Love Song

for soprano, viola, and cello

Text by Rainer Maria Rilke

premiered September 21, 2008
Lucy Shelton, soprano; Cynthia Fogg, viola; Tom Flaherty, cello
Bridges Hall, Claremont, California


Love Song is a setting of a short poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. My wife Cindy found it some years ago and it has been posted on my composition desk ever since. The fortuitous appearance by Lucy Shelton inspired this short setting, which is dedicated to Cindy.


How shall I withhold my soul so that
it does not touch on yours? How shall I
uplift it over you to other things?
Ah willingly would I by some
lost thing in the dark give it harbor
in an un-familiar silent place
that does not vibrate on when your depths vibrate.
Yet everything that touches us, you and me,
takes us together as a bow's stroke does.
that out of two strings draws a single voice.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what player has us in his hand?
O sweet song.

-Rainer Maria Rilke , translated by M. D. Herter Norton