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Peter Lieberson

Publisher: AMP

The World in Flower (2007),
Text Writer
Rilke/Maxwell/Hopkins/Solomon/Rumi/Mechtild of Magdebur/Uvanuk/Neruda/Porete/Whitman/Navajo
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
40 Minutes
SATB chor
English, Spanish
Solo Instrument(s)
Mz, Bar
Programme Note
Peter Lieberson The World in Flower (2007),
7 May 2009
Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano
Russell Braun, baritone
New York Choral Artists
New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, conductor
New York, NY


  • Prelude
  • 1. I Live My Life in Widening Circles
    Text: Rilke
    SATB chorus
  • 2. Owl Woman's Song
    Text: Juana Maxwell
  • 3. That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection
    Text: G.M.Hopkins
  • 4. From The Odes of Solomon
    Mz, SATB chorus
  • 5. Excerpts from Rumi and Mechtild of Magdebur
    Mz, Bar, SATB chorus
  • Prelude — The Great Sea...
    Text: Uvanuk
  • 6. Oceana
    Text: Neruda
    Mz, Bar
  • Prelude
    Text: Marguerite Porete
    SATB chorus
  • 7. From Leaves of Grass
    Text: Whitman
  • 8. Prayers from the Navajo
    Mz, Bar, SATB chorus

Composer note:

In general I like writing to texts very much. In fact, most of what I've written in recent years has been vocal music. It has opened up a new world for me. I've always loved poetry. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, but then music took over. The style in which I write now has been very affected by being with Lorraine [Hunt Lieberson] and hearing her sing, and realizing one has to give weight to words. Very often, my tempi would be faster than those she sang in performance, [with her] needing time to enunciate words, and also to give expression to the emotions contained in the words. ... I sometimes think that composers write at a faster tempo than [a piece] is performed [at]. What takes place in the mind is a different thing from what is articulated by performers.

I am always a little worried about calling a musical piece spiritual or religious. Rather than being so concerned about writing a piece that is spiritual or religious, which one might think one must listen to in a certain way, with this piece I set texts that are the utterances of a fully developed human being. We are in a very intolerant age. The less space we have to live in, it seems the less tolerance we have; the way points of view are expressed in language seem more important than the essence that is expressed.

— Peter Lieberson

"Harmonically friendly and philosophically deep"
David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer,14/05/2009
"[A] serene, sincere, and sometimes perplexing piece...Mr. Lieberson takes more chances and pushes to extremes."
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times,08/05/2009
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