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John Harbison

Publisher: AMP

Book of Hours and Seasons (1975)
Text Writer
German; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
mezzo soprano
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Programme Note
John Harbison Book of Hours and Seasons (1975)
Composer note:

The Book of Hours and Seasons began with the setting of Um Mitternacht written for D’Anna Fortunato; gradually other Goethe settings and an interlude were added. Immer and Uberall uses four eastern modes, which then form the basis of an instrumental piece in four sections. This interlude is a miniature “Seasons” with the listener invited to decide where the cycle begins. The outer movements express my love for the German language and the aspects of German culture represented by Goethe’s poetry; it was my second language and culture as I was beginning in music, and these pieces reflect upon those times. The bell-like chords, which begin Um Mitternacht, were the germinating force for all the movements.

— John Harbison

Sample Pages

  • Ensemble
    Chicago Chamber Musicians
    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Emily Lodine, mezzo-sopranos
Indeed, the theme of cyclical, natural patterns, such as the rising and falling of the moon and the coming and going of the midnight hour, runs throughout Goethe’s four poems…the Book of Hours and Seasons is an intriguing composition.
Jessica Balik, San Francisco Classical Voice,5/17/2016
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