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Art Songs

Publishers:
All scores are marked if they are published by
Theodore Presser Company or Inkjar Publishing Company.

How to purchase pieces published by Presser:
• Details and links are supplied below Presser's pieces on your purchasing options.

How to purchase pieces published by Inkjar:
• Email
Inkjar with your order details - click here.
• Inkjar will then send you an invoice.
• All purchases are made through
PayPal or personal check. Instructions on how to do so will be on the invoice.

  • Ars Poetica (2007) 15’ • mezzo-sop, vln, vc, pno (currently unavailable)
    Excerpt of Movement 2:
    Sonnet
    Excerpt of Movement 4:
    Endangered

    AUDIO
    All excerpts performed by Buffy Baggott, mezzo-soprano, and the Lincoln Trio
    From The Billy Collins Suite, Cedille Records CDR 90000 115
    Available from
    Cedille Records
    Used by permission. All rights reserved.
    Purchase recording
    Commissioned by Music in the Loft

    Please note: Ars Poetica is not available for purchase or performance at this time.

    PROGRAM NOTES
    Ars Poetica was commissioned by the concert series Music in the Loft as part of their Billy Collins Suite project, in which a group of composers each set texts by the American poet Billy Collins. My set contains four poems: Introduction to Poetry, Sonnet, Vede Mecum, and Endangered.
    -S.G.

  • The Book of American Poetry, Volume I (2009) 25’30” • baritone, fl, cl, vln, vc, pno, perc (currently unavailable)
    Movement 1:
    The Poets
    (excerpt)
    Movement 4:
    Personal
    (excerpt)
    Movement 3:
    Chicago
    (excerpt)

    AUDIO
    Performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

    Please note: The Book of American Poetry, Volume I is not available for purchase or performance at this time. Please inquire with Inkjar Publishing about its availability.

    Volume I:
    I. The Poets (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
    II. Love is anterior to life (Emily Dickinson)
    III. Chicago (Carl Sandburg)
    IV. Personal (Langston Hughes)
    V. Only until this cigarette is ended (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
    VI. My Life (Henry David Thoreau)
    VII. Quicksand Years (Walt Whitman)

    PROGRAM NOTES
    I began The Book of American Poetry project in 2008, and completed it in 2010. The goal of the project was to present poetry by a variety of poets within a single, large-scale song cycle (basically a musical anthology analogous to poetry collections). I established two criteria in choosing poets: the poets had to be born in the United States, and the poets would be drawn from America’s early poets up to the present generation. The chosen poems needed to fulfill several requirements: to serve as a representative poem of each poet, to cover a wide range of topics, and to complement as well as contrast the other poems in the project.

    Volume I of The Book of American Poetry was commissioned and premiered in the summer of 2009 by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Volume II was premiered by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players in New York in November 2011.
    -S.G.

  • The Book of American Poetry, Volume II (2010) 20’30” • mezzo-sop, fl, cl, vln, vc, pno, perc (currently unavailable)
    Movement 1:
    Nemesis
    (excerpt)
    Movement 3:
    Peace
    (full)
    Movement 2:
    At Night
    (excerpt)
    Movement 4:
    We Real Cool
    (excerpt)
    Movement 7:
    A Dream within a Dream
    (excerpt)
    Movement 5:
    Dawn
    (full)

    AUDIO
    Performed by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players

    Please note: The Book of American Poetry, Volume II is not available for purchase or performance at this time. Please inquire with Inkjar Publishing about its availability.

    Volume II:

    I. Nemesis (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
    II. At Night (Sara Teasdale)
    III. Peace (Amy Lowell)
    IV. We Real Cool (Gwendolyn Brooks)
    V. Dawn (Paul Laurence Dunbar)
    VI. Many red devils ran from my heart (Stephen Crane)
    VII. A Dream within a Dream (Edgar Allan Poe)

    PROGRAM NOTES
    I began The Book of American Poetry project in 2008, and completed it in 2010. The goal of the project was to present poetry by a variety of poets within a single, large-scale song cycle (basically a musical anthology analogous to poetry collections). I established two criteria in choosing poets: the poets had to be born in the United States, and the poets would be drawn from America’s early poets up to the present generation. The chosen poems needed to fulfill several requirements: to serve as a representative poem of each poet, to cover a wide range of topics, and to complement as well as contrast the other poems in the project.

