When Orpheus Played

"When Orpheus Played" was completed July 8, 1979 in New York City. It is found in Four Songs (Boosey & Hawkes, 1989) and is dedicated to tenor Paul Sperry. It was premiered by Mr. Sperry and Robert Spillman at the Aspen Music Festival in 1982. In a note from the composer at the beginning of the collection, the performer is given permission to transpose this piece to other keys.

--Esther Jane Hardenbergh
Orpheus with his lute made trees
by William Shakespeare
Quoted in Henry VIII, Act III scene 1

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain-tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:

To his music, plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Everything that heard him play,
Even the billows of the sea,
Hung their heads, and then lay by.

In sweet music is such art:
Killing care and grief of heart
Fall asleep, or, hearing, die.

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