Bill Evans: Alone
Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 17
From the first moment I heard Jan Zwicky read from her work—richly layered poems that evoke nature, music, and profound distilled emotional moments—I hoped someday to have the chance to set her words to music. When baritone Tyler Duncan and pianist Erika Switzer asked me to write a new song cycle for them, that day arrived.
In exploring Zwicky’s poetry together, one poem in particular stood out. Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 17—Zwicky’s response to the monumental Romantic piano work that was itself Schumann’s response to Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte—included brief quotations from the Jeitteles poems that Beethoven set (just as Schumann quoted musical fragments from the Beethoven). This major poem naturally became the cornerstone for this new cycle. The musical setting is my own response to Zwicky, Schumann, and Beethoven. Opening with a short fantasia based on the same Beethoven fragment that Schumann quoted, the song follows the Fantasie‘s structure and proportions, borrowing selected musical materials and expanding them in new directions to express memory, distance, and the fleetingness of moments together.
The three shorter preceding songs complement the themes of loneliness and aloneness, distance and home. Bill Evans: Alone is another of Zwicky’s responses to music, here in a setting that draws on jazz vocal inflections and Evans-style piano sonorities. In Autumn Again, the evening sounds of crickets and katydids trigger a reflection on the nature of existence and happiness. The restrained and transparent Night Music captures a single vision in moonlight, perhaps real, perhaps memory.
Everything Already Lost was commissioned by baritone Tyler Duncan and pianist Erika Switzer. It was made possible with funding from Pascal Milelli in memory of Dr. Steen Olaf Welding, and support from the SOCAN Foundation.
[“Schumann: Fantasie Op. 17” is] an intriguing piece and, to me, sounds more driven, more dissonant and more outward looking than the other three pieces of the cycle which are more meditative and introspective. All four pieces are intriguing texts set to music which suits them well and in which voice and piano are well integrated while retaining a degree of separation. I like the piece a lot. (John Gilks/operaramblings.blog)
The highest compliment I can pay to Jeffrey Ryan is to say that throughout “Everything already lost” … his writing, for both piano and voice, does full justice – through its own understated thoughtfulness and expressivity – to the layered significances of Jan Zwickyʼs poems. … I hope that Ryanʼs “Everything already lost” will be taken up by other recitalists; it deserves to be heard widely. (Glyn Pursglove/MusicWeb International)
… a strangely evocative and haunting work. (Ralph Graves/Finding Beauty in Ephemera)
… music to return to. (Göran Forsling/MusicWeb International)
The last four tracks [of A Left Coast] truly stand out to me. They are from Ryanʼs “Everything Already Lost.” With titles like “Bill Evans: Alone,” “Autumn Again,” “Night Music” and “Schumann: Fantasie, Op. 17” meant I skipped ahead to hear them first. And I was richly rewarded with thoughtful works beautifully performed. (Craig Byrd/Cultural Attaché)
World premiere performance at Chan Centre, Vancouver, Canada, presented by Music on Main.
Video will start at performance; scroll back for a 14-minute preview/interview with performers Tyler Duncan and Erika Switzer, and composer Jeffrey Ryan
PDF perusal score
Everything Already Lost perusal Note regarding printed programmes: The poems by Jan Zwicky may be reprinted in performance programmes, CD liner notes, or otherwise made available to an audience. Any such print versions should be scrupulous in reproducing the poems as they appear in the front matter of the score, including the Poet’s note and the publication information. A Word document to help facilitate this is available by contacting the composer via jeffreyryan.com.
Score $30 print, $18 PDF.
To purchase, please contact me.