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ORCHESTRAL

Piano Concerto, Mvt 1

CHAMBER MUSIC WITH PIANO

Suite for Recorder and Piano

Postlude For Trio

SOLO WORKS

Prelude for Piano

Zwei Kleine Pückstückchenleine

Diatonic Study for Harp

Chromatic Study for Harp

SPECIAL MICROTONAL WORKS

Excerpt from "Nine Preludes"

Excerpt from "Nine Preludes"​

Study on the 7th partial for woodwind quintet

Excerpt from 2nd Woodwind Quintet

Dream Songs

SONG CYCLES

The Falling Of The Leaves: 10. Under Ben Bulben, IV

A Wind of Fall: 4. Twilight Of The Wood

LIGHT AND SHADE

Shadows

Clava

What the Greek Sun Did To Me

Cluny Unicorn Tapestries

With Primeval Candor: Girl With Cello

With Primeval Candor: A Glass of Water

With Primeval Candor: The Lady and the Unicorn

With Primeval Candor: Evening Music

With Primeval Candor: Invocation

Quiet Homecoming: Homecoming

SMALL GROUPS OF SONGS

Borne by Warm Breezes: 1. Nocturne

Borne by Warm Breezes: 2. Words

Borne by Warm Breezes: 3. Refuge

INDIVIDUAL SONGS

Pretty Halcyon Days

Les Pas

WORKS FOR CHORUS

A Christmas message

The Cloisters

Psalm 121

Easter Scene From The Village

DRAMATIC WORKS

The Dybbuk

The village

Maman's First Aria

Maman's Second Aria

Maman's Third Aria

Maman's Fourth Aria

Tea and Empathy

Conversationalist

I'll Have To Start Looking Around Again

Make Up A Word

Finale

performing others' works

Brahms Liebeslieder #8

Brahms Liebeslieder #17

Mahler Song Recital (1968)

Gingheit Morgen ubers Feld

Ablösung im Sommer

Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt

Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?

O Mensch gib Acht

Revelge

Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft

Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen

Um Mitternach

Lob des hohen Verstandes

Mozart & Sousa: Die Sterne und Striche auf immer

Access to Queens college podcasts

Text (by Leonie Adams)

HOMECOMING
When I stepped homeward to my hill,
Dusk went before with quiet tread;
The bare laced branches of the trees
Were as a mist about its head
(a mist about its head).
Upon its leaf-brown breast the rocks
Like great grey sheep lay silentwise;
Between the birch trees’ gleaming arms
The faint stars trembled in the skies.
The white brook met me halfway down,
And laughed as one that knew me well.
To whose more clear than crystal voice
The frost had joined a crystal spell.
The skies lay like pale-watered deep;
Dusk ran before me to its strand;
And cloudily leaned forth to touch
The moon’s slow wonder with her hand.

This is the concluding song of my 12 th song cycle (my second consisting entirely of Ms. Adams’
poems). Leonie Adams’ work would probably have been unknown to me had she not been a
college roommate and lifelong friend of my mother’s, but her work was also recognized and
highly praised by such notables in the field as Edmund Wilson and Edna St. Vincent Millay. This
poem reminds me of Eichendorf’s magnificent “Mondnacht”. Should the song appear to have
some superficial resemblance to Schumann’s setting of that poem, do not hold it against me.
Leonie Adams was born too late to have Schumann set her poetry but that doesn’t mean that a
setting reminiscent of Schumann’s style isn’t called for to do justice to the spiritually fulfilling
tranquility of this wondrous poem.
This performance is by Kathryn Wieckhorst, who was both the lead singer and co-producer of
the 2023 Hamburg performance of The Village. You can also hear her singing the Kaddish
during the Easter scene of The Village in the Choral music section of LISTEN on this site.

These two Pückstückchenleine were written for Ellen in the early 1960’s.  Laura Leon, whose work I have admired ever since she was a student at Queens College in the 1970’s, having discovered these pieces in the 2020’s decided to make this recording and combine it with samples of Ellen’s art.

 Lob des hohen Verstandes

Einstmals in einem tiefen Tal
Kukuk und Nachtigall
täten ein’ Wett’ anschlagen.
Zu singen um das Meisterstück,
gewinn’ es Kunst, gewinn’ es Glück!
Dank soll er davon tragen.

Der Kukuk sprach: „So dir’s gefällt,
hab’ ich den Richter wählt,“
und tät gleich den Esel ernennen.
„Denn weil er hat zwei Ohren groß,
so kann er hören desto bos,
und, was recht ist, kennen!“

Sie flogen vor den Richter bald.
Wie dem die Sache ward erzählt,
schuf er, sie sollten singen!

Die Nachtigall sang lieblich aus!
Der Esel sprach: „Du machst mir’s kraus!
Du machst mir’s kraus! Ija! Ija!
Ich kann’s in Kopf nicht bringen!“

Der Kukuk drauf fing an geschwind
sein Sang durch Terz und Quart und Quint.
Dem Esel g’fi els, er sprach nur:
„Wart! Wart! Wart!
Dein Urteil will ich sprechen,
ja sprechen.

Wohl sungen hast du, Nachtigall!
Aber Kukuk, singst gut Choral!
Und hältst den Takt fein innen!
Das sprech’ ich nach mein’ hoh’n Verstand,
und kost’ es gleich ein ganzes Land,
so laß ich’s dich gewinnen, gewinnen!“
Kukuk, kukuk! Ija!

 

 

 

 

Once in a deep valley

Cuckoo and nightingale agreed to a contest

Over who could sing better.

 

The cuckoo said, “May it please you,

I have already selected the judge”

And he named the donkey.

“Because his ears are so big

He can hear better.”

 

They soon appeared before the judge.

After everything was explained to him

He told the two to sing.

 

The nightingale sang beautifully

But the donkey said, “You make me cross,

You make me cross, hee-haw!

I just can’t figure it out!”

 

The cuckoo then began

His little song of thirds and fourths.

The donkey, pleased, said

“Wait. I will pronounce my judgement.

 

“Although you, nightingale did not disgrace yourself,

You, cuckoo sang a fine chorale

And you kept the beat precisely.

And so, with full confidence in my judgement,

Whatever the consequence may be,

I declare you the winner.”

“Cuckoo, cuckoo”  “Hee-haw!”

 

 

Elegy

Scherzo

Romance

Galliard

Pastorale

 

These five pieces were written in the 1970’s for the sisters Judy and Randee Berman.  They were nicknamed Dia and Mia respectively.  Judy soon dropped the nickname, but Randee kept hers ever since.  Several of the pieces feature themes built on the notes D-A and E(mi)-A.  The suite was not performed in its entirety until 2018 in the performance shown here, more than 40 years after it had been written for her.   In the interim, I didn’t push for performances, in part because I initially regarded the musical style of the pieces as outdated---as more a concession to the tastes of its recipients than as my own.   Over time, as I have felt more independent of the style makers of our day, I have come to see these recorder pieces as more in the mainstream of my output.

 

The scherzo and galliard movements are in three-part form with contrasting middle sections which would be traditionally called trios.

Dream Songs Texts by Judyth Robin Woolfe

 

I.

flower opens

and you’re

inside (pink and

roselike)

jump in and

swim together

do you hear the

flower echo?

whispering petals

softly drift.

 

flower closes

and we’re

still (inside.)

 

ii.

a blue, green dream

swam in my head

and I clutched soft warm

flesh. (carefully your

finger

knees and thighs

these crept slowly while

my dream died.)

