Soloist(s) and orchestra
Band / Wind / Brass Ensemble
Large ensemble
2-8 players
Solo (excluding keyboard)
Solo keyboard(s)
Chorus a cappella or plus 1 instrument
Chorus and orchestra
Solo voice and up to 8 players
The Ghosts of Versailles: arias and excerpts (voice(s) and piano)
Three Cabaret Songs (voice(s) and piano)
End of the Line
Film scores

Fern Hill (1960)
version for mezzo soprano, chorus, and orchestra

see also: 1965 version with full orchestra, 1999 version with chamber orchestra, and A Dylan Thomas Trilogy


First performed on April 24, 1976 Berenice Bramson, soprano, Cathedral Choral Society and National Symphony under Paul Callaway, National Cathedral, Washington, DC


rent score and parts from G. Schirmer Inc 

order vocal score from www.musicdispatch.com 


Scored for 2fl, 2ob, 2cl, 2bn, 4hns, 2tpts, 2 tbs, timp., 3 perc., pno, hrp, stgs

Duration  16 minutes



The Kansas City Chorale and the Fern Hill Orchestra; Charles Bruffy, conductor Nimbus 5449 (1995)


I first encountered Dylan Thomas’ work in 1959, my last undergraduate year at Columbia College. It was a revelation. Both the sound and structures of Thomas’s words were astonishingly musical. Not by accident, either: “What the words meant was of secondary importance; what matters was the sound of them...these words were as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments," he wrote in his Poetic Manifesto of 1951. I was irresistibly drawn to translate his music into mine.

One poem captivated me: Fern Hill, about the poet’s “young and easy" summers at his family’s farm of the same name. I wanted to write this work as a gift for my high-school music teacher, Mrs. Bella Tillis, who first encouraged my musical ambitions. She introduced Fern Hill with piano accompanying her (and, once, my) school choir.

Fern Hill is a blithe poem, yet touched by darkness; time finally holds the poet “green and dying," but the poem itself, formally just an ABA song extended into a wide arch, sings joyously of youth and its keen perceptions. I set it for mezzo-soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra, aiming to match the forthright lyricism of the text. (The direction “with simplicity" is everywhere in the printed score.)

                     — John Corigliano

home | works | recordings | performances | biography | press | media | contact
© 2008 - 2017 John Corigliano | Designed by Wlad Marhulets | Artwork photos by Richard Howe