In Praise of Music

Program Notes:

American composer David Conte wrote this piece in three contrasting sections which are performed without pause. The first section, based on a fragment by Shelley, is very expressive and vigourous. In the second section with words by Dryden, the chorus sings in unison with a hushed, other-worldly tone, awed by the sound of Jubal’s lyre. The trio asks “What passion cannot music raise and quell?” The final section is marked “rapturously floating”, and begins with an extended piano solo which is joined by the alto melody “As the scent of a violet withered up…” and mysterious, pulsing echoes in the soprano accompaniment.

Conductor Notes:

SