Six Poems from Neruda's "Alturas..."

for Orchestra

David Felder

Duration: 00:19:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The life of the Chilean diplomat and poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) was marked by literary success even before he reached the age of twenty. He was awarded the Lenin Prize for Peace in 1953 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Six Poems from Neruda?s ?Alturas...? by American composer David Felder was commissioned jointly by the New York State Council on the Arts and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. It received its first complete performance on March 16, 1993, in Buffalo. In recognition of Felder?s deep interest in the symbolism of Neruda?s poetry, Maestro Maximiano Valdes suggested the project in its current setting for full orchestra. Although the work was inspired by the poetry, little moment-to-moment correspondence exists between the music and the poetry.

In Neruda?s poetry, a cycle of twelve poems, the first five serve as a kind of recapitulation of the various emotional and imagistic contexts of the poets earlier work. The poet weaves together strands, images and themes such as reverence for the natural world, cyclical aspects of regeneration, irresistible death and its accompanying transience of the individual against the background of the collective vastness of time. This is continuously accompanied by a strong sense of individual isolation and alienation and a powerful feeling of loss and longing for a discovery of a greater identity.

These powerful and even disturbing images have led the composer to create a three movement work in which the first five poems with the ninth provide the primary imagistic sources. The second poem provides the backdrop for the first movement, while poems I, III, IV, and V form the basis for the extended second movement. The surreal and extraordinary ninth poem, with its highly repetitive rhythmic incantation of two interlocking metaphors per line, is the source for the third movement of the work.

As in the case of Neruda?s poetry, the purely musical context is meant to suggest layers of meaning, and its syntax is correspondingly exploitive of a full range of ambiguities and associations; an evocative atmosphere is suggested by the web of meanings encoded within these most remarkable poems. The composer has broken with the poet at the nadir of the poet?s inward journey, and hopes to compose a companion work from that point of departure at a later date.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Buffalo Philharmonic with the New York State Council for the Arts, and the NEA.
Composition Date 1990-1992
Orchestration 3 3 3 3 - 4 3 2 1; Timp. 2Perc. Keybd. Hp. Str.
Premiere February 1st, 1992. Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.