 

iii.

legs entwining

purple thoughts swim through my eyes

as redlipstouchmine.

sweet day

open wheat field

filled with blue pieces of sky and

clover. daisies. buttercups.

in bluegrass with you. plump sky.

smiling clouds: always for.

I was brought into the world of 31-tone temperament by the great Dutch mathematician-physicist, Adriaan D. Fokker, who, in response to my inquiries, invited me to Haarlem to try to compose using the 31-tone pipe organ he had designed and which was installed at the Teyler Stichting.  I have generally regarded my relatively small microtonal output as experimental:  attempts to do a bit of “re-foresting” after all the clear-cutting of traditional tonality the masters of 19th century music were alleged to have indulged in.   With these texts, however, I finally felt that I was trying to center my work with the intervals of 31-tone temperament into the rest of my creativity.  I worked them out entirely at the 31-tone organ in Haarlem, though intending from the start that a version could be developed in the more conventional tuning.

I found these poems a splendid fit for the unprecedented consonances 31-tone tuning provides for the major third (5:4) and minor seventh (7:4).  I hoped to provide a piece that facilitated the integration of the new resources of 31-tone temperament with the intervals and harmonies that 12-tone tuning accustomed one to.  I hoped the songs might start a trend.  Fifty years later, they stand in isolation. With new microtonal instruments being constructed and their use proliferating, a kind of chaos of microtonal possibilities is being explored and the idea of somehow tying microtonal evolution to traditional modes of hearing seems, if anything, farther off than it did in 1970.  Nonetheless, these short songs, more than the experimental pieces in 19- and 31-tone temperament, stand as my principal contribution to the exploration of expressive possibilities beyond the realm of 12-tone equal temperament.

 

The three poems are by Judyth Robin Woolfe.  The 1977 performance is by Lisa Hest, soprano;  Bouw Lemkes and Jeanne Lemkes Vos, violins; Anton DeBeer, archifoon.   The Lemkes duo specialized in quarter-comma temperament and the 31-tone scale that resulted from carrying the quarter-comma tempered fifth to full circle.

Queens College was fortunate enough to have a great president in Saul Cohen.  Among his many achievements was persuading the State Government to authorize and fund a much needed new building for the Music Department despite the opposition of the Chancellor of the City University.   We have always assumed that Cohen’s resignation, offered and accepted shortly after the building was approved, was forced by the Chancellor.  In gratitude to Cohen, the Music Department staged a farewell reception for him, with live music featuring a graduate student string quartet which we wished to bring to the public’s attention.

 

Our Chairman, Rufus Hallmark, in planning the program, asked Pres. Cohen to name his favorite composers, with a thought to building a program around them.  Cohen mentioned Mozart and John Philip Sousa.  The rest will be explained by the introductory talk as you listen.

 

After the performance has ended, the track continues with a performance of the Romance for String Trio (work 041).

When, in the late 1960’s, word of my enthusiasm for Mahler got around, a number of students requested that I give a course on his music.  This course, given only once in all the years I was at Queens College, attracted several superb singers, and so it was decided that each of the two-a-week classes should begin with a live performance of a Mahler song.  I had the pleasure of rehearsing the singers and accompanying them on the piano. While the three singers enrolled in the course, Lisa (Rosenbaum) Hest, Emilia (Simone) Westney and George Hesse did most of the singing, several visitors supplemented their performances, among them Elliot Z. Levine, later a leader of the West Wind ensemble.    As the ending of the semester approached, it was decided that a recital of some of the songs be given…an open date was found, word was spread, and an enthusiastic audience assembled.   Here is the complete concert, recorded in Rathaus Hall by David Barnes.   The songs span the gamut of Mahler’s mature works. They are:

 

  1. From Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen:  Ging heut' Morgen über's Feld sung by Ms. Hest
  2. From des Knaben Wunderhorn:  Ablosung im Sommer sung by Ms. Westney
  3. “ “  Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt  (Westney)
  4. “ “    Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht?   (Westney)
  5. From the Third Symphony  O Mensch gib Acht         (Hest)
  6. From des Knaben Wunderhorn:  Revelge    sung by Mr. Hesse
  7. From the Ruckert Lieder “    Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft (Westney)
  8. “ “                         Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (Hest)
  9. “ “                          Um Mitternacht                              (Hesse)

As unlisted encore;

  1. From des Knaben Wunderhorn: Lob des hohen Verstandes   (Westney, Hesse, Hest)

 

Queens College has made podcasts of most of its concerts since 2005.  They are arranged chronologically.  You can hear the works on the following list by accessing the website via this link: https://qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/music/concerts/

These are student performances recorded for archival purposes which may limit their aesthetic quality.  The following list enables you to access these performances of my works, arranged as in the catalog by genre.  

 

QC-  PODCAST List- BY CATEGORY

A. ORCHESTRAL

  1. In Marian Woods*(Mystic Rose Window) 2/8/06

B. CHAMBER MUSIC W/O PIANO

41. Romance for String Trio (vn.vn.va.) 11/17/17

79. Duo Sonata Vn & Vc 12/9/11

80. Fish on the Rocks- Cl & Perc. 5/14/07

80. “               “          - *                        4/1/15

88. Loss & Remembrance (Str. Trio) 3/8/13

99.Wedding Piece for Clare & Charles (Vc & V 5/16/06

 

CHAMBER MUSIC W/ PIANO

5. Sonata for Flute and Piano 9/30/16

15. Song for Oboe and Piano 4/28/06

56. Sonata for Two Pianos  2/28/17

72. R.Azrael’s Prayers, vc.&Pf. 10/12/12

112. Waiting for the Thaw i. 10/12/12

118B. Postlude for Vn.Vc.&Pf.     10/12/12

 

E. SPECIAL MICROTONAL WORKS

53. Study on the 7th Partial (ww. Qnt.) 3/18/13

F. FULL SONG CYCLES

18. Cycle #1: Fatal Interview (Millay)                                 11/16/09

27. Cycle #2:* #’s 3,4,6,7,9,10. (Yeats)                                 12/9/11

45. Cycle #5* A Wind of Fall,  Twilight of the Wood          10/12/12

65. Cycle #6 Light and Shade (Fox)                                          4/20/16

68. Cycle #9: In Deep Woods (Frost)                                 10/12/12Cycle #12

96. Quiet Homecoming (Adams)                        11/16/09

96. “ “ final song only 3/8/13

101. Cycle #13 The Past is Now (Sarton)                         5/14/12

111. Cycle #14 The Flamenco Dancer (Ethelsdattir) 11/16/09

120.  Cycle 15 The Face of Things (Goodman)                    5/5/15

124. Cycle 17 In the Andes (Fox)  5/8/19

 

G. SMALL GROUPS OF SONGS

 

H. SHORT SONG COLLECTIONS

 

I. INDIVIDUAL SONGS

 

J. WORKS FOR CHORUS

11.   Mass                                                                                 12/16/14

21B.  Psalm 121                                                                    12/9/11

“ “                                                                                               2/6/12

30A.  An Eternity                        (MacLeish)                        4/7/14

30C. Mistral Over the Graves (MacLeish)                      4/7/14

37.  The Everlasting Voices   (Yeats)                                4/7/14

48. The Cloisters, Ft. Tryon Park  (Yellen)                      4/17/08

“     “                                                                                   5/8/08

60  The Farm  (MacLeish)                                                 4/7/14

WoO   The Lady Thinks She’s Thirty  (Nash)                 11/34/09

61  The Edge of Song (Fox)                                               4/7/14

  1. 40th Anniversary Hymn (Holmes) 4/7/14
  2. Sunset Concert in Ste. Chapelle (Fox) 2/28/09

K. OPERAS

12.  The Man in the Man-Made Moon                          4/15/15

86. The Village

Maman’s Arias 1,2 &4                                                4/19/12

Act  II scene 2                                                                4/7/14

36. The Dybbuk

Scenes and Arias                                                         10/24/17

 

 

 

 

 

* = excerpts only

 

 

Written in 1950, this performance, by Jeffrey Wagner was made in 2022.

III. Refuge

I was born

On an island in the spring

To the sound of waves

Constantly rolling

And my first memory

Of a warm breeze

And the current

Swirling about my knees

Still echo in my mind

With the cries of the gulls.

I still see the shining

Of the ships’ hulls

Pulling into  port

And then departing

Into the horizon

As I stood watching

On the beach,

Dreaming of other lands;

But my feet were planted,

Immovable in the sand.

Here I remain

And I still look to the sea

And those who return  from beyond

Tell me never to leave.

IV. CLUNY UNICORN TAPESTRIES

Pieta: virgin’s innocent  desire

to keep the magic beast of a single horn

who awkward on her lap  seeks riper fruit,

seeks acorn from the oak, seeks blooms

of rose  and berry, seeks birdsong.

She holds her mirror up to hold his face.

 

She of high faith, to mediate desire,

plays airs on an organ wet with gilded blooms.

The lion hears,  the fair beast turns his horn,

even the handmaid listens, though her face

looks worn by years of tending others’ fruit.

The virgin, playing, dreams another song.

 

Carnations color of flesh and of flesh-desire

she weaves to a chaplet for her chaste beast’s horn.

Mayflowers grow in this garden of autumn fruit

where the magpie teaches the heron its busy song,

but she from such present joys averts her face.

She twines, but only her monkey smells the blooms.

 

She calls for sweetmeats to allay desire

that she herself, distracted, does not face.

Into her garden fenced by thick roseblooms

she summons small ones, thrushes from their song,

magic foals too young yet for a horn.

They,  not she, shall taste her lavish fruit.

 

Dame militant, defending pure desire,

straps heavy shields to her stalwarts, sets her face

past all earthly comforts, past birdsong,

past the feel  of her velvet gown, past wine,  past fruit.

Her pets she collars tight among the blooms.

She fondles without feeling her fair beast’s horn.

 

The lion craves the blood of her beast of a single horn.

The little ones yearn to taste her sweet-blown fruit.

The maid sighs for her garland of rich blooms.

The hawk and duck envy her graceful song.

The unicorn would die to see joy in her face.

She trades them all for jewels of abstract desire.

 

All who desire her blooms, fruit, song

are checked by the sad forbearance in the face

of the fair one faithful to faith, the lady of stones.

 

 

Cluny Unicorn Tapestries provided a particularly challenging and welcome task: to find musical ways of responding to the beautifully strict sestina which Ms. Fox has attached to the six tapestries.  I found that in setting this poem to music I was joining what was already a three-way communication between the tapestry designer, the lady depicted, and Ms. Fox.  There is awe and admiration in both the tapestry designer’s and Ms. Fox’s regard for the Lady.  There is also regret in Ms. Fox’s reaction to the Lady’s missed joys.  Did the tapestry designer share Ms. Fox’s regret at the depicted virgin’s foregoing the earthly joys?  How much of this regret should I convey in the music?  Should I try to suppress it?  Magnify it?

 

The sestina is a poetic form from about the same location and period as the tapestries.  Each of its six stanzas contains six lines.  Six syllables are selected which must end every line, the order of placement of syllables to lines changing from stanza to stanza in a prescribed way.  There is a three-line coda which is supposed to use all six of the syllables but end with a new syllable. The six stanzas of the sestina also correspond to the senses conveyed in the tapestries and represented by Susan’s chosen line-ending syllables: face, song, blooms, fruit, horn,, desire.

Responding to the sestina form, I gave a specific pitch to each of the six syllables, letting Ms. Fox’s line structure determine the drift of the music from key to key, around the central scale F major-D minor (the major-minor ambiguity seeming appropriate for the combination of admiration and regret in the poem).  The six syllable-matching notes that I use to end every line of the poem are the six pitches in F major except for the tonic note, F itself, which is reserved for the coda.   Obviously, a lot of planning went into composing this piece to make all the parts of the puzzle fit.  Imagine my delight when, completely unanticipated until it happened on its own, the D major chord which, in a sense, happily cancels all the issues between F major and D minor, arose spontaneously out of the surrounding music.

III. WHAT THE GREEK SUN DID TO ME

Turned my hair copper

And thick as a bull-dancer’s,

wound it with silver.

Glazed my skin amber.

Kneaded all angles of expression

till my face turned mirror

to the easy sea

and my limbs went liquid

and no one who spoke to me

stiffened me.

Turned blood to honey

vibrating still

to the distant swarm

of all your pulsings.

Turned blood to honey.

II. CLAVA

Brothers, I do not mean to try

the impulses that raised

these terraced cairns,

to stir the grass so many generations from your dust.

 

Sisters, I do not mean to make mysterious

your labors and your strivings

interred within these broken mounds

and finally set free here.

 

I mean to sit in the shadow of the topmost stones,

my body cooled after long walking by the cool wall you raised,

and watch the elastic northern clouds

stretch thin across the sky,

and smell the larkspur,

and feel the breeze pass

from beeches

which are the sisters and the brothers of your grove.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. SHADOWS

We didn’t know what we fled.

It didn’t threaten us,

it didn’t tease us,

it didn’t even loom, if loom implies intent.

We’d been so easy in our pastoral sea,

we two surrounded by grazing fish,

by four o’clock sunlight firing the anemones,

by slight waves like slight breezes on our flesh.

I never saw the shadow that alarmed you

but I fled in your fear,

beating at the sea,

gasping water, gasping air,

thrashing through the unresponsive fields.

For years we’ve laughed at that foolish panic.

Tonight we learned the island’s ringed with sharks.

INFO:   LIGHT AND SHADE

 

This cycle was composed on the request of Margaret Willig, who was planning to include the world-class oboist Ronald Roseman in her debut recital and sought an additional group of songs with oboe obbligato.   I had only recently met Susan Fox, having become acquainted with her poetry through my due diligence as a member of the tenure committee at Queens College.  Our collaboration on the opera, The Village, was still undreamed of.

 

I was particularly attracted to those of her poems that seemed to carry an inner music needing only a gentle composer’s intercession to burst forth as fully conceived songs.   Shadows sings on the printed page as  a bow form (A B A), an agitato with a lyrical mid-section.  Clava is set as a bar form (A A B), holding its form even as the music seeks wider scope.   What the Greek Sun Did to Me renders the protagonist sufficiently passive as to suggest that the music’s continuity should ride in the accompaniment rather than in the voice.

 

Cluny Unicorn Tapestries provided a particularly challenging and welcome task: to find musical ways of responding to the beautifully strict sestina which Ms. Fox has attached to the six tapestries.  I found that in setting this poem to music I was joining what was already a three-way communication between the tapestry designer, the lady depicted, and Ms. Fox.  There is awe and admiration in both the tapestry designer’s and Ms. Fox’s regard for the Lady.  There is also regret in Ms. Fox’s reaction to the Lady’s missed joys.  Did the tapestry designer share Ms. Fox’s regret at the depicted virgin’s foregoing the earthly joys?  How much of this regret should I convey in the music?  Should I try to suppress it?  Magnify it?

