Listening to Windsor Jambs

Thank you, Internet! While researching the history of Windsor Bush recently, I stumbled across a YouTube music video titled "Windsor Jambs." This is a piece of music unlike anything I have heard before. I can't promise you'll like it, but give it a try. The piece was written in 1980 by Earle Brown, a leading composer of American avant-garde music from the 1950s until his death in 2002.  Why did Brown name a composition for a wild and remote gorge off River Road? Just a brief dip in the Google ocean turned up this: "The title, Windsor Jambs comes from a road sign I saw somewhere in Connecticut or Western Massachusetts a few years ago. I liked the sound of it as a title and it has come to express somewhat the polyphonic juxtapositions and interweaving of melodic materials that occur in the work."

While I was disappointed to learn he had never actually been to Windsor Jambs, Brown's comment reminded me that when I lived in North Adams in the 1980s, I would often pass the sign for Windsor Jambs while driving in a hurry from one place to another. Each time I would promise myself to take a detour one day and see this wonderfully-named place.

Brown was born in Lunenberg, MA in 1926 and had a lifelong connection to New England. He was a guest composer at Tanglewood in 1968, and I like to think it was during this time that Windsor Jambs worked its magic. The Earle Brown Foundation has great information on his life and work. Susan Phillips