Dem Herbste Gleich (like autumn) (2001/2003)

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Commissioned and premiered by the Gemini Youth Symphony of Long Island, Amir Kats dir.at Suffolk Community College Brentwood on May 5, 2001. A revised version was premiered by Jeff Milarsky and the Juilliard Orchestra in The Juilliard Theatre on May 2, 2003.


Dem Herbste Gleich (Like Autumn) was written in the fall and winter of 2001. I was moved to write the piece after reading a number of poetic fragments by the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770—1843), primarily one entitled Heimath (Home). I wanted to echo the fragmentary nature of the text's discourse and the effect it achieves of imbuing a language and imagery of beauty, innocence, and repose with such a sense of alienation and distance.

Originally, this work was to consist of two movements, each based on a different Hölderlin text. However, as I worked on these separate movements, my ideas concerning the other text were continually subsumed into my thoughts about Heimath. I therefore decided to interweave the material from both movements into a single musical space. The result is a piece which continually seeks unity, linearity, and closure—that is, a narrative - but which is constantly, in one way or another, interrupted. For me, the beauties and truths of Hölderlin's text lie in its articulation of such interrupted paths.

Dem Herbste Gleich won an ASCAP Morton Gould Award, the Juilliard School's Palmer-Dixon Prize, and the Juillard Orchestra's Student Composers Competition.


Und niemand weiss.

Indessen lass mich wandeln 
Und wilde Beeren pflücken
Zu löschen die Liebe zu dir
An deinen Pfaden, o Erd'

Hier wo 
und Rosendornen 
Und süsse Linden duften neben 
Den Buchen, des Mittags, wenn im falben Kornfeld 
Das Wachstum rauscht, an geradem Halm, 
Und den Naken die Ähre seitwärts beugt 
Dem Herbste gleich, jetzt aber unter hohem
Gewölbe der Eichen, da ich sinn

Und aufwärts frage, der Glockenschlag 
Mir wohlbekannt 
Fernher tönt, goldenklingend, um die Stunde, wenn
Der Vogel wieder wacht. So gehet es wohl.




And no one knows.

Meanwhile let me roam 
And pick wild berries 
To quiet my love for you
Upon your paths, O Earth

Here where 
and thorns of roses 
And sweet lindens cast their fragrance 
Beside the beech trees, at noon, when in the pale cornfield 
There is a rustle of growth, by the straight stalks, 
And their ears bow to the side 
Like autumn, but now under the high 
Vault of oaks, where I muse 
And question heavenward, the stroke of the bell 
Well known to me 
From afar rings golden at the hour 
Of reawakening birds. So it goes.