TWO AMERICAN SONGS
Soprano or Tenor
texts by Benjamin Franklin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Date of Composition: 1967
PROGRAM NOTES: The Two American Songs are settings of comments by Benjamin Franklin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on music making early in the history of the United States. Franklin describes in his Autobiography the music of the Moravians in Pennsylvania. The jaunry accompaniment depicts what I imagine Franklin's personality to have been like and indulges in a bit of obvious word painting with the mention of violins. The Longfellow lines (from his The Courtship of Miles Standish) describe the so-called Ainsworth Psalter of 1612, brought from Amsterdam to Massachusetts by the Puritans. The mood here is more severe, like the craggy tunes in Mr. Ainsworth's Book of Psalms. These songs were composed in Brooklyn around 1965.
-James Sellars, 1994