Birds of Passage

Full Score: PDF
1. Autumn Within Mvt1
2. The Poet And His Songs Mvt2

Instrumentation: countertenor (or mezzo), A & B-flat clarinet, piano
Vocal Range: A3 - F#5
Duration: 8:00
Year of Completion: 2013
Program Notes

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poetry contains many vibrant images and a syntax that makes it especially attractive when setting his work to music. His five collections titled "Birds of Passage" each contain poems of various lengths, using imagery of birds as either the main focus of the text or just a fleeting mention. The two poems in this piece are of the latter; short images of birds within a deeper context.

"Autumn Within" is a depressed rumination at the aging process, which is a familiar trope found in Wadsworth's output. The mood of the music is very bleak and cold, mirroring the narrative structure of the poem. Even the beauty of youth and nature are not enough to pull the author out of his sad state, and the movement ends with a dissonant, resigned sigh.

In complete contrast to the stark opening, the second movement is joyful and energetic. "The Poet And His Songs" is a look at the creative process, mysterious in its source and both joyful and haunting for those afflicted with the urge to create. Where the first movement ended with a sigh, the final bars of the work end in an elated, triumphant scream.