Gwyneth Walker

My Father Lived His Soul

for SATB Chorus (2016)
for Voice and Piano (2016)

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Download a PDF file of the choral score of this composition.

Download a PDF file of the solo vocal score of this composition.

my father moved through dooms of love is an extended, complex poem by E. E. Cummings. It contains some of his most beautiful writing. The poet speaks of his father as a loving participant in the natural world. The father is remembered as singing each morning out of each night...or for he could feel the mountains grow.

The reader can almost see the father as a tree: septembering arms of year extend, with strength: his shoulders marched against the dark.

The poet leads the reader to share a child's view of the father: and every child was sure that spring danced when she heard my father sing...

The challenge in creating a musical setting of this poem is to sustain the steady, regular flow of the stanzas, while drawing attention to the most special lines and images. A nearly constant tempo throughout leads each verse into the next. The tonality remains the same. Pitches rise and fall with the lyrics. Dynamics ebb and flow with the intensity of the message.

Although there are several forte phrases within the song, the strongest climax comes with the closing words:

because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

This description of the father matches the composer's father, John Baldwin Walker, a naturalist with poetry in his soul.

Notes by the composer