Poem in October (1970)
Arranged for chamber orchestra by the composer (1999; revised 2003)
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see also: original version with chamber ensemble

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Commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 1969

Chamber orchestra version first performed as part of the composer’s A Dylan Thomas Trilogy, which was premiered March 11, 1999, by John Aler, tenor, and the National Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

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Scored for tenor and chamber orchestra: flute, oboe, clarinet, harpsichord, and strings

Duration  17 minutes

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Recordings
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Can be heard as part of A Dylan Thomas Trilogy, with Sir Thomas Allen, baritone; Ty Jackson, boy soprano; John Tessler, tenor, and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Leonard Slatkin, conductor Naxos 8.559394  (2008)

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Program note

What appeals to me most about Dylan Thomas’s poetry is the sound of his words. Phrases from Poem in October like “a springful of larks in a rolling cloud” and “the blue altered sky streamed again a wonder of summer” are in themselves musical. Then there is Thormas’s incredibly rich and concentrated imagery. Within a single sentence he will have three or four images in addition to the main one, so that a composer has a tremendous amount of material to work with.

Further, I love the cadential irregularity in the Thomas poems I have set, for it allowed me to write rhythmically irregular music without violating the pulse of the words. And I admire Thomas’s organization. For instance, near the end ofa poem he tends to recapituale not only words but earlier moments, so that building a musical structure on his texts seem an extremely natural undertaking.

Poem in October is cast as a rondo, where interludes for various combinations of the solo instruments separate the seven verses. The music itself is unabashedly lyrical. I sought to convey a pastoral feeling that would match the directness and simplicity of the text, to deal in understatement and succinctness rather than in complexity and theatrical effect.

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                     — John Corigliano

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