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… wenn die Blätter treiben (2019)

violin, viola, cello; duration: ca. 5′

… wenn die Blätter treiben is a string trio I wrote for the LA Phil Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program. The piece was premiered on December 7, 2019 in the Choral Hall of Walt Disney Concert Hall. It was performed by members of the Lyris Quartet (Alyssa Park on violin, Luke Maurer on viola, and Timothy Loo on cello). The piece is based on the poem “Herbsttag,” by Rainer Maria Rilke. Although it isn’t exactly programmatic, it follows the arc of the poem and its three-stanza structure. It also takes inspiration from the rhythm of Rilke’s language, especially in the second stanza.

"Herbsttag" by Rainer Maria Rilke:

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

English translation by Noah Godard:

Lord: it is time. The summer was grand.
Lay your shadows upon the sundials,
and in the fields, let the winds be free.

Command the last fruits to be full;
give them two more southerly days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the strong wine.

He who now has no house will never build himself one.
He who is now alone will long stay alone,
will stay awake, read, write long letters,
and will restlessly wander to and fro
in the alleys, when the leaves drift.