Music to Recall a Tragedy By

Composition faculty member John Corigliano was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The resulting work, One Sweet Morning, will be performed on September 30, October 1, and October 4 under conductor Alan Gilbert. Corigliano describes writing it:


This was a difficult piece to write, and early on I decided to link the music to texts, rather than write just an orchestral piece. The reason for that is because I knew that if I wrote an orchestral piece, the members of the audience would be mentally replaying that horrific video of the planes hitting the towers and that my music would inevitably be interpreted as a sort of tone-poem of the event. Every crash of the orchestra would be taken as the moment one of the giant planes hit the towers: every scattering of notes from high to low would picture the terrible moments when people leaped off the building, and the major climax of the piece would be heard as depicting the collapse of the towers. I did not want this to happen, but felt it was unavoidable, so I wrote a setting to four poems about war from different cultures and different centuries. Ranging from a section of Homer’s Iliad to modern warfare and the hope of peace from Yip Harburg (yes, the man who wrote the lyrics to The Wizard of Oz), the poems take us on a journey through the horrors of war to a hoped-for peace.

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By Evan Fein

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