COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 55

The Leaving Light (1972)

for Voice and Piano

Text by Michael Sussholz

Duration: 5 min.

Recording: Albany TROY1353-54

Premiere: 1975; H. Williams; A. Rosner, Bronx Museum

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In high school I met and became good friends with one Michael Sussholtz. He was something of a mystic, played flute, and while we got along very well our musical tastes largely diverged—with the notable exception of agreeing on a very warm feeling about Renaissance music. Mike later sang in various small non-professional choirs devoting their time largely to that repertoire, and indeed many of the choir colleagues attended his funeral in 1989 to sing motets (in Hebrew) of Salamone da Rossi. (Mike died of AIDS at the age of 45.) He was a poet, but I must confess I generally found his pieces heavy in both words and meaning. He often asked me to consider setting one of them—and I finally decided to read them one at a time—not as a collection, and determined that one untitled two-stanza poem did indeed suit me. The ending, especially, struck me as a “coup”—where one verse concludes with “the brilliance of the night” and the second with “the brilliance of the light”. I reached into my harmonic bag of tricks, found the passage I wanted, and, of course, marked “night” fortissimo, and “light” subito pianissimo. This was written in 1972, and I went on to use the piano introduction as a passacaglia pattern in my extremely tragic 4th String Quartet. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)