COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 108

Of Songs and Sonnets (1997)

for Countertenor (or Mezzo-Soprano) and Harpsichord

Texts by John Milton

  • Tell Me, Sweetest Nymph
  • To Mr. H. Lawes, on the publishing his Airs
  • Presentation to the Father and Mother

Duration: 9 min.

Dedication: to Nancy Bogen

Recording: Albany TROY1353-54

Premiere: 1998; M. Coyd; E. Comparone; Lark Ascending; New York, NY

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Around the turn of the century—or millennium, I was commissioned by the foundation The Lark Ascending to write settings of such poets as John Milton and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The three-movement Milton example, Of Songs and Sonnets, is for either medium female voice or countertenor, with harpsichord accompaniment. I have used the lute stop in the first movement more than I usually do—tried for some musical tricks in the second (such as setting the word “AC-cent” with a syncopated moment) and attempted for the graceful parental feelings of the third to lie comfortably in a 7-rhythm. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)