 

The sestina is a poetic form from about the same location and period as the tapestries.  Each of its six stanzas contains six lines.  Six syllables are selected which must end every line, the order of placement of syllables to lines changing from stanza to stanza in a prescribed way.  There is a three-line coda which is supposed to use all six of the syllables but end with a new syllable. The six stanzas of the sestina also correspond to the senses conveyed in the tapestries and represented by Susan’s chosen line-ending syllables: face, song, blooms, fruit, horn,, desire.

Responding to the sestina form, I gave a specific pitch to each of the six syllables, letting Ms. Fox’s line structure determine the drift of the music from key to key, around the central scale F major-D minor (the major-minor ambiguity seeming appropriate for the combination of admiration and regret in the poem).  The six syllable-matching notes that I use to end every line of the poem are the six pitches in F major except for the tonic note, F itself, which is reserved for the coda.   Obviously, a lot of planning went into composing this piece to make all the parts of the puzzle fit.  Imagine my delight when, completely unanticipated until it happened on its own, the D major chord which, in a sense, happily cancels all the issues between F major and D minor, arose spontaneously out of the surrounding music.

This recording is by the group that premiered this work: Margaret Willig, soprano; Ronald Roseman, oboe and English horn; Margaret Singer, piano.

 

 

# 17  sung by George Hesse

Nicht wandle, mein Licht, dort außen

Im Flurbereich!

Die Füße würden dir, die zarten,

Zu naß, zu weich.

All überströmt sind die Wege,

Die Stege dir,

So überreichlich tränte dorten

Das Auge mir.

Do not wander, my love

Do not wander, my love

Among the flowers.

Your tender feet will become  too wet.

Overflowing the paths

Upon which you step

Are tears from my eyes.

When my colleague, Paul Maynard, went on leave, I was given the Queens College Vocal Ensemble to conduct.  I particularly enjoyed the chance to conduct the 18 Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes with Hadassah Guttmann and Linda Dan at the piano.  For this site, I have selected the 8th and 17th.  The performances of those two seemed most unique. You will probably not hear the lingering on suspended tones in the 8th waltz in any other performance.   I have also selected the 17th to enable listeners to hear the voice of George Hesse, who died far too young.  As his baritone voice was the best in our ensemble, this song, originally for tenor, was transposed from Db to Bb. Something of its vulnerability is lost in this transposition, but a consoling warmth is gained in exchange.  Besides George Hesse among the performers, Linda Dan also died tragically young.

Text of Liebeslieder #8

 

Wenn so lind dein Aug mir

Und so lieblich schauet –

Jede letzte Trübe fliehet,

Welche mich umgrauet.

Dieser Liebe schöne Glut,

Laß sie nicht verstieben!

Nimmer wird, wie ich, so true

Dich ein andrer lieben.

When you gaze at me

When you gaze at me

So beautifully and lovingly

All worries that darken  my life flee

.May the beautiful glow of this love

Not be allowed to die.

Never will you find a love

As true as mine.

FINALE

 

It’s pleasant, isn’t it? Love conquers all

No worries present, we’re having a ball

No more traumas getting into horrible jams

We can start to study for hour exams

And when the time comes to say goodnight

We know that everything will be all right

Because it’s pleasant   etc. etc.

MAKE UP A WORD

 

“Love” has me worried. It bothers and bothers

My sense of what’s mawkish, like “mothers” and “fathers”

And “home” also “nature”.  Oh why must it be

That “love”, that old word, keeps occurring to me?

Make up a word, a delicate word, that’s never been heard or read,

Meaning “moon above” and “thinking of”, a new word for “love”

Fresh and quaint and well-bred.

Could we but find a more delicate mot

That would be less offensive to delicate sense

Not too trite, not to sticky, but yet so he’ll know

That I love my true love with a love that’s immense!

Make up a word, a delicate word, that’s never been heard or written

Meaning “moon above” and “thinking of” a new word for “love”

So that he’ll know that I’m smitten.

I’LL HAVE TO START LOOKING AROUND AGAIN

 

I might as well admit that I’m glum; my romance now is a wreck.

No matter how you may slice it, chum: love is a pain in the neck.

I’ll have to start looking around again, now that he’s gone away.

I’ll have to start going to jolly-ups looking interesting and gay.

I’ll have to start talking to girls in the dorm who have brothers at M.I.T.

If I meet an old beau, I will just let him know that I’m perfectly, perfectly free.

Oh, won’t it be jolly, and won’t it be fun to be flirting with lots of new men?

Although it seems now that there is only one, I’ll be falling in love again.

Tea and Empathy Texts:  by Dorothea Schmidt Wender

 

CONVERSATIONALSIT

 

It’s strange, we’ve never met before.  What Gen Ed courses did you say you were taking?

Humanities 3 and Nat Sci 4. What kind of grades did you say you’re making?

B’ and C’s; I work less than I should.  And from what town did you say you came?

Just 3 miles north of Englewood.

Oh, do you know a boy, I forget his name, with a medium build and clothes that don’t fit?

I think I know the one you mean.  Small world, isn’t it?  Just now I’m beginning to see---

That as a conversationalist you’re fine. You have interesting things to say.

Your thoughts seem to coincide with mine, although we only met today.

You’ve a knack for using the perfect word that expresses what I’ve been thinking, too.

You use the best metaphors I’ve heard. I really like to talk with you.

And although I’m far from knowing, I think that something’s growing In a rather exciting way

For the thoughts that you relate to me sound strangely fresh and great to me

I like everything that you say!

And I feel that presently there will grow  a healthy relationship for us two

For I’d really like to get to know a conversationalist like you!

 

 

 

 

INFO regarding Tea and Empathy Selections

 

Though eager to try my hand at writing a score for a musical comedy, I had avoided Harvard’s organization sponsoring original musicals, the Hasty Pudding Club, in part because their casts were all-male and in part because rumors drifted about their being anti-Semitic.  It was only after I graduated that my attention was drawn toward the other musicale-producing organization, Drumbeats and Song, a Radcliffe group that annually produced a show.  A single Harvard person had been responsible for the music during my undergraduate years, but now competition had been thrown open.  Dorothea Schmidt Wender, whom I had known from undergraduate days, wanted me to write a score for a show for which she was writing the book and libretto.  A very clever show called Eiffel Trifle with words and music by Jesse Barnett demonstrated that Drumbeats and Song sought and nurtured quality work.  On learning that Mr. Barnett was not going to compete for the 1956 show, I entered the fray and worked closely with Dory as she finished the libretto.  The story was local:  two distinguished guests are feted on different occasions, one a fashionable poet; the other a potential mega-donor.   It happens that their children meet and fall in love.  When the poet and the donor learn of the other’s involvement with the College, they recoil…each despises the other’s reputation.  Their quarrel spreads to their children who break off their relationship.    Later their relationship is restored and other happy surprises occur before the final curtain falls.

