Fugue – Lullaby – Dance
Commissioned by the Verdehr Trio and Michigan State University
These three pieces derive from a story by the British poet John Heath-Stubbs (1918-
2006) called The Unicorns. Two unicorns are discovered in a remote part of Africa.
The two countries Eastland and Westland want to obtain specimens for research so
they send out competing expeditions. The Westland technique is to lure the unicorn
with a young girl singing - the Lullaby. The Eastland team uses a dancer so that the
unicorn impales itself on a tree – the Dance. Both teams are successful in capturing a
unicorn but the mythical animals fall in love and escape happily together in the end.
In the story, the Fugue celebrates the eventual capture of the unicorns but it is placed
first here as a celebration of the remarkable career of the Verdehr Trio. Since they
began in 1972 they have commissioned over 230 works, have performed all over the
world and made recordings. As a result they have virtually created the repertoire for
the medium of violin, clarinet and piano. I much enjoyed writing my American Trio
(Hymns, Rags and Blues) for the Trio in 1985; they played it all over the world and
have recorded it; and this Celebration Trio is a tribute to their musicianship and