Desiderata: Ten Pieces of Wisdom (2020)

Soprano & Alto Saxophone

Text by Max Ehrmann

Total duration ca. 8'50

Ten-movement work

I. Go placidly amid the noise and haste…

II. Speak your truth quietly and clearly…

III. Avoid loud and aggressive persons…

IV. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans…

V. Exercise caution in your business affairs…

VI. Be yourself…

VII. Take kindly the counsel of the years…

VIII. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you… –

IX. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle… –

X. And whether or not it is clear to you…

Purchase this score from

Peter Dayton Music (ASCAP) for: $20

The text of this work was requested by Katie Procell as a possible poem that I could set for her and saxophonist Kyle Blake Jones. The simple, plainspoken text of the poem sets forth author Max Ehrmann’s precepts of a happy life. Desiderata’s gentle simplicity and epigrammatic form made for a surprising challenge in my text-setting process. Though Katie and Kyle approached me about the work in 2019, it was not until March of 2020 that I began to compose the piece; splitting the text up into a series of miniatures, I attempted to compose one miniature per day as a way to maintain my creative practice during the COVID-19 period of social-distancing. The simple statements have served as important reminders in a time when so much has been disrupted and seem to have a kind of timeless applicability (with the exception of IV, whose final clause must have rung hollow even shortly after its composition, with the Great Depression only two years away. For this reason, that musical passage can be hummed instead of sung). While I do not compose pieces about tragedies or larger events in the world, the creation of this work is inextricably bound up with the 2019-2020 global pandemic. I hope that the quiet tone of the text brings some comfort and reflection to audiences, during our current time and beyond.

 

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1927) is a poem in the public domain.
 

Read Recent Blog Posts

© 2019 by Peter Dayton. Proudly created with Wix.com

  • w-facebook
  • Twitter Clean
  • w-youtube
  • SoundCloud Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon