Song of the River (1996)

for Viola and Piano

Commissioned for the John Hendrick Memorial Commission

Duration: 10 minutes

In 1996 during my senior year of college, I decided on a whim to walk the 1000-mile pilgrimage to Santiago across Europe; I was joined by two friends. On a snowy February morning in Le-Puy-en-Velay, underdressed and overburdened, we set off. Winter in the Auvergne was rough, especially with the snowstorm that blanketed the mountains and obscured the trail markers, but after some difficult times, convincing a hotel to open to take us in Saint-Privat d'Alier ("nous sommes pres de mort""!) and camping for three days in the forest above the village of Saugues, we opted to leave the mountains and restart our trek in Conques. Three months later we arrived in Compostela. It was an incredible journey.

On my return to the States, I was pleased to receive the John Hendrick Memorial Commission to write a new work. On the advice of my then-teacher Tobias Picker, I chose to write a work for viola and piano. (Violists always need music, he said.) The result was a three-movement 'Sonata for Viola and Piano' that premiered in a December concert that also featured music of Schubert and Vivian Fine.

'Song of the River' was the third movement of that work; the second having found new life as part of the 'Cancionero Anonimo.'
            -January 2021, New York

Masako Yanagita, viola
Daniel Epstein, piano

5 December 1996
Deane Carriage Barn
Bennington, Vermont




Score Sample
Purchase Score at Black Tea Music