Instrumentation baritone and piano

Vocal Range G2 to F4

Timing ca. 20′

Composed 2020

Poems by Jan Zwicky

Commissioned by Tyler Duncan, baritone, and Erika Switzer, piano

World Premiere October 2020, virtual concert presented by Music on Main, recorded at Chan Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia. Tyler Duncan, baritone; Erika Switzer, piano

Programme Notes

Bill Evans: Alone
Autumn Again
Night Music
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.

PDF perusal score (non-printable)

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.

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Score $30 print, $18 PDF.
Performance exclusivity extends through October, 2021.
To purchase, please contact me.