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Ah, Copyright…

March 11, 2014 at 3:36 am UTC

With all the talk in my last post about being denied the rights to set Shel Silverstein’s poetry to music – his estate won’t allow it – I was suddenly reminded of three of my pieces that almost didn’t survive because of the same problem: Cloudburst, Water Night and A Boy and a Girl.

I had already written Cloudburst and Water Night and had tried for over a year to get Octavio Paz’s publishers to grant me permission, but they repeatedly said ‘no’. Finally, I wrote directly to Octavio Paz himself and he wrote me back a beautiful letter, granting me permission to use not only those poems but any others I wanted to set in the future. (Five years later I wrote A Boy and a Girl). Had it not been for direct contact with him (he died the following year) those three pieces would never have been published.

One other funny story: Cloudburst and Water Night were initially turned down by about a dozen music publishers because – and I quote – “no choir on earth is going to sing in 14 parts”. Heh heh heh.


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