Thirteen Ways to Look at a Blackbird

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Thirteen Ways to Look at a Blackbird is a series of miniatures for two flutists based upon American poet Wallace Steven’s poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” As Wallace’s poem is divided into thirteen short sections, this work is divided into thirteen movements depicting each stanza of poetry in the musical form of a pithy 140 character tweet.

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SKU: CTJ2017011 Categories: ,

Description

Approximate Duration: 13’30”

Instrumentation Information:

For Two Flutes (doubling Piccolo, Alto Flute, and Toyo)

World Premiere Video:

Premiered on July 3rd, 2017 by Duo Zonda (Orlando Cela & Wei Zhao, flutes) at Google Fiber Space, Charlotte, NC.

Program Notes

Look at a Blackbird is a series of miniatures for two flutists based upon American poet Wallace Steven’s poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” As Wallace’s poem is divided into thirteen short sections, this work is divided into thirteen movements depicting each stanza of poetry. The listener can view each of these as musical tweets, whether in the form of a pithy, 140-character statement, or a tweeting of the blackbird. Each musical work is directly tied to the poetic segment it is based upon, as the bird sits and critiques the little aspects of our lives.

Thirteen Ways to Look at a Blackbird
by Stephen Crane

I
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird. 

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds. 

III
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime. 

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling,
Or just after. 

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause. 

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved In what I know. 

IX
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge on of many circles. 

X
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply. 

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him, in that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

This was originally published in 1917, in Others: An Anthology of the New Verse, edited by Alfred Kreymborg.

Additional information

Ensemble Type

Chamber Ensemble, Duet

Instrument

2 Flutes in C, Alto Flute (doubling), Piccolo (doubling), Toyo (doubling)