Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life's Shadows: American Composer Peter Lieberson On His New Song-Cycle “Songs of Love and Sorrow”

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Program Note by the Composer on occasion of the Boston Symphony Orchestra world premiere:

Following the Boston premiere of the Neruda Songs in late 2005, James Levine and the BSO commissioned another
work from me to be composed for my wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Lorraine died in July 2006 from breast cancer,
and shortly thereafter I too was diagnosed with a severe cancer. I had no heart for composing at that time and
wondered whether I would be able to compose any more at all, considering my condition. In the spring of 2007,
following a pretty grueling regimen of treatment, I had two months to contemplate the BSO commission before I
had to go back again for more treatment. I initially thought I might write a cycle of farewell songs as a memorial to
Lorraine and began by re-reading Neruda’s Love Sonnets. My idea was to compose a second cycle that could serve
as a companion piece to the Neruda Songs, this time to be sung by a baritone.

As a curious aside, a few months later in the fall of 2007, on the very day that I was to receive five million of my
own stem cells as a treatment for lymphoma, I heard the news that I was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for the
Neruda Songs. That day also happened to be my 61st birthday.

Receiving the award was an encouraging sign, but I still had no real desire to compose and instead busied myself
with revising a suite from my opera, Ashoka’s Dream, and orchestrating my cantata, The World in Flower, a work
that I had already completed before Lorraine died, one that was originally intended for her and Gerry Finley to
perform. ...


Post a Comment

<< Home