Peter Lieberson won the University of Louisville's 2008 Grawemeyer Award
for Music Composition for Neruda Songs
, his song-cycle for mezzo-soprano and orchestra on poetry of Nobel Prize-winning Pablo Neruda.
"I am delighted to have received it, particularly for Neruda Songs
. They are very special to me, as they were written for Lorraine."
Read an interview with Peter Lieberson at NewMusicBox.
Listen to clips at Nonesuch Records.
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,
I discovered the love poems of Pablo Neruda by chance in the Albuquerque airport. The book had a pink cover and drew me in. As I glanced through the poems I immediately thought that I must set some of these for Lorraine. Years later the opportunity came when the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra co-commissioned this piece from me, to be written specifically for Lorraine.
Each of the five poems that I set to music seemed to me to reflect a different face in love's mirror. The first poem, "If your eyes were not the color of the moon," is pure appreciation of the beloved. The second, "Love, love, the clouds went up the tower of the sky like triumphant washerwomen," is joyful and also mysterious in its evocation of nature's elements: fire, water, wind, and luminous space. The third poem, "Don't go far off, not even for a day," reflects the anguish of love, the fear and pain of separation. The fourth poem, "And now you're mine. Rest with your dream in my dream," is complex in its emotional tone. First there is the exultance of passion. Then, gentle, soothing words lead the beloved into the world of rest, sleep and dream. Finally, the fifth poem, "My love, if I die and you don't," is very sad and peaceful at the same time. There is the recognition that no matter how blessed one is with love, there will be a time when we must part from those whom we cherish so much. Still, Neruda reminds one that love has not ended. In truth there is no real death to love nor even a birth: "It is like a long river, only changing lands, and changing lips."
I am so grateful for Neruda's beautiful poetry, for although these poems were written to another, when I set them I was speaking directly to my own beloved, Lorraine.
— Peter Lieberson