Folio (18" x 12"). Unbound. 96 pp. Notated in pencil on 28-stave paper with annotations and corrections in blue and red pencil.
Co-commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra, A Woman's Life was first performed in Pittsburgh by the Pittsburgh Symphony under Leonard Slatkin with Angela Brown, soprano, on October 16, 2009.
Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a distinguished American poet, perhaps best-known for her series of autobiographies, the first of which, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), detailing her life up to the age of 17, brought her international acclaim; she went on to write six more. She had the honor of reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in 1993, the first poet to make such a recitation since Robert Frost at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961. Angelou was also an important civil rights activist, working with both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
"I went to see Maya Angelou at her New York townhouse with my wife Kathleen in early July 2006 - I wanted to see if she would write texts that would show the trajectory of a woman's life, from childhood to old age. When I asked her about this she informed me that she already had it and that she would read them to us. And so without hesitation, holding our hands at her dining room table, she read beautifully and yet calmly from her collected poems eight poems which made a perfect cycle fulfilling my intention. It was honestly one of the greatest performances I have witnessed in my life and it was all I needed, along with seven of the eight poems she read, to write this cycle of songs." Music Sales Classical website
A Woman's Life is thus in seven movements, based on the seven poems mentioned above:
I. Little Girl Speakings
II. Life Doesn't Frighten Me
III. They Went Home
IV. Come and Be My Baby
V. Let's Majeste
VI. My Life Has Turned to Blue
VII. Many and More
Grammy-Award winning Richard Danielpour "is an outstanding composer for any time, one who knows how to communicate deep, important emotions through simple, direct means that nevertheless do not compromise." (New York Daily News). A distinctive American voice, his music is of large and romantic gestures, brilliantly orchestrated, intensely expressive, and rhythmically vibrant." Phytheas Music website
"Richard Danielpour… has become one of the most sought-after composers of his generation - a composer whose distinctive American voice is part of a rich neo-Romantic heritage with influences from pivotal composers like Britten, Copland, Bernstein, and Barber. His works are solidly rooted in the soil of tradition, yet [sing] with an optimistic voice for today… [They] speak to the heart as well as the mind." Schirmer website
"Like many American composers of his generation, Danielpour has largely divorced himself from serial techniques, which were important to early works such as the First String Quartet (1983). With First Light (1988), he found a new, distinctly American voice. He is best known for his orchestral and chamber music, including vocal works in both genres. Although he is often described as a neo-romantic, his musical language is broadly based and widely varied... In his vocal works, which display pristine idiomatic writing, he has collaborated increasingly with living poets. Many of his instrumental works are given evocative titles that refer to extra-musical sources." Laurie Shulman in Grove Music Online.
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