by Judd Greenstein


Year: 2003
Duration: 5' 00"
Instrumentation: SATB soloists and small SATB choir

Vocal arrangement set to text from Gertrude Stein's Patriarchal Poetry

Program Notes

When I first read excerpts from Gertrude Stein’s Patriarchal Poetry, I immediately thought that it could be effectively set to music in a quasi-minimalist style. Most poems require a good deal of text manipulation if they are to be set in such a style; in a typically linear poem, the repetition of musical phrases is not built into the text. In the case of the Patriarchal Poetry, however, very little manipulation was required, as the poetic lines repeat again and again, dictating the structure of the musical repetitions that I composed. Patriarchal Poetry seems to deal as much with the sounds of the words as with their meaning; in a sense, I am composing over a poem that is already itself a work of music. For me and for Stein, our roles of poet and composer are somewhat reversed in this piece, as I am attempting to bring out the meaning of the words on the page, just as Stein brought out the music that was inherent in those words. And so, although Stein has been dead for almost sixty years, I nevertheless think of this piece as an entirely collaborative effort. Let Her Be is dedicated to my sisters, Lael and Adra.

–Judd Greenstein