Non Sequitur Music

Five Pieces on Poems by Robert Frost

Composer: Lesley Sommer
Instrumentation: piano
Year Composed: 2000
Duration: 10 minutes (5 movements)
Cost: Purchase: $10.00

Program Notes:

I wrote these pieces for Bellingham pianist Judith Widrig. The first, third, and fifth pieces were inspired by three poems of Robert Frost: Acquainted with the Night, Design, and Come In (see below). The first and third poems contain similar poetical themes, so I decided to link the corresponding piano pieces through the use of shared musical themes.

The two Secret Interludes are free reflections on the three poems, and swing wildly between contemplative and manic moods. The astute listener might hear a recurring "secret" musical quotation of an old jazz standard in these Interludes. This quotation wears several different musical disguises, thereby conveying contrasting moods.


I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain---and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.


I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth---
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth---
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?---
If design govern in a thing so small.


As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music---hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it could still sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went---
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars:
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked,
And I hadn't been.

-taken from The Poetry of Robert Frost, Edward Connery Lathem, ed. (Henry Holt and Company, 1979)

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