    Volume I of The Book of American Poetry was commissioned and premiered in the summer of 2009 by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Volume II was premiered by the Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players in New York in November 2011.
    -S.G.

  • Dawn (2010) 2’15” • sop, pno -OR- mezzo, pno -OR- sop, mezzo, pno

    AUDIO
    Performed by Julia Bentley, mezzo-soprano, and Kuang-Hao Huang, piano
    Commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $6 PDF format • $12 printed score
    Click here to
    email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    Dawn, a poem by African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, depicts the beauty of dawn breaking over the horizon. Dawn is part of The Book of American Poetry project (volume Iv).
    -S.G.

  • Dirge without Music (2013) 6’30” • sop, pno

    AUDIO
    Performed by Patrice Michaels, soprano, and Dana Brown, piano
    Commissioned by Thomas J. Hamilton in memory of his wife, Nadine.
    Poem by
    Edna St. Vincent Millay

    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $10 PDF format • $20 printed score
    Click here to
    email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    Thomas J. Hamilton, a wonderful benefactor and supporter of new music, had previously commissioned In Eleanor’s Words and String Quartet No. 3: Gaia from me, the first piece for his mother, Marget, and the second for his wife, Nadine. Tom contacted me a third time when Nadine passed away and asked if I would set Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Dirge Without Music to music. The poem proved to be an interesting challenge – how do you set a poem whose title explicitly says not to have music? I solved this issue by starting the piece with very little music behind the soprano; the music gradually grows in intensity throughout the piece. Likewise, the ending was also challenging. Since the poem states that Millay is not resigned, I kept the music from fully resolving, thus mirroring Millay’s refusal to let go.
    -S.G.

    Additional program notes written by Thomas J. Hamilton as he reflects on his late wife, Nadine:

    Remember meeting in the saxophone section of the junior high school band? Learning to waltz and foxtrot and jitterbug – never very well – right through the senior high school prom?

    Remember splitting up – over what? Or whom?

    Remember six years later? Lexington Avenue. New York City. You and me, opposite sides of 32nd Street, stopped at a red light? I looked across and said, “I know that woman!” How lucky was that? How likely?

    You were moving to New York after grad school. You had a job at Newsweek. You had an apartment. I was being discharged from the Army. Had no job. No place to go. “Why not move to New York?” you asked innocently, perhaps. I didn’t have much to offer, but I was nobody’s fool, at least not then. I moved to New York and, much, perhaps, to your surprise, moved in.

    Two and a half years later we still lived on West 75th Street in a fifth-floor walk-up where in winter the snow drifted inside the windows. But we had a fireplace, which provided warmth and, when the cockroaches roasted over the open fire, entertainment.

    One morning – it seemed like a usual morning – you said, “So when are we going to get married?” Surprised, but not speechless, I said, “Why ruin a good thing?” To which you responded, “If you don’t do the right thing, this good thing is over.”

    We were married at New York’s city hall by the acting assistant justice of the peace, who had a nearly debilitating stutter that made the rite almost interminable. But the marriage, the promise, lasted only a brief – all too brief, my love - forty-two years.

    So this song is for you. It’s about love and anger, acceptance and the refusal to accept. About you and me. It’s funny, I suppose, setting to music a “Dirge without Music.” But remember how we loved funny, irony, fun?

    I think you’ll like it. In fact I know you will. And that’s a promise, just exactly like the first one. Except that this one isn’t until death us do part. This promise is forever.

    -T.J.H.


  • In Eleanor's Words (2006) 27’ • mezzo, pno -OR- mezzo and large chamber ensemble
    Excerpt of Movement 1:
    The Newspaper Column
    Excerpt of Movement 6:
    What Can One Woman Do?
    Excerpt of Movement 3:
    The Anonymous Letter

    INSTRUMENTATION
    Two options:
    • voice and piano
    • voice and large chamber ensemble: 1111, 1110, perc, hp, pno, 11111

    AUDIO
    All excerpts performed by Buffy Baggott, mezzo-soprano, and Kuang-Hao Huang, piano
    From In Eleanor's Words, Cedille Records CDR 90000 122
    Available from
    Cedille Records
    Used by permission. All rights reserved.
    Purchase recording
    Commissioned by Thomas J. and Nadine Hamilton through a grant to the Chicago Classical Recording Foundation

    ORDERING SCORES
    Theodore Presser Company
    111-40224 • $29.95 • mezzo-soprano and piano
    Click here to go directly to Presser's ordering page.

    To perform the mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble version, go to Presser's
    rental catalog.

    To view full score online, click here or on the image to the right.

    Stacks Image 5320
    PROGRAM NOTES
    How does one capture the essence of Eleanor Roosevelt in a song cycle? Eleanor served in countless roles throughout her lifetime, including wife, mother, teacher, journalist, First Lady of our country, U.S. delegate to the United Nations, and an ambassador to other nations. She amassed a body of essays, speeches, and letters that depict a portrait of a woman who fought for equality and basic human rights for all people, and whose keen intellect exhibited a deep and concerned understanding of the people and events that shaped people’s lives until her death in 1962. One of her greatest achievements was helping to draft and pass the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as part of her work with the United Nations.

    The focal point for this song cycle is her “My Day” syndicated newspaper column that ran from 1935 until 1962. The column gave Eleanor a means to communicate to Americans all across the country about a variety of topics, from tidbits about daily life in the White House to the largest political and social topics of her time. Americans communicated with Eleanor by writing letters to her; a number of these letters are addressed in Eleanor’s columns.

    In Eleanor’s Words features excerpts of six of her columns that present Eleanor Roosevelt in a variety of lights. These excerpts are arranged in chronological order and span from her earliest articles to almost her last. I. The Newspaper Column introduces her newspaper column; in this particular article, she shares a funny situation in which finds herself while trying to meet her column deadline. Her strong feelings about prejudice are expressed in II. Are You Free. In III. An Anonymous Letter, she writes of a friendly anonymous letter that she received, while IV. The Supreme Power gives us a taste of her humor as she and the other delegates in the U.N. General Assembly were finishing the details of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. V. The Dove of Peace recounts her trip to Russia during the Cold War. The final movement, VI. What Can One Woman Do? deals with a topic referred to in several of her essays and column entries: how individuals can make a difference in preventing future wars, particularly after the invention of the atomic bomb. Movements V and VI both show Eleanor's strong beliefs to particular ideals, even if those beliefs were erroneous or simply beyond the capabilities of her time. For instance, she solidly believed in turning "weapons of total destruction" over to the United Nations and establishing world law, neither of which has happened.

    In Eleanor’s Words (the original version for voice and piano) was commissioned by Thomas J. and Nadine Hamilton through a grant to The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation to honor Marget Hamilton in celebration of her 90th birthday. A new version, for voice and large chamber ensemble, was orchestrated in 2008 for Indiana University’s New Music Ensemble.
    -S.G.

  • My Dearest Ruth (2013) 6’45” • sop, pno

    AUDIO
    Performed by Patrice Michaels, soprano, and Dana Brown, piano
    Commissioned by Jane Ginsburg and James Ginsburg in celebration of the 80th birthday of their mother, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $10 PDF format • $20 printed score
    Click here to
    email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    by James Ginsburg

    The letter on which
    My Dearest Ruth is based was my father’s last written statement. My parents celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary in my father’s room at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. The following day, my mother called to say Dad had taken a turn for the worse. I flew to Baltimore the next morning (Friday) and met Mom at Dad’s room. The doctors came in and told us there was nothing more they could do — the cancer had progressed too far. All this time, Dad kept repeating one word: “Home.” So we made arrangements to bring him back to our apartment in Washington, D.C. While collecting his belongings from the hospital room, Mom pulled open the drawer next to Dad’s bed and discovered a yellow legal pad on which Dad had written this a week earlier:

    6/17/10

    My Dearest Ruth –

    You are the only person I have loved in my life, setting aside, a bit, parents and kids and their kids, and I have admired and loved you almost since the day we first met at Cornell some 56 years ago.

