full, basically at any time. Turned out to be a necessary trait later in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution wholly changed the structure and workings of society in Europe.
 
Culturally, Switzerland is interesting because so many different nationalities are attracted to the area, and different cantons in the Federation have different European leanings, depending on geographic location. Recognizing the complications that could arise from language barriers, students in Swiss schools are required to learn a second language beyond the official Swiss German, resulting in an exceptionally high bi-lingual rate. The government is also required to communicate in all the official languages (German, French, and Italian). 
 
This cosmopolitanism is as much a reflection of geographic centrality as it is an outgrowth of Switzerland's largely neutral status with regards to war and European politics. This neutrality made the country particularly attractive to intelligentsia looking for a haven during the first half of the 20th century. James Joyce and Vladimir Lenin made Switzerland their home, as an example. Other artists, perhaps less famous, ended up in the country as well: Herman Hesse, Tristan Tzara, and Paul Klee are prominent examples.
 
So Switzerland has a lot more going on than shady bank dealings, is what I mean. My composer for today is Ernest Bloch (1880-1959), not to be confused with German philosopher, Ernst Bloch. Known today primarily for compositions inspired by his Jewish heritage, Bloch was also a prominent teacher and education administrator. He was (takes a deep breath) the first composition instructor at the Mannes School of Music in New York City, the Music Director at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Music Director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, one of the founders of Music Conservatory of the West, and summer lecturer at University of California, Berkley. That's... quite a mouthful. He was also a rather prolific photographer. In 1941 Bloch settled in Agate Beach, Oregon, where he lived for the rest of his life.
 
The piece I share here is In Memoriam, written in memory of pianist and founder of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Ada Clement.
 
 
If you're looking for a longer length piece, it is impossible not to recommend his rhapsody for cello and orchestra Schelomo, a musical meditation on the life and character of King Solomon.