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Owen Elegy Screenshot_edited_edited.jpg

Elegy in April and September
(after Wilfred Owen)

for orchestra (2013)

Duration: 10 minutes



Program Note:

At the top of a draft to "Elegy in April and September," poet Wilfred Owen writes the words: reported missing; later, reported killed. The poem that follows is a moving tribute to his fallen comrade, written during the horrors of World War I. I was reading through his collected poems shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and reliving the emotions I’d felt after the attacks on 9/11. I was struck by the coincidence that the months of his dual tragedy matched the tragedies of the two terrorist attacks that were weighing on me and so many others around the country and around the world.

The central musical idea started to form around the idea of individual mourning compounding into collective mourning and what that meant during moments of national tragedy. The music became an intricate canon of melodies entering after each other and overlapping into the climax of this collective mourning.

Elegy in April and September



Hush, thrush! Hush, missen-thrush, I listen...
I heard the flush of footsteps through the loose leaves,
And a low whistle by the water's brim.

Still! Daffodil! Nay, hail me not so gaily,-
Your gay gold lily daunts me and deceives,
Who follow gleams more golden and more slim.

Look, brook! O run and look, O run!
The vain reeds shook? - Yet search till gray sea heaves,
And I will stray among these fields for him.

Gaze, daisy! Stare through haze and glare,
And mark the hazardous stars all dawns and eves,
For my eye withers, and his star wanes dim.


Close, rose, and droop, heliotrope,
And shudder, hope! The shattering winter blows.
Drop, heliotrope, and close, rose...

Mourn, corn, and sigh, rye.
Men garner you, but youth's head lies forlorn.
Sigh, rye, and mourn, corn...

Brood, wood, and muse, yews,
The ways gods use we have not understood.
Muse, yews, and brood, wood...

— Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)



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