 

Because the final rehearsal dates coincided with my production of the Man in the Man-Made Moon, I had to turn the music direction over to my assistant, an aspiring undergraduate named Joe Raposo.  Joe later achieved considerable fame as the composer of many of the Muppets’ songs.   You will hear him at the piano in the four songs I have selected, which trace the paths of the two young lovers.   The first shows them falling in love; the second shows her looking for options during the break-up; the third shows her trying to find the right word to express her feelings to him as she is ready to resume their relationship; the fourth is the finale, based on an earlier song: “It’s pleasant, isn’t it? Being in Love.”

PRETTY HALCYON DAYS    Text  by Ogden Nash

 

It’s pleasant to lie on the beach, On the beach, in the sand, in the sun,

With ocean galore within reach, And nothing at all to be done:

No letters to answer, no bills to be burned,

No work to be done, no cash to be earned.

It’s pleasant to lie on the beach, with nothing at all to be done.

 

It’s pleasant to gaze at the ocean, Democratic and damp, indiscriminate.

It fills me with noble emotion To think I am able to swim in it,

To lave in a wave Majestic and chilly.

Tomorrow, I’ll crave, But today, it is silly.

It’s pleasant to gaze at the ocean. Tomorrow, perhaps, I will swim in it.

 

It’s pleasant to gaze at the sailors As their sailboats they manfully sail,

With vigor of Vikings and whalers In the days of the Viking and whale.

They sport on the brink Of the shad and the shark.

If it’s windy thy sink. If it isn’t, they park.

It’s pleasant to gaze at the sailors: to gaze without having to sail.

 

How pleasant the salt anesthetic Of the sea and the sand and the sun.

Leave the earth to the strong and athletic, And the sea to adventure upon.

But the sun and the sand, No contractor can copy.

We live in the land Of the lotus and poppy.

We vegetate; calm anesthetic, on the beach, in the sand, in the sun.

INFO:  Composed in 1948, this song won first prize in its category in the National Scholastic Magazine competition.  It is the only first prize my music has ever won.  Shortly after writing it I came under overweening pressure to “turn modern”, beginning a lifetime of struggle between resisting and yielding to that pressure.   The performance was recorded at Interlochen during the summer of 1949; the singer is Jay Harnick.  I was the pianist.  (Although among my very first compositions, I have, in my catalogue, combined it with my later settings of Nash and given it the number 103.A.)

 

The Dybbuk is an opera in four acts based on Ansky’s famous play.  Many other composers have set it.  The love-death theme is operatic, and the play is laced with extended monologues that read as an invitation to compose arias.   In 1956 I was invited to compose incidental music for a production at Brandeis University.  Some of it proved to be seed music for a full operatic setting begun in 1966 and completed in 1972.   Denied marriage with Leah (with whom he is deeply in love) because of her father’s insistence on marrying her to wealth, the pious Channon turns in desperation to the evil spirits and dies in their throes.  He then enters Leah’s body as a Dybbuk, causing great consternation among all the people.  She is brought to Rabbi Azrael, famous for exorcising Dybbuks. Though determined to use all his powers to force Channon to leave Leah’s body, Rabbi Azrael develops strong attachment to the formerly pious young man. Azrael succeeds in his exorcism, blesses the apparently compliant Channon, but cannot prevent Leah’s joining him in death.

 

I was composing this work while campuses were disrupted by angry student protests of the Vietnam War.  I found myself deeply identifying with Rabbi Azrael in his absolute determination to compel Channon to stop his disruptive behavior, while simultaneously sympathizing with Channon’s inner motivations.

 

Here is the exorcism scene from the final act, which Azrael begins and ends with a prayer.  That final prayer is, perhaps, as close as any of my music gets to the core of what I hope to express through music. The concert reading, in 2017, is conducted by Stephan Fillare.  Gilad Paz plays Rabbi Azrael.  Emily Misch is Leah. John Ramseyer is Channon.  Thomas J. Barnes is Michoel.

II.  Words

Words,

Words upon a page

Reaching out to touch me.

Your words take me by the heart

And warm it

Until it overflows with joy.

  1. Nocturne:

A million stars blink down on me

And firefly lamps whiz on by.

A breeze wisps my hair

And wipes the tears from my eyes.

Caren Shilling was one of several students whose poems I set while they were at Queens College.  The singer was Blythe Merrifield and the occasion was a concert by the long Insland Composers Alliance.

All time stood still when Christ was born that day.
There was a portent in the rustling of the hay.

That moment comes again, the earth is still.
The candles in the windows dance
Upon the breath of that age-old song
That brings again its message of good will.

And we who lit the candles, is our ear
Attuned to that great harmony?
Have we thrown all our frankincense and myrrh
Into the sea and closed our windows that we may not hear?

Then it is well that we should fear.

This is the piece that the choral music teacher at my school, Helen Grant Baker, urged me to compose just after Bettina Blake’s poem was published in the school magazine.  She assigned singers to learn it quickly and it was performed at the Christmas assembly of 1946,  a week after I had completed it and less than two weeks after the poem had appeared.  More than any other moment it was the performing of this piece that made me feel that composing music was something I wanted to do and could do.

 

This recording was made by essentially the same group of singers a few months after that assembly.

The five songs that comprise the cycle With Primeval Candor represent my first foray into the poems of May Sarton. Sarton's poetry was first brought to my attention by my wife, Ellen, who found strength and consolation in a number of her poems. I have admired Sarton's poems for the feelings they evoke; for their directness of communication; for the absence of the obfuscation that modernity seems to bring to all the arts and for the craftsmanship with which she gives her works form. I also feel a sense of shelter in association with works in a language that would have been understood and admired a century ago and could reach a public without having first to abjure the use of the language previously in use. Would that concert music have provided a similar space!

As the first of my settings of Sarton poems, the five songs are an homage to her and a portrait of her poetic persona. The first four songs involve precious contacts that seem to relieve solitude, even as they are tenuous and even partly impersonal. From the girl in the first song before whose arrival "there had been no such music" to the intimate companion of the fourth song at whose departure "there would be no music" the sense of companionship weaves a delicate music. In the second song, connectedness is to an unknown stranger who might be renewed by a glass of water from the poet's well. In the third song the connectedness is between the unicorn and the lady of the tapestries and its centerpiece is the unicorn's acknowledgement that the lady's beauty "was not cast for me". The artistic process, a lingering focus in Sarton's work, is very much a part of the first, third and fourth songs, and the glass of water in the second song could easily be a metaphor for the poem itself: everything said of the water fits if her poetry is substituted. There is intense passion in these poems, but understated. The settings are, on the whole, quiet. The mood of the fourth song is retained in a ruminative coda, and the need for release becomes acute. The fifth song is that release as, with utmost ardor, Love is invoked out of the earth, the wave and the air to "touch us everywhere/ With primeval candor."

In this performance, recorded at Queens College, Emilia Lerner, mezzo-soprano; Barbara Stein Mallow, cello; William Westney, piano.

This is an excerpt from my 2nd Woodwind Quintet, composed entirely in 31-tone equal temperament and performed by Johnny Reinhard's group for which it was written. This passage "pins down" some of the blue notes of jazz. The chordal basis is a series of parallel piles of augmented seconds which, in 31-tone temperament, are smaller than minor thirds. A pile of three of them renders a very in-tune minor sixth (an additional voice adds a recognizable major seventh to the pile). The augmented second which is the basis of the pile is a close rendering of the just interval 7:6. As the pile slithers up and down in a simple, syncopated rhythm, the instruments take turns with riffs suggesting improvisation.

