Premiere performance: Sophia Tegart, flute; Michael Seregow, piano, 2019 Festival of Contemporary Art Music, Washington State University, Pullman, WA - March 2, 2019.
Leonardo Saw the Spring for Flute and Piano
I. Leonardo Saw the Spring
II. Leonardo Drew the Blooms
III. Leonardo Loved the Still
IV. Leonardo Drew in Spring
Program Notes: Many of my compositions have been inspired by poetry. Many poets in turn have been inspired by visual art, creating what is called ekphrastic poetry in which vivid and often dramatic descriptions of visual works of art form the basis of the poetry. To have both, the poetic interpretation and the visual art upon which it was based, created another inspirational layer to my creative process. “Leonardo Saw the Spring” takes as its inspiration the ekphrastic poem “Drawing of Roses and Violets” which in turn was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Studies of Flowers. The poem was published in 1892 as part of a collection of thirty-one poems depicting paintings exhibited in European art galleries. The collection entitled “Sight and Song” was published by Michael Field which was the joint pseudonym of collaborative poets and lovers Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Emma Cooper. In the preface the authors state: “The aim of this little volume is, as far as may be, to translate into verse what the lines and colours of certain chosen pictures sing in themselves; to express not so much what these pictures are to the poet, but rather what poetry they objectively incarnate.” This too is my aim with “Leonardo Saw the Spring” – to find the music that is innately embedded in the lines of the poetry and drawing.
“Leonardo Saw the Spring” was commissioned by flutist Sophia Tegart with support by a Washington State University New Faculty Seed Grant.
Drawing of Roses and Violets
LEONARDO SAW THE SPRING
Saw the spring and loved it in its flowers—
Violet, rose :
One that grows
Mystic, shining on the tufted bowers,
And burns its incense to the summer hours ;
And one that hiding low,
With shaded wiles
Hides and yet smiles.
LEONARDO DREW THE BLOOMS
On an April day :
How his subtle pencil loved its toil,
Loved to draw !
For he saw
In the rose's amorous, open coil
Women's placid temples that would foil
Hearts in the luring way
That checks and dooms
Men with reserve
Of limpid curve.
LEONARDO LOVED THE STILL
Violet as it blows,
Plucked it from the darkness of its leaves,
Where it shoots
From wet roots ;
Found in it the precious smile that weaves
Sweetness round Madonna's mouth and heaves
Her secret lips, then goes,
At its fine will,
About her face
He loved to trace.
LEONARDO DREW IN SPRING,
Restless spring gone by,
Flowers he chose should never after fade
For the wealth
Of strange stealth
In the rose, the violet's half-displayed,
Mysterious smile within the petals' shade
That season did not die,
Of ruin's blight
And April's flight.
From “Sight and Song” (1892) by Michael Field (pseud.)