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Augusta Read Thomas

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Dream Threads (2008)
G Schirmer Inc
Year Composed
22 Minutes
Programme Note
Augusta Read Thomas Dream Threads (2008)
18 May 2008
Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra
William W. Wiedrich, conductor
Tampa, FL

William J. Bennett gathered hundred of stories about responsibility, honesty, friendship, and courage in his best-selling collection, The Book of Virtues. One of these, a French tale called "The Magic Thread," is the basis of Dream Threads.

The fable's synopsis:
Peter is a strong and able boy who is also impatient. Dissatisfied with the present, he spends his life day-dreaming about the future.

One day in the forest, he meets an old woman who gives him a tantalizing opportunity: the chance to skip the dull, mundane moments of life. She hands Peter a silver ball from which a tiny gold thread protrudes. "This is your life thread," she says. He could use it to speed up the passage of time. Once pulled it cannot be reversed.

This magical thread seems the answer to his Peter's problems. He takes the ball and runs home.

The following day Peter has his first chance to use the silver ball in school. A lesson drags on, and the teacher scolds Peter for not concentrating. He gives the thread a tug. Suddenly, the teacher dismisses the class, and Peter is free to leave school. He is overjoyed. How easy his life will become. Peter begins to pull the thread a little every day.

Peter uses the magic thread to rush through life. Why pull the thread just a little every day when he can pull it hard and complete school altogether? He does so and finds himself out of school and apprenticed in trade. Peter pulls hard on the thread to rush through his engagement to his sweetheart. He cannot wait to marry her.

Peter continues this pattern. He escapes difficult times with his magic thread. At the end of his life, though, Peter realizes his folly. Allowing impatience and discontent to rule, he has robbed himself of life's richest moments and memories.

He regrets ever pulling the magic thread. He returns it to the old woman — and then wakes up. It was all just a dream.

  • 09 DEC 2014
    Rantoul, IL
    University of Illinois
    Donald Schleicher, conductor
  • 17 MAY 2014
    Chicago, IL
    University of Chicago Chamber Orchestra
    Robert Whalen, conductor
  • 18 MAY 2008
    Dream Threads World Premiere
    Tampa, FL
    Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra
    William W. Wiedrich, conductor

The 22-minute work is full of shimmering, finely honed effects that suggest the ballets of Stravinsky.
John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times,19/05/2008
Written as a ballet in 11 short scenes, Dream Threads stands on its own as pure concert music, although the story's text appeared on a screen above the stage. Thomas exploits the entire spectrum of the orchestra, beginning with chamber-like solos and building up layers of texture alongside abrupt changes of mood and color.
Kurt Loft, The Tampa Tribune,19/05/2008
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