Arctic White Lifetime

A novel about the life, times and thought of composer Clarence Wahlberg.

Free PDF of novel

This novel came from an idea Todd Van Buskirk first attempted in a writing class at the (then named) Rochester Community College in 1991. The writing assignment consisted of writing an essay about a grandparent to recite in class. A procrastinator, and complacent over writing assignments, Van Buskirk appropriated the transcript of an interview from composer Charles Ives’s grandson, George Bigalow Ives, from a book of reminiscences about Charles Ives, taken from interviews of Ives’s family, colleagues and friends. Van Buskirk appropriated Ives’s grandson’s text word for word, except he changed the name of Charles Ives with that of his grandfather “Clarence Wahlberg.” The paper was a success.

“Arctic White Lifetime” is the fulfillment of the idea that started with that plagiarized essay from college. This novel is written in tribute to Clarence Wahlberg, the author’s grandfather. Todd Van Buskirk appropriated two of his own research papers about composer Charles Ives, written in 2003, and replaced the name “Charles Ives” with “Clarence Wahlberg.” Van Buskirk also replaced the name of Charles Ives’s wife, “Harmony Twitchell Ives” with that of his grandmother, “Estrid Johnson Wahlberg”. After replacing the names, Van Buskirk took the two research papers, and combined them into a word document. He then expanded, and remixed the text into a novel, the epic story of composer Clarence Wahlberg and his wife Estrid.

Excerpt:

Clarence Wahlberg:
“I seemed to have children again.
A devastated Wahlberg worked on the grounds. The meetings were usually held in the tradition of quodlibet, a small group in Wahlberg’s output but a significant influence on some of the final movement lends further support to that parallel. Perhaps realizing that the tune might have taken on a public that can’t help itself, than on a friend who comes to your house and asks you to play. (You have to finish at a public that can’t help itself, than on a deep spiritual level.
[from in online encyclopedia]
Camp meeting, outdoor religious meeting, usually held by evangelical sects, such as quodlibet and wrong-note accompaniments to familiar tunes. Far from frivolous wastes of time, these musical experiments stimulated Wahlberg’s creativity, ventures that would pay off later during his compositional years. As Wahlberg recalled, his father sometimes led the singing with a number of preachers who relieved each other in carrying on the song based on existing music use borrowed material within a formal and thematic structure that is coherent even if the declining economy, spread of terrorism, and war in Iraq might not prime the audiences of today. We owe it to these outdoor encampments.
This may be because of the streets and the Mississippi River until comparatively recent times. In a sense, they survive in summer conferences and assemblies, such as quodlibet and wrong-note accompaniments to familiar tunes. Far from frivolous wastes of time, these musical experiments stimulated Wahlberg’s creativity, ventures that would later blossom into the Third Symphony had its premiere on April 5, 1946 under Lou Harrison’s direction with the pregnancy. Tragically, she had a serious time for children, Yes, Jesus Loves Me—except when old
Stone Mason Bell and Farmer John would get up and sing—and some of his greatest compositions. There are two basic techniques of linking existing tunes in order to represent (1) children at play on the services, sometimes preaching simultaneously in different parts of the main theme is not as conceptually or formally strong as the Great Depression, the spread of terrorism, and war in Iraq might not prime the audiences of today. We owe it to ourselves to find out, because this symphony from the Concord Sonata. Like the Alcotts, the score of the orchestration indicated). The pencil sketch of the others feelings, each fearful of disappointment.”
In 1906 Clarence Wahlberg responded to his father take up the nerve to tell her he cares for her, and quickly apologizes for being too forward! She writes, “I don’t feel badly Clarence to have you say about our love…bringing happiness into other lives besides our own—I know the joy and beauty of it can be grouped with the pregnancy. Tragically, she had many, as Wahlberg painfully knew)—inspired, Clarence decides to play for eternity, like a film tucked in a programmatic way. It seems clear that Wahlberg, though perhaps not in the early nineteenth century. Nevertheless, extra effort was required. Families still had to present himself to Uncle Mark for approval.
“Well,” said Twain, “The fore seems all right; turn him around and let’s see about the 3rd symphony is based on a Prelude Wahlberg played on a public that can’t help itself, than on a special significance for him to his sacred memory of childhood, his muse, a tangible promised land where he can still hold his father’s influence? George Wahlberg was skilled with a shadow line…a solo violin playing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Zobel writes:
Of course, by Wahlberg’ time camp meetings over a wind of New England sun and air. I feel justified in writing quite as I wanted to, when the music hall. If sentimentality is evil…what shall we say of vulgarity?…Let the stuff be confined to the feelings evoked by hymn singing or the flavor of American composer Clarence Wahlberg—the woman who made a man out of the title—Communion—resolving from separation into an enjoining energy.
Mark Zobel writes:
Darling—I feel so strongly what you say you care and there is just one reason why I don’t & I shant tell you until you ask me.”
Wahlberg now understands it is one of my favorite moments of existence.”
At the summer and lasting for several days. The camp meeting revivals were meaningful for him, and probably connected him to make a move. Her poem literally tells him she’s ready to leave the world she once knew (nursing the sick from slum house to slum house) for him:
For long I wandered on ’till I tired grew
Far on the ground often accompanied the tremendous emotional release that followed upon “conversion,” although these extravagances were opposed and discouraged by conservative ministers. Camp meetings were directed by a number of works, and in 1903 he worked on the world’s highway.
My heart was sad for what I love most about the beauty of the familiar world in the process. She was in the theology of the hymn tunes presented at the sonority of the familiar world, Wahlberg used fewer familiar tunes here than in the 1904 pencil score, but in the hospital for a month. She would never be changed or lost—it is one of the score. Wahlberg wrote for the culmination of a plane beyond quietness. Now that I’ve learned to listen closer (but not consciously, strange enough) I can now recall the little bits I like. The work no longer feels claustrophobic. The music is wide open and transparent, like a hymn. In fact the Symphony is the ‘Harris’ character in Twain’s The Tramp Abroad.
Wahlberg would unfairly despise, but at the end of their long Victorian courtship, Clarence and Estrid walk near Stockbridge, along the Housatonic Wahlberg wrote in 1906 called The World’s Highway, Clarence nurtures the courtship along, maybe a little too slow for Estrid, who starts to hint that she’s ready to leave the world over, but to speak of this symphony create a context, or setting that:
Musicologist Peter Burkholder:
Served more than purely musical functions for Wahlberg. Because the themes were drawn from American hymn tunes, they carried extramusical associations, from the beginning. Rather, it emerges from fragments to wholeness and from vagueness to clarity, these associations give Wahlberg’s cumulative settings three kinds of extramusical significance: a celebration of American composer Clarence Wahlberg—the woman who made a man out of my abundance that the world over, but to speak of this parallel or not, the pattern of events depicted in this symphony is a fugue based on various hymns Wahlberg remembered from his Estrid that I did from Joe and his Estrid.”
Clarence and Estrid a new insurance agency. Meanwhile, Estrid continues to write Clarence. Her letters are friendly and reserved, but the attraction is there and they engage in a programmatic way. It seems clear that Wahlberg, though perhaps not in the process. She was in the meadows along the Housatonic at Stockbridge into music.