    What a treat it has been to watch you progress to the very top of the legal world!!

    I will be in JH Medical Center until Friday, June 25, I believe, and between then and now I shall think hard on my remaining health and life, and whether on balance the time has come for me to tough it out or to take leave of life because the loss of quality now simply overwhelms. I hope you will support where I come out, but I understand you may not. I will not love you a jot less.

    Marty


    I should note one factual error: my parents met 59 years before the date of this letter, not 56. Obviously, Dad had their 56th anniversary in mind. We chose to keep the number 56 in the song.

    My sister, Jane, and I commissioned Stacy Garrop to adapt the letter and set it to music as one of three songs by different women composers to be presented in 2013 as an 80th birthday tribute to our mother, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Soprano Patrice Michaels sang the premiere at the Supreme Court with pianist Dana Brown on Saturday, April 6, 2013.
    -J.G.

  • Of Love and Loss (2013) 13’45” • sop, pno
    I. Dirge Without Music
    II. My Dearest Ruth

    AUDIO
    Performed by Patrice Michaels, soprano, and Dana Brown, piano
    Dirge Without Music: Commissioned by Thomas J. Hamilton in memory of his wife, Nadine.
    My Dearest Ruth:
    Commissioned by Jane Ginsburg and James Ginsburg in celebration of the 80th birthday of their mother, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $18 PDF format • $36 printed score
    Click here to
    email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    The songs that comprise Of Love and Loss were separate commissions by two individuals, but because of the circumstances of each commission, these two songs are intertwined. The first, Dirge Without Music, was commissioned by Thomas Hamilton. Tom has been a long-time supporter of mine, having commissioned two works for members of his family (In Eleanor’s Words for his mother, Marget, and String Quartet No. 3: Gaia for his wife, Nadine). When Nadine passed away, Tom asked if I would set Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem Dirge Without Music to music in her memory. A short time later, Jim Ginsburg (president of Cedille Records) also made a request. Jim and I have worked together on multiple projects for his record company, including both of Tom’s commissions. Jim’s request was to set the last letter his father, Martin, wrote before he passed away. Martin’s letter is a deeply moving expression of love to his wife, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    I composed both songs for soprano Patrice Michaels (who is Jim’s wife) and pianist Dana Brown. The pieces were written simultaneously, as I found the texts nicely complemented each other in their dealings with love and death; the angry, unaccepting
    Dirge Without Music counterbalances the gentleness of My Dearest Ruth. These songs were premiered in Washington D.C. one day apart from each other: My Dearest Ruth was performed for Justice Ginsburg at the Supreme Court as part of her 80th birthday celebration, while Dirge Without Music received its premiere one block away at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in an event that Tom Hamilton filled with music and poetry as we remembered Nadine.
    -S.G.

    For further program notes on each of these songs, please click on their individual titles above this header.

  • We Real Cool (2010) 2’25” • sop, pno -OR- mezzo, pno -OR- sop, mezzo, pno

    AUDIO
    Performed by Julia Bentley, mezzo-soprano, and Kuang-Hao Huang, piano
    Commissioned by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

    ORDERING SCORES
    Inkjar Publishing Company
    $6 PDF format • $12 printed score
    Click here to
    email Inkjar Publishing Company

    PROGRAM NOTES
    We Real Cool, a poem by African-American poet Gwendolyn Brooks, depicts the attitudes of youth whose only concern is the present moment. We Real Cool is part of The Book of American Poetry project (volume III).
    -S.G.