(SATB, strings or piano) 5'30"
A passionate tribute to the magic and mystery of music, a setting of an English translation of An die Musik, most famously set to music by Franz Schubert. Appropriate for high school, college and community ensembles.
Listen (Northfield (MN) High School Choir and Orchestra, Kyle Eastman conducting)
Choral Score: $2.10 Add to Cart
Full Score: $8.50 Add to Cart
String Parts: $42.00 Add to Cart
Composer's Notes from program notes at premiere performance, October 29, 2013 in Byron, MN. Participating schools and conductors: Blooming Prairie High School (Kari Bottin), Byron High School (Susan Braun), Hayfield High School (Ryan Evans), Kasson-Mantorville High School (Andrew Faller), Pine Island High School (Doug Strandell, choir; Joseph Mish, orchestra), Stewartville High School (Nick Johnson), and Triton High School (Craig Anderson):
When my grandfather was in the deepest throes of Alzheimer's disease and verbal communication was no longer possible, the last human response that I remember from him occurred when I hummed an old Swedish tune and felt the squeeze of his hand intensify in mine. When most of his other emotional and physical faculties had not functioned for days, it was obvious that music was still able to penetrate the mental barriers which the disease had forced upon him.
Countless times before and since then have I pondered this miracle (for I have no other word to describe it) wherein pitches and other sounds can be organized in such a way that when they are produced by one or more musicians and "waves" of invisible sound enter our ears and flow into our brain, somehow we may feel emotions ranging from pure joy or excitement to profound longing or sadness. How is it that music can at times reach into the depths of our soul to provoke feelings that perhaps we didn't even know existed?
These musings on the magic and mystery of music go way back to my preteen years when I first felt the deep sense of longing in a folk tune such as Shenandoah (even without knowing the words to the song). I soon discovered that I could lose myself in the mental fantasy of a beautiful sunset or cloudburst which the music would call to mind when my parents played our recording of The Grand Canyon Suite. A few years later a popular song would intensify the impact of a new experience and still often triggers pleasant nostalgic memories when I hear it today. To this day I continue to be gratefully puzzled by the phenomenon of musical communication.
When I was contacted about this commission by the Zumbro Education District, I was asked to consider searching for a text that makes reference to music itself. I have chosen a poem in praise of music written nearly two centuries ago by the Austrian poet Franz von Schober and set to music by his friend Franz Schubert, a master composer who is most widely known as a creator of art songs for solo voice and piano. His setting of this German poem, An die Musik (To Music) is probably the most widely known of his hundreds of songs. To my knowledge, what you are hearing tonight is the only setting of an English translation of the poem for choral forces rather than a soloist.
As an homage to Schubert and his beloved song, I have composed the string introduction, interludes and coda to include a descending four note melodic figure similar to that which Schubert employs in his transition and coda: a stepwise descent followed by two repetitions of the second note, then that four note motive repeated in a downward sequence.
Thank you to the Zumbro Education District for this opportunity to create a new work in collaboration with all of the choral departments of the seven schools represented here today, as well as the string orchestra of Pine Island High School. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting each of these choirs and the strings in separate rehearsals last week, and I appreciate the many hours of practice that all of these musicians and their conductors set aside in order to prepare the music. We are excited to bring it to life for you for the first time tonight!