Orchard House

Orchard House was the home of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. I was introduced to Orchard House when I was at college studying Charles Ives's Essays Before a Sonata, which he wrote in conjunction with one of the great 20th century American masterworks for the piano, the Concord Sonata

Ives (1874-1954) was a musical experimentalist of the highest order. Many modern compositional techniques now considered mainstream were developed by Ives, though precious few of his pieces were performed in his lifetime. The professional musicians he hired to play would often leave in disgust or frustration, saying that his music was unplayable and unlistenable. Ives turned to business as living, and was an insurance executive by day and composer by night.

The Concord Sonata is in four movements, each of which is named for figures of the transcendentalist movement in Concord, Massachusetts (Emerson, Hawthorne, The Alcotts, and Thoreau). In the chapter concerning The Alcotts in Essays Before a Sonata, he writes, "There is a commonplace beauty about "Orchard House"--a kind of spiritual sturdiness underlying its quaint picturesqueness--a kind of common triad of the New England homestead, whose overtones tell us that there must have been something aesthetic fibered in the Puritan severity--the self-sacrificing part of the ideal--a value that seems to stir a deeper feeling, a stronger sense of being nearer some perfect truth than a Gothic cathedral or an Etruscan villa." (You can watch Leonard Bernstein give an excellent introductory talk about Ives here).

I've always liked that phrase, "spiritual sturdiness," and thought the above quote was something to aspire to and possibly use if ever I were to start a media company.

Quite a while ago, I asked a friend of mine, Laurie Richardson Johnson, to create a logo based on that quote, and she came up with the beautiful, simple and recognizable image that I've used since 1981.