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Three songs of shattering 
for Mezzo-Soprano and piano,
Op. 18

Date of Composition: 2009-10; rev. 2013

Duration: 10 Minutes

Text: St. Edna Vincent Millay      

Language: English

I. The First Rose

II. Let the Little Birds Sing

III. All the Dogwood Blossoms

Program Notes: The Three Songs of Shattering, Op. 18 for Mezzo-Soprano & Piano was composed in the winter of 2009-10 and dramatically revised in 2013. The songs are based on American lyric poet, playwright and Pulitzer Prize winner Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem cycle Three Songs of Shattering, first published in Renascence, and Other Poems in 1912. The first song is a brooding and dissonant setting. “The first rose on rose-tree budded, bloomed and shattered,” Millay reveals and later “Grief of grief has drained me clean.” Clearly she is in a dismal and unforgiving state of emotional torment. The second song is, in comparison, much lighter in character. Opening with a jaunty jazz-fused accompaniment, the mezzo sings “Let the little birds sing; Let the little lamb play.” A slow blues passage marked lento espressivo ushers in the cheerful opening material before pushing the singer to one of her highest notes. The final song in the cycle travels through a kaleidoscope of styles and musical textures. A dramatic maestoso opening sets up future musical material before the entrance of the first rhythmically instable theme in c minor. Echoes of the earlier songs wisp in and out of the musical landscape until a contrasting and very lush, romantic section emerges; “Ere, Spring was gone,” laments the mezzo with a hint of nostalgia. These two themes continue throughout the song in variation and are carefully knitted to weave in and out of one another seamlessly. The cycle is brought to a close in a resounding e-flat major while the singer belts “And weeds were tall on all the paths that led that way!”

Performance History:

-August 11th, 2013 – unSUNg – Songs Uncommon and New; St. Mark's Episcopal Church; Glendale, CA - 6PM

-September 1st, 2016; No. 1; Recital; Univ. of Wyoming; Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts; Laramie, WY – 7PM

-September 9th, 2016; No. 1; Recital; Laramie County Community College; Cheyenne, Wyoming – 12PM

-September 9th, 2017; No. 1; Hot off the Press; Immaculata University; Memorial Hall; Malvern, PA – 7:30PM

-October 21st, 2017; The Truth in Simple Things; St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Glendale, California – 8PM

-December 4th, 2019; No. 1; Musica Vitale; Encinitas Library; Encinitas, California – 12PM

-December 7th, 2019; No. 1; Musica Vitale; Coronado Library; Coronado, California – 7:30PM

-December 8th, 2019; No. 1; Musica Vitale; Private Home; Coronado, California – 5PM

George N. Gianopoulos


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