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Songs of Winter

The cycle opens with “How Like A Winter hath my Absence been”, a sonnet by William Shakespeare. I started work on this song in March of 2010 after a particularly hard winter. There was still snow on the ground, and I was anxious for Spring to arrive. The bleakness of Shakespeare’s words mirrored my sentiment, and it is this bleakness that I have tried to represent in the music. “Snow flakes” is a short poem by Emily Dickinson that describes a futile attempt at counting the flakes of falling snow. The music is very cheerful and portrays the excitement when snow first appears. “The Snow-storm”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a poem I have admired for some time.  Emerson makes great use of the destructive, yet beautiful, nature of a blizzard. The music contrasts tumultuous and angelic sections to echo this duality. Edward Thomas is perhaps the least familiar poet whose work can be found in this cycle. Thomas was one of many British poets killed during World War I, but he left behind a rich body of work. “Thaw” describes a rook, or crow, flying above the countryside watching the end of Winter as the snow melts. This beautiful poem was the perfect text to end the song cycle.

I. How Like A Winter hath my Absence been (Shakespeare)​​

II. Snow flakes (Dickinson)

III. The Snow-storm (Emerson)

IV. Thaw (Edward Thomas)

Ryan Woodhouse


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