Robert Strassburg’s The Heritage of Heaven, a biblical suite for string orchestra, was composed at the MacDowell Colony in1946 and premiered in 1955 at a program honoring the American Jewish centenary. The present revised version dates to 1993, when Strassburg revised it for a performance by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, conducted by its director, Noreen Green.
The four movements were inspired by biblical quotations from Moses, David, Job, and Isaiah.
I. The Greatest Love: The opening Andante is reverential in character, reflecting Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love adonai, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might!”
II. The Questing Disciple: The second movement, Allegro moderato, is a chorale prelude in which King David, as “the Psalmist,” is represented in the celli and basses (“Lord, who shall dwell upon Your holy mountain? He who walks upright and does righteously, and speak truth in his heart.” Ps. 15:1, 2).
III. Shadows of Life and Death: Here, a solo viola gives voice to Job’s great lament, “My harp is tuned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.” (Job 31). This is supported by somber, muted strings.
IV. Chariots Like a Whirlwind: The intensity and driving power of the concluding Allegro molto arise out of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariot shall be like the whirlwind.”
“Each movement aims at expressing the oneness of the outer and inner experience,” Strassburg wrote, “suggested by the extreme concentration of the passage quoted.” In that spirit he viewed each movement as an extricable piece that could be performed independently of the others.
Performers: Oxford Philomusica; Marios Papadopoulos, Conductor
Don't miss our latest releases, podcasts, announcements and giveaways throughout the year! Stay up to date with our newsletter.