Dawn for Horn in F and piano is inspired by a poem of the same name by Scandinavian Poet Edith Södergran (1892-1923). This work was commissioned by Steven Cohen to make the premiere recording on his CD Cruise Control and premiere during the 50th International Horn Symposium. He wanted a work that was bold and adventurous, and this poem guides us on such a journey into unknown lands revealed by the coming dawn.
The piece opens freely as the piano fluidly fills the space between night and dawn. The horn weaves the melodic gestures of the dawn, skimming the surface with some unique techniques for the horn that represent the mysterious time between dark and light. The colors of the horn and piano throughout the work capture the sparkle of a sunrise, the swift winds, and the inevitability of the rising dawn. I was especially drawn to the idea of dawn being a female figure: “I am the pitiless goddess of the day…” and using the horn’s ability to be both delicate at times, and at others, powerful and grand, to represent Dawn in all of her glory.
It is such an honor to write this work for Steven and to be a part the CD and project of new works for horn.
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I kindle my light over the whole Atlantic…
Unknown worlds, night-covered lands
awaken toward me!
I am the cold dawn.
I am the pitiless goddess of the day
in misty gray veils
With a little early morning helmet-glitter.
Swiftly, swiftly my winds skim over the ocean.
My shiny horn hangs by my side, I do not blow it for departure…
Do I still tarry? Is some god still dozing?
Morning rises red out of the ocean.
“Dawn” by Edith Södergran, translated by Daisy Aldan and Leif Sjöberg, was originally published in Swedish and English in Violet Twilights (Scandinavian Writers Chapbook 1, Merrick, NY: Cross-Cultural Communications, 1993). Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Stanley H. Barkan.