Date of this Version
Composed while working on a Masters degree at the University of Wisconsin, the dark sonority of the trombones with voices reflected my student admiration for the Symphoniae sacrae of Heinrich Schütz and certain late music of Stravinsky, especially the 1948 Mass and his Dylan Thomas setting. The listener may also find harmonic allusions to Hindemith (an influence I was desperately trying to distance myself from during this period). The three texts are sequenced chronologically and, to some extent, the music mirrors this historical progression. “Death Be Not Proud” employs contrapuntal techniques reminiscent of the late Renaissance, “When I Have Fears” using a romantic harmonic palette, and the St. Vincent Millay setting is the most active rhythmically. On a personal note, this work was conceived as a cenotaph for Joseph Fisher, a close friend and most gifted trombonist who was killed in a car accident in 1966 along with his wife Susan.They were both 21 and had only been married a few months.