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Two New E.E. Cummings Settings (With Recording!)

August 15, 2009 at 5:47 pm UTC

Here’s a live recording of the extraordinary National Youth Choir of Great Britain performing the two new E.E. cummings settings. Tali Tadmor is playing piano; I’m conducting:

I’m calling the piano part in these pieces the ‘oven-mitt’ technique, because most of the chords are white-key clusters played as if you are wearing mitts on your hands – the four fingers all bunched together and the thumb on its own, like this:

boulevard excerpt

I’ve really fallen in love with this style, so I’m definitely going to expand this set to include five or six E.E. Cummings settings – all of them using some variation on the ‘oven-mitt’ technique. Try it at the piano… it’s so much fun to play!

Here is a re-post ‘first look’ at page two from each piece (both pieces have piano intros on page one):

the moon is hiding in her hair pg 2

i walked the boulevard pg 2

And here are the poems I’ve set (thus far):

the moon is hiding in her hair

the moon is hiding in
her hair.
of heaven
full of all dreams,
draws down.

cover her briefness in singing
close her with intricate faint birds
by daisies and twilights
Deepen her,

upon her
the rain’s

pearls singly-whispering.

E.E. Cummings


i walked the boulevard

i walked the boulevard

i saw a dirty child
skating on noisy wheels of joy

pathetic dress fluttering

behind her a mothermonster
with red grumbling face

cluttered in pursuit

pleasantly elephantine

while nearby the father

a thick cheerful man

with majestic bulbous lips
and forlorn piggish hands

joked to a girlish bore

with busy rhythmic mouth
and silly purple eyelids

of how she was with child

E.E. Cummings


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