“Henry David Thoreau was a great musician,” wrote Charles Ives in “Essays Before a Sonata,” his ruminative preface to his “Concord” Sonata. That was so, Ives held, not because of whatever facility Thoreau possessed in conventional music making, but because “he did not have to go to Boston to hear ‘the Symphony.’ The rhythm of his prose, were there nothing else, would determine his value as a composer. He was divinely conscious of the enthusiasm of Nature, the emotion of her rhythms and the harmony of her solitude.”
Oddly for such a dazzling musician of the written word, musical works inspired by Thoreau are rare. The most famous is the fourth movement of the “Concord,” the last of its evocations of New England transcendentalists.