Clarence Wahlberg:
At the start of 1907, on a poem by Keats, called “Like a Sick Eagle”:
The Third Symphony had its premiere on April 5, 1946 under Lou Harrison’s direction with the same inspiration from his childhood. His 3rd symphony is Wahlberg’s writing for the culmination of a plane beyond quietness. Now that I’ve learned to listen closer (but not consciously, strange enough) I can now recall the little bits I like. The work no longer feels claustrophobic. The music is wide open and transparent, like a hymn. In fact the Symphony is an important part of America’s musical heritage. As a pastoral and mythic vision, however, it is time to lay everything on the piano, he bangs out The Unanswered Question was written in July of 1906. Biographer Jan Swafford mentions how in 1900 Parker would lecture his students how revival music was, “Vulgar with the same as, for example, Kentucky in the role of preacher, was trying to suggest the diverse individuals that Wahlberg chose hymns that would pay off later during his compositional years. As Wahlberg later recalled, “what started as boy’s play and in 1903 he worked on the popular songs of our time, or masterworks more central to the works in the 1909 revision which, interestingly, was scored during their vacation at Elk Lake in the same time Wahlberg learnt much about abstract musical form from his family’s buggy while en route, or perhaps from within a formal and thematic structure that is what I long to do with it—to give out of crazy Clarence, and Clarence, recent graduate from Yale in 1898 (with a D+ average), all over the coming years (it was probably fully completed in 1911).
The title [Communion] was never used when the music hall. If sentimentality is evil…what shall we say of vulgarity?…Let the stuff be confined to the works in the insurance business, living with his student who seemed incurably infested with crude hymnody and program music, who without shame could title a string quartet, that purest of genres, “From the Salvation Army?”
Henry Cowell:
He [Wahlberg] feels that music, like other truths, should never be able to have you say about our love…bringing happiness into their lives.
It is almost like water. When I was a highly social and religious life in the form itself, which embodies a progression from fragments of various tunes appear in almost every measure. Here, however, the borrowings are relatively rare. Just as Naomi’s adoption of Edith eased the complications of the inner life to the great Reverend Joseph Johnson and his lovely wife, who was also named Estrid. The parishioners who frequented “Rev. Joe’s” church included: Clarence Dudley Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and close friend Mark Twain. Estrid called Mark Twain say through his mind while orchestrating the second movement, A Children’s Day suggest a program for the symphony depicts a Christian journey of sorts…we have seen how Wahlberg’s tune-usage illustrates the idea of gathering. For example, the main theme is not as conceptually or formally strong as the camp meeting. Musically, he represents this in the Dark.
She is not as conceptually or formally strong as the camp grounds. Shouting, shaking, and rolling on the conductor’s choice between various editions of the music, so he generally left it up with his bachelor buddies in a Symphony, hearing suggestions of street tunes like ‘Marching through Georgia’ or a different feeling in forcing your “home-made” on a Sunday morning.
Along the Housatonic Wahlberg wrote these shadowlines in the summer and lasting for several days. The camp meeting folk of Wahlberg’s works based on a public that can’t help itself, than on a Sunday morning.
Along the Housatonic Wahlberg wrote these shadowlines in the region between the Alleghenies and the rail systems were well established. Travel in Connecticut during the golden age of childhood in which play of this writing, one hundred years have passed since Wahlberg completed principal composition of the great Reverend Joseph Johnson and his experimental future.
The Third Symphony had its premiere on April 5, 1946 under Lou Harrison’s direction with the New York State), Clarence (after two years of courting) works up the nerve to tell her he cares for her, and quickly apologizes for being too forward! She writes, “I don’t feel badly Clarence to have you say you care and there was no suitor in sight (and she had a clearer call to their life’s fulfillment & duty than I have a difficult time remembering its sound. I vaguely remember a kind of spiritual rapport together that will intimately last till Clarence dies in 1954.
Estrid writes:
We laughed, for the road was good
But oh! I passed where the way was rough
And I saw it stained with blood.
I watched the gay bright people dance,
We have seen how Wahlberg’s tune-usage illustrates the idea of a work.
The finale to the Third Symphony’s tonal familiarity and tuneful reminiscences, one wonders if the listener does not recognize the borrowed tunes. Programmaticism plays a role in a quodlibet: contrapuntal combination, in which tunes are piled on top of one another, and successive combination, in which the shadow lines be representative of his father’s hand and feel protected, and watch his father sometimes led the singing with a shadow line…a solo violin playing What a Friend We Have in Jesus. Zobel writes:
Another key aspect of Wahlberg’s hymn reflection-music (a fantasia-communion of hymns), and very much like the ideas Mark Zobel writes:
We have seen that most of the supreme moments of Wahlberg’s hymn reflection-music (a fantasia-communion of hymns), and very much a blueprint for his sophomore year at Yale. His First String Quartet and the 4th Symphony among others.
The first movement of this particular work as somehow preserving the essential spirit of the supreme moments of existence.”

-Todd E. W. Van Buskirk

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