From the Garden04:34

From the Garden

David Del Tredici, born March 16, 1937 in Cloverdale, California. He debuted at San Francisco Symphony at 17 and earned a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley and an M.F.A. in 1964 from Princeton University. His teachers include Earl Kim, Seymour Shifrin, and Roger Sessions.

His compositions are currently in a tonal style and he is one of the clearest exemplars of neoromanticism. He is a Professor of Music at The City College of New York. Miz Inez Sez is a song cycle set to the poetry of Collete Inez. In the Garden was written in 1998. It is written for piano and voice. It is dedicated to Hila Plimann. The work is fanciful and fun, allowing room for imagination for both the creators and the audience of the music.

In the GardenEdit

In the Garden / the Beckoning is the fourth song in the cycle Miz Inez Sez.

The text is as follows: From the garden Blue salvia and carmine celosia Beckon to me in hoarse voices: Listen, you, you’re the ones, they say. We’ve got the red and blue shboom. Moles want from seats. Nothing but rave Reviews from the bees. So what’s with you and why the hurry? I shrug as I zip past them. Last night, blathering frogs And cricket Bravado. Now jabbering flowers The beckoning is a garden poem, descriptive with titles of flower names, with a heavy dose of nonsensical humor.

The form is in a concise ABA form. The middle B section is the most playful. With the performance direction of jauntily . And the highest note A6 appears in this section. The writing for the piano accompaniment is also the most expansive and climactic in this passage. In this passage, Tredici seems to set the verbs that appear in the text in a chromatic note, such as on got/want/rave/shrug/zip. The word zip is repeated four times along a decresendo.


Another piece from the cycle is the second song, This Happy Child. The text for this song is from Collete Inez’s fourth book of poetry, Family Life written in 1998.

The five verses which that make up the text is from an ‘inner child’ perspective. Four of these paint a happy child’s idyllic, fairy-tale existence. A dramatic shift of tone in the text reveals the lie in a voice of an ‘inner’ unhappy child-angry, resentful, hurting, and thus, ignored.

Tredici employ parallel major ninth chords in different keys for the first four verses, and shifts to a minor mode which rises to a passionate climax in the fifth. The piano accompaniment takes the shape of a fluid arabesque below the return of last four lines of the text in a lamenting spirit. The song ends with sporadic reappearances of the happy child.


I enjoy this song set and similar works in the American Songbook which display remarkable collaboration between poet and composer. The choices of text to set music to in this era is abundant compared to the Romantic German lieder era. This allows for a greater variety of songs to be produced, and for composers to have a truly unique voice in their composition of this genre. Personally, it adds depth to my understanding of the poetry.


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