This is a piece intended to "tame" the 7th partial and make it part of ordinary usage. Throughout the piece, the flute is tuned a third of a semitone flat, so that all its pitches are the 7th partial of pitches of the other instruments. The horn uses its true 7th partial to provide rich color to the sounds, and support the flute. In the middle section the horn plays a sustained 7th partial, and the flute plays an extended solo above it: thus the music has modulated to a key that is inaccessible using ordinary tuning. This pure 7th sounds "right" enough that people used to the tempered seventh can easily confuse it with the more ordinary and less poignant out-of-tune representation that we have in 12-tone tuning. In fact, the NY Times critic, at its premiere performance complained that he could not hear the microtones promised in the program.
What that critic missed was that the whole point of this piece and other microtonal pieces I have composed is that microtones can be added to the vocabulary of music, enriching it, without seriously disturbing our relationship to music already in existence.

Here the premise is to explore some advantages in using the 12-tone serial technique when an additional 7 tones are available, and the 12 intervals are NOT equal. First, there IS a selected original position for the inversion: it is the only way to have the same intervals as in the original set while using the same pitch classes. Second, even while using the 12-tone set consistently and exclusively, the music can travel away from the original "key" and then return.
At the very end, I depart from the premise stated above, and transpose the inversion so that it will end on the starting pitch of the piece. Were this piece to be played multiple times on an instrument capable of rendering it, I would hope that alternate readings would transpose the final twelve notes to the pitches in which the inversion initially appeared. I now rather wish I hadn't made the concession to "ordinary" usage in 12-tone music that chose to select the home inversion on the basis of its ending on the p[itch where the original began.

These preludes were composed to illustrate various possible uses of 19-tone temperament. The scores can be accessed from this website as part of the dissertation MULTIPLE DIVISION OF THE OCTAVE AND THE TONAL RESOURCES OF 19-TONE TEMPERAMENT. 19 being a prime number, any interval can generate a complete circle the way the fifth does in 12-tone temperament. In this prelude, the whole tone: 3/19 of the octave is the generating interval. The melody fans outward by major seconds, and the contrasting key is a whole tone above the original tonic. While some of the attractive vagueness we ordinarily associate with the whole-tone scale is present, the fact that the whole tones pull away from the tonic rather than back toward it gives a physiognomy to the scale lacking in 12-tone temperament.

You can find the text of each song at the page number indicated. The first number is for the hard-cover: Collected Poems of May Sarton 1930-1993 (ISBN0-393-03493-3). The second number is for the paperback: Selected Poems of May Sarton (ISBN 0-393-04505-6). both volumes are published by W.W.Norton.

Girl With Cello: 337; 35

A Glass of Water: 313; 110

The Lady and the Unicorn: 84; 16

Evening Music: 112; 49

Invocation: 364; 45

You can find the text of each song at the page number indicated. The first number is for the hard-cover: Collected Poems of May Sarton 1930-1993 (ISBN0-393-03493-3). The second number is for the paperback: Selected Poems of May Sarton (ISBN 0-393-04505-6). both volumes are published by W.W.Norton.

Girl With Cello: 337; 35

A Glass of Water: 313; 110

The Lady and the Unicorn: 84; 16

Evening Music: 112; 49

Invocation: 364; 45

You can find the text of each song at the page number indicated. The first number is for the hard-cover: Collected Poems of May Sarton 1930-1993 (ISBN0-393-03493-3). The second number is for the paperback: Selected Poems of May Sarton (ISBN 0-393-04505-6). both volumes are published by W.W.Norton.

Girl With Cello: 337; 35

A Glass of Water: 313; 110

The Lady and the Unicorn: 84; 16

Evening Music: 112; 49

Invocation: 364; 45

You can find the text of each song at the page number indicated. The first number is for the hard-cover: Collected Poems of May Sarton 1930-1993 (ISBN0-393-03493-3). The second number is for the paperback: Selected Poems of May Sarton (ISBN 0-393-04505-6). both volumes are published by W.W.Norton.

Girl With Cello: 337; 35

A Glass of Water: 313; 110

The Lady and the Unicorn: 84; 16

Evening Music: 112; 49

Invocation: 364; 45

You can find the text of each song at the page number indicated. The first number is for the hard-cover: Collected Poems of May Sarton 1930-1993 (ISBN0-393-03493-3). The second number is for the paperback: Selected Poems of May Sarton (ISBN 0-393-04505-6). both volumes are published by W.W.Norton.

Girl With Cello: 337; 35

A Glass of Water: 313; 110

The Lady and the Unicorn: 84; 16

Evening Music: 112; 49

Invocation: 364; 45

to be added

The idea for the Chromatic study came first; it seemed to me that the diatonically tuned harp was somewhat out of its element in an era where many composers had buried the diatonic scale completely. I wondered what would happen if one gave the harp a special tuning that de-diatonicized the instrument. A five-note cluster around the D is created by raising the pitches of the B and C strings while lowering the pitches of the E and F strings. The two other strings, at G and Ab complete the gamut. Occasionally the B string reverts to B natural to provide an E major chord to go with the C major chord and Ab major chord that are present in the tuning. Since I still compose with a tonal bias, the chromatic tuning has the possibly unexpected effect of focusing the field on its more limited centers.

The Diatonic study was a kind of reaction to the Chromatic study: the harp asserting itself as a truly diatonic instrument. Paradoxically, there is far more pedal action, changing the pitches, than in the Chromatic Study.

These two pieces were written in 1990 to celebrate the graduation at Queens College of Laura Sherman, and premiered by her on her senior recital. They have recently been published by Ms. Sherman's company, Gotham Harp Publishers, Miami FL

A readily playable, rather Hindemithian work with a songlike middle movement, and a jazzy middle section to the quick finale. Has had some successful student performances in the distant past.

A commissioned work for chamber orchestra, based on impressions made by the glass in Ste. Chapelle in Paris. Premiere March 2002 in Minneapolis by the MN Sinfonia under Jay Fishman. Queens performance Feb. 6, 2003. Performance underDong Hyun Kim in New York in March 2010. Some drama in the middle portion of the work resulting from my discovery, while in the middle of composing the piece, that the windows that had appeared the loveliest, depicted the Book of Revelation, joyously heralding the end of the world by fire, the veneration of which makes it seem to me to be a most dangerous text. Has recently been recorded as part of Harmonize Your Spirit With My Calm by Ravello Records.

I thought originally that this would be the first movement of a cello concerto, but the resolution at its conclusion seems so complete that I have been loath to add anything despite having had sketches for more. Sonata form, but with some interesting surprises, especially in how the recapitulation reconstructs the exposition. Dae-il Yang performed this with Munoz in 2007.

Inspired by Tolstoy's War and Peace, the first movement finds the trumpet in its conventional martial role in a music full of extremes; the second movement is relatively peaceful and steady throughout. Richard Titone has played this a number of times over 40 years.

What starts out as a framed, contained expression becomes unexpectedly intensified upon the return of the opening theme. This work has had five performances, each with a different conductor.

Requires good soloists and a very attentive orchestra. As the texture is fuller than in my other works, clarity must be sought in performance. To my ears it is always tuneful, clear, well worked through and interesting. A piano reduction of the orchestral music exists, (MS) making this piece also performable as a quintet. A piano 4-hand arrangement also exists. (MS) Commissioned by Burt and Judy Malkiel who asked for something patterned after the Baroque concerto grosso and containing "rhythmic counterpoint", it was first performed at Queens College about 10 years later. The first movement was performed at my 2007 concert. Of particular interest is the form of the middle movement in which a 9-measure harmonic theme (with horn microtones) is treated alternately as a chaconne with expanding textures and a series of free variations alternately featuring the different soloists. In between an orchestral ritornello appears periodically, expanding each time.

