Franklin D. Roosevelt - NARA - 196715
About My FDR Project
by Mark Zuckerman
The Idea
My FDR project is a collection of choral settings from speeches and writings of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There are stand-alone a cappella pieces for advanced singers and a choral suite for college and community choirs. (My catalog also contains vocal chamber music using FDR texts.)
A Cappella Settings
A Beckoning Vision (3'20" ACA) is a setting for a cappella treble chorus of inspirational quotations of FDR.
View Perusal Score Listen Order the music
The Four Freedoms (7'20" ACA) is a work for a cappella men’s chorus on a text adapted from the section (reproduced below) of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address that articulates Four Freedoms which he believed were universal human rights and the core of America’s commitment to the world. Uttered less than a year before the United States’ entry into
World War II, already being fought at the time of the speech in Europe and Asia, The Four Freedoms proposed a vision for a postwar world worthy of the war’s desperate struggle and terrible sacrifice. They remain worthwhile goals today.

This is what FDR said:

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

View Perusal Score Listen Order the Music
FDR's Four Freedoms (10'30" ACA)  is a settings for SATB a cappella of the same text as above.
View Perusal Score Listen Order the Music
We Shall Strive for Perfection (5'30" ACA)  is a work for a cappella mixed chorus on a text adapted from excerpts of speeches by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1945, his last year in office.

From his Fourth Inaugural Address (January 20, 1945):

We shall strive for perfection. We shall not achieve it immediately – but we still shall strive. We may make mistakes – but they must never be mistakes which shall result from from faintness of heart or abandonment of moral principles.

From his undelivered Jefferson Day Address (April 13, 1945), the text FDR was working on when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage:

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.
View Perusal Score Listen Order the Music
If Ever There Was a Time (4' ACA)  is a work for a cappella mixed chorus on a text adapted from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union Address. The message is as relevant today as it was at the time. This is what FDR said:

If ever there was a time to subordinate individual and group selfishness to the national good, that time is now.
View Perusal Score Listen Order the Music
A Better World (choral suite)
A Better World is a suite of choral settings of aspirational and inspirational (non-partisan) epigrammatic quotations from speeches of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, set more as mantras or articles of faith than as narratives or ephemeral utterances.

The pieces in A Better World may be performed individually as well as collectively. If performing a subset, the order of performance should be preserved.

This project is aimed at community and college-level choirs. Singers can learn their parts using these synthesized recordings.

Choral recordings are available for movements with a Listen button.

This is the Time to Speak the Truth (3'30" ) from FDR's first inaugural address, March 4, 1933: Listen

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly.
Repetition Does Not Transform (3'30" )  from FDR's radio address to the New York Herald Tribune Forum, October 26, 1939: Listen

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
Civilization Cannot Go Back (3'15" )  from FDR's State of the Union Address,
January 3, 1934: Listen

Civilization cannot go back; civilization must not stand still... It is our task to perfect, to improve, to alter when necessary, but in all cases to go forward.
There Are Many Ways of Going Forward (2')  (date and place unknown): Listen

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
Without the Help of Thousands (3') combines excerpts from two addresses. The first is from his New York State gubernatorial inaugural address on January 1, 1929: Listen

Without the help of thousands of others, any one of us would die, naked and starved.

The second is from his first presidential inaugural address on March 4, 1933:

We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other;
that we cannot merely take but must give as well.

What the Flag and the Constitution Stand For (3'45") from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech to the Democratic National Convention
on June 27, 1936: Listen

...What the Flag and the Constitution stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy, not tyranny; for freedom, not subjection; and against a dictatorship by mob rule and the overprivileged alike.

A Nation Does Not Have to be Cruel (3'30") from an address at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 31, 1936: Listen

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the resolve of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.

The Test of Our Progress (2'15") from the second inaugural address, January 20, 1937: Listen

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

The Basic Things Expected (3'40") from the State of the Union address, January 6, 1941: Listen

There is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

* Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
* Jobs for those who can work.
* Security for those who need it.
* The ending of special privileges for the few.
* The preservation of civil liberties for all.
* The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

The Real Safeguard of Democracy (3'05") from an address to the National Education Association, June 30, 1938: Listen

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

We Shall Choose a Path of Social Justice (4')  from FDR's campaign address in Detroit, Michigan on October 2, 1932: Listen

We Americans everywhere must and shall choose a path of social justice: the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.
Beyond the Horizon (4'55")  from FDR's Columbus Day speech on hemispheric defense, Dayton, Ohio, October 12, 1940: Listen

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

View Perusal Score Order the Music
  See Complete Catalog