Four Dickinson Songs


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Four Dickinson Songs

“Gordon Getty is on his best and most infectious behavior with his Dickinson settings, perfectly nuanced to the unusual and often quirky pauses of Emily Dickinson in a way that perhaps only Aaron Copland could have managed.”
Steven Ritter
Audiophile Audition, 2013

  • For voice and piano or orchestra
  • Duration: 6:30
  • Poems by Emily Dickinson

Set of four song settings of Emily Dickinson’s poems:
Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers
A Bird Came Down the Walk
There’s a Certain Slant of Light
Because I Could Not Stop for Death

Orchestration: flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, percussion, harp, keyboard, strings
Perusal score and text available upon request

Stream Four Dickinson Songs on the album: The Hours Begin to Sing

Stream Four Dickinson Songs on the album: A Certain Slant of Light

These four poems were among those I considered when writing The White Election over twenty years ago. I had written what became the main music of “A Bird Came Down the Walk” in college days, in the spirit of Schubert or Schumann, but never whipped it into publishing shape. When Barbara Bonney kindly asked for a few songs to verse by an American poetess, I was grateful to be reminded of this unfinished business, along with the opportunity to suggest the oppressive cathedral tunes and the clip-clop of the hearse carriage in the second and last songs.

Painting: Emily Dickinson by Agnes Yau

Gordon Getty discusses the song cycles “Poor Peter” and “Four Dickinson Songs”


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The poetry of Emily Dickinson has been set by many composers very effectively, and Gordon Getty proves himself worthy to be in their company. These elegant settings of her “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers,” “There’s a Certain Slant of Light,” “A Bird Came Down the Walk,” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” all distill the essence of Dickinson’s lyrical poetry.
David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, 2013