A risk-taking work with perhaps greater strengths and greater weaknesses than my other early works. Inspired by the peroration demanding fulfillment of the psalmic command to "give thanks" and by the detail of Gregorian melody I had found most beautiful while serving the Army chaplains (the Sursum Corda, whose text declares the saying of thanks to be right and just), the piece is a kind of programmatic survey of aspirations and setbacks, eventually finding reasons to give thanks fully and freely. A passionate work. Had a very recent first public performance by the Nova Philharmonic at Queens College. This was the last of three works written in response to my military experience with the Chaplains Corps. The others were my Mass (#11 section J) and The Four Chaplains, (#17, section K).

Later used as Overture for #17. A readily performable work. Its first performance, as an entreacte to an evening of theater presented by the National Convocation of Methodist Youth in Lafayette IN in 1951, had the largest audience before which any work of mine was performed. It has had four performances since, most recently in New York in 2011 by the Nova Philharmonic under Donghyun Kim.

I do not know whether parts exist. This piece has not been played since an MENC convention in St. Louis in 1950. My recent re-evaluation of very early works has caused me to give this work a number. It was written to put a humorous spin on a disciplinary episode at Interlochen and to give me practice at orchestration. The performance was seriously rehearsed and well received. I treasure a recently discovered photograph of the occasion.

I will lift mine eyes unto the hills. Whence cometh my help?
My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
I will lift mine eyes unto the mountains. From whence doth my help come?
My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved.
He who keepeth thee never shall slumber
shall never sleep.
Behold, the Lord God of Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth.
The Lord is thy keeper. The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day. The moon shall not smite thee by night.
(The Lord God of Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth).
The Lord shall protect thee from all evil. He shall protect thy soul.
(The moon shall not smite thee by night)
(He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. The Lord God of Israel shall protect thee from all evil).
The Lord protect thy going out and thy coming in (I will lift mine eyes)
From this time forth and forever more! Amen.

This widely known Psalm has been set by many composers. I originally paired it with a setting
of Psalm 120. I was studying with Harold Shapero at Brandeis University in 1957 when working
on it. It received its first performance under Hugh Johnson while I was studying at Indiana
University. It is performed here at Queens College, conducted by James John.

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!

This setting of Yeats’ own epitaph was composed in 1964 as the finale to a ten-song cycle based
on Yeats poems. I originally wrote it for vocal quartet with four-hand piano accompaniment as
a possible companion work for Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, which some outstanding students
at Queens College were performing at the time. In this cycle each of the four singers has one
solo. There are also two duets, one trio, and three quartets of which this is one.

The Priest:
Victimae paschali laudes immolent Christiani. Agnus redemit omnes, Christus innocens Patri reconciliavit peccatores.

The Villagers and Soldiers
Praise ye his sacrifice! The lamb who died for thee! Christians praise the lamb whose death blesses thee! Sing praise of the sacrifice: the sinless one died, suffered for thee. Died for thy sin that his death may recover thy life! He died for thy life, for thee! Death for life!

The Priest:
Sepulcrum Christi viventis: et gloriam vidi resurgentis.

Maman:
Vit gadal v’yit kadash sh’meh rabah (the Kaddish is continued throughout)

The Villagers and Soldiers:
Mary, speak to us! What was it that you saw? Tell us what you found when you came to the tomb! Believers, I entered there: where he had lain was empty and cold! Glory to God whose death ends in holy rebirth! The tomb is no tomb! He lives! He is raised!
Sunrise and risen god! Christ is raised for thee! Glory to the lamb whose death blesses thee! God rose from the grave this day: Died for thy sins! Triumphed and rose! Life battled death and eternity triumphed for thee! He lives! He rose from the grave! We are saved!
Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Alleluia. Amen.

Maman’s concluding words:
……V’al kol Yisraeil v’imru amein,

Easter 1944: This French village is occupied by German troops. David, the boy whose Jewish
identity is being kept secret by the villagers, has now absorbed sufficient Christian camouflage
to participate visibly in the ceremonies. The Priest intones the Easter gradual, and the
villagers, including David, sing along in the vernacular. The German soldiers, at a signal from
their captain, join with the villagers in the Easter procession. Meanwhile, in Paris, David’s
mother sings the Kaddish.
This performance, without orchestra, is at a Queens College choral concert. Horns are present,
however, to supply occasional supporting microtones.

THE CLOISTERS- - - Fort Tryon Park, New York

by Samuel Yellen

Here in the Cloisters a fourth dimension evolves
A remote time-place of monk, knight and herald.
Here other men once made their peace with the world,
And that much harder peace, peace with themselves.

Today I walk alone in the silence almost heard,
The seven-century hush transported stone by stone
To this alien ground. I listen here alone,
The little fountain trills the clear song of a bird.

Though much here is "restored", much remains the same:
Carved angel, beast, placid and tormented soul
Gaze down from corbel, lintel, capital
Upon the same fevered flesh in frantic search of balm.

The cloister flowers, blue, gold, purple, pink and white,
Are those once stained in glass, woven in tapestries--
Jonquils, hyacinths, daisies, violets, fleurs-de-lys.
Their colors somewhat slack  in this less brilliant light.

Through the western arches, as in painted fantasy,
Beyond the broad Hudson's rippling sheens and shades
Rise the riven rusts of the sculptured Palisades,
And there for perspective against the sky a gull soars free.

Oh, I, I am a  cheerless  captive the cloister stones embrace.
I touch one stone decayed,  not by time or rain,
But by ingesting sorrow, passion, guilt and pain.
A stone worn soft and gentle as a human  face.

The sour corrupting acids are sucked up from my breast.
Who gives me this stone gives me a healing herb
With infinite capacity to draw out and absorb.
A smile denotes the cheerless captive become the cheerful guest.

With 4 fl. hn. trn. va. vc. db. hp. or 4 recorders, cornetto, sackbut, treble viol, viola de gamba, bass viol. and 2 lutes. There have been three performances to date, all with the modern instruments. The work is conceived to sound structurally somewhat different in the two versions, with the middle stanzas, set in a quasi-Medieval style, emerging as more significant with the early instruments.

Samuel Yellen taught the Writing of Poetry at Indiana University.  Having occasionally written texts for my own setting, I took his course in order to improve my own possibilities as a librettist.   He was an excellent teacher and broadened my horizons enough to see such beauties in other poets’ works, that I never assayed a libretto or song text of my own thereafter.   A year after I had left Indiana, Prof. Yellen sent this lovely poem about this great site.  James John leads the Queens College Vocal Ensemble in this performance.

This concerto was composed in 1952-3 for Ann Besser Scott, a fellow student in Cambridge and premiered by her.  This 2007 performance of the first movement is conducted by Tito Munoz and played by Hadassah Guttmann.  A new cadenza, written for this performance, is based on Hadassah’s name (in German usage, H is B-natural and S is E-flat).

Leaf is no more now than corruption’s scent
But beautiful are the trees above their dead,
This hour with their summer beauties spent,
When desolate of the thousand sweets they shed,
As to that last and western rite made bare,
Their boughs let drop the amber-yielding cup
That leaves no stain upon the crystal air;
And thinly in their midst a tune goes up:
Then who might sing in all the muted wood?
Its water locked, no single bird, no leaf;
It is not higher than the living blood
Will sound in bodies stony-dull with grief;
And thus, when death has taken all the rest,
Life’s self is heard within earth’s icy breast.

Copyright 1954 Léonie Adams

Léonie Adams was a poet, active and published from her college days around 1920. Though I
knew her as a college roommate and lifelong friend of my mother’s, her work was also highly
praised by such figures as Edmund Wilson and Edna St. Vincent Millay. I have set nine of her
poems in two cycles. There is in much of her poetry a sense of regret at being passed over by
some of the passionate delights of the Summer of life. Notwithstanding, her poems show a
confidence in dealing with its winter. Years after setting this poem, I took the gentle
recitative-like melody set to the words “then who might sing in all the muted wood...its waters
still, no single bird, no leaf?” and made it the main theme of my Postlude for String Trio posted
above. This performance is by Kathryn Wieckhorst.

Your father’s proud of you, my son!
He knows how brave you are,
How strong.
He knows your hidden tears.
Oh my son we hear! We hear you!
We all watch over you.
Your father in his prison knows your tears –
They flow from his own eyes.
Your cousins in Poland have sent you a gift –
A drawing –
A funny old man in Warsaw,
Selling fish.
Your grandmother kisses your brow.
Her smile is wisdom,
Her eyes are casks of wine.
She kisses you.
Don’t be afraid, my son: we’re safe.
Paris is as Paris was.
All the lights are lit.
The bakers bake their bread with secret flour.
Your cousins in Poland long to see you.
Your grandmother kisses your brow.
I kiss you, my beloved boy.
I hear your tears and send you all my strength.

 

Copyright 1991 Susan Fox. Used by permission

This Postlude was composed together with a Prelude, with the thought that combining them and placing between them any movement or combination of movements from Waiting for the Thaw would create a usable complete trio.  The themes are derived from lines of the song Twilight of the Wood.  This is the premiere performance, with Blanca Gonzalez, violin; Benjamin Larsen, cello, and Mandelbaum, piano

All our loves betrayed!
Paris is as Paris was –
the trains move east
still east
to ashes still.
My mother’s smile was wisdom,
her eyes were casks of wine.
Paris waits for its generals
while the trains move east.
Six million.
Six million gassed and burned.
Six million starved in India.
Twenty million Soviets starved and shot.
We walked beneath the plane trees
all of us together –
the alleys smelled of bread –
remember! remember! –
oh my soul the longing –
all the cities smell of ash.
The cities will be ovens -
flesh and wood and hope all ash –
steel will run like water –
the sky will plume with death –
the sky will bury cities – the sky itself will burn – all earth
to ash –
All ash.

 

Copyright 1991 Susan Fox. Used by permission

(August 15, 1944. The departing Germans have tied explosives to the bridge. Antoine has just been killed trying to approach the wires that tie detonators to the explosives on the bridge. Sophie, after the guards have left, approaches the spot where Antoine fell, takes the wire cutters and, during this aria, cuts the wire, saving the bridge. At the end of the aria, dawn comes and with it the first allied troops. David is rescued, while Sophie mourns by Antoine’s body)

Freedom!
Freedom!
Paris will dance in freedom
While live children burn!
Rome will drape itself in flowers
While the ovens spew their ash!
I hear the children tremble!
I hear ashes
Settle over forests.
I hear cities
Crumble.
I hear missiles fall.
Freedom!
What does freedom mean
In a world of murder?
What can freedom mean?

 

Copyright 1991 Susan Fox. Used by permission

(June 6, 1944. The villagers, sent home by curfew, retire peacefully in celebration of their anticipated freedom  after having celebrated the news of the landing of Allied troops in Normandy)

Your grandmother kisses your brow, my son!
Your father hears your longing!
I kiss you, my beloved boy.
I hear your tears and send you
All my strength.
Paris is as Paris was, my son.
All the lights are lit.
The bakers bake their bread with secret flour.
The whores have taken German names.
Poets sing and poets die.
The bakers bake their bread.
Paris is as Paris was.
Warsaw rises!
Warsaw blazes blood!
The courage! The courage!
Blood for blood
And rage for murder
Warsaw rises, oh my proud brave son!
We long for you.
Your father hears your tears.
Your cousins in Poland!
Your cousins in Poland!
Your cousins in Poland!

 

Copyright 1991 Susan Fox. Used by permission

(May 1943. In the previous scene, the villagers, while celebrating May Day, broke into hostility when the sounds of people singing the Internationale reached their ears. The Mayor calmed them, and a feast was served. Echoes of the scene are heard in the musical transition.)

The Village is an opera celebrating the heroic actions of the citizens of a small village in France in concealing from the German occupiers the identity of a Jewish boy sent from Paris for his protection.

The Village (1995) is an opera based on the experiences of Steve Orenstein, who survived the Holocaust as a boy in a French village, his Jewish identity concealed from the occupying forces.

In the opera he is “David” and these four arias are communications from his mother, in Paris, initially to him, but eventually to the world.  The librettist, Susan Fox is married to Mr. Orenstein.

(November 1942. This takes place after David, coached by the Priest and the family with whom he is staying, finally accepts the name that will conceal his Jewish origin and proceeds to enter the school, surrounded by other villagers)

Sung by: Erika Sunnegardh

Conductor: Tito Munoz

A companion piece to In Sainte Chapel/e, this work, inspired by Ellen's glass at Marian Woods, Hartsdale, NY, focuses, sequentially, on various window groups ending with the Resurrection. The two final sections, depicting the Crucifixion Chapel and the Resurrection triptych, use Gregorian melodies as their themes. Portions of the bassoon part are  microtonally notated, owing to the availability of Johnny Reinhard to play it.  If your bassoonist prefers not to deal in microtones, the nearest higher pitch is acceptable.

Les Pas by Paul Valery                                                                                     Translation by Marcella Buxbaum

Tes pas, enfants de mon silence,                                                                Your footsteps, children of my silence,
Saintement, lentement placés,                                                                                  Saintly, slowly placed
Vers le lit de ma vigilance                                                                              Towards the bed of my watchfulness
Procèdent muets et glacés.                                                                                  Approach, muted and frozen.

Personne pure, ombre  divine,                                                                             Pure one, divine shadow,
Qu’ils sont doux, tes pas retenus!                                                               How gentle your cautious steps are!
Dieux!..tous les dons que je devine                                                             Gods!...all the gifts that I can guess
Viennent à moi sur ces pieds nus!                                                                 Come to me on those naked feet!

Si, de tes lèvres avancées,                                                                                    If, with your lips advancing,
Tu prépares pour l’apaiser,                                                                                You are preparing to appease
A l’habitant de mes pensées                                                                            The inhabitant of my thoughts
La nourriture d’un baiser,                                                                                  With the sustenance of a kiss,

Ne hâte pas cet acte tendre,                                                                               Do not hurry this tender act,
Douceur d'être et de n'être pas,                                                                      Bliss of being and not being,
Car j’ai vécu de vous attendre,                                                                       For I have lived for waiting for you,
Et mon Coeur n'était que vos pas.                                                              And my heart was only your footsteps.

Was begun when I was first unsuccessful in my search for a preexisting setting of Valery for use in Gestalt at 60 (opus 84). When I found the Honneger work I set this song aside, but finished it later.

 

The singer is JinXiang Yu, the pianist is YounJu Namkoong