You, As You Were Before You Existed


for Violin and Cello (2013)

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9 min.


for Violin and Cello

Program Notes

This work was inspired by Pablo Neruda’s poem “Every Day You Play” from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. The poem (one of the twenty concerning love) is filled with mysterious yet evocative phrases, and I was particularly fascinated with a line at the end of the second stanza: “Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed”. The words resonated with an idea for a piece that had been gestating in the back of my mind. My initial concept was of a melody that gradually emerged from chaos and was transformed over time, eventually reaching an emotional climax far removed from the tumult of the opening. In this duet for violin and cello, I have left the meaning of that transformation ambiguous, mirroring my own reading of Neruda’s text. Who is the “you” of whom Neruda writes, and how could he member someone before they existed? Is his beloved’s true identity what she has become or the inherent potential she had before she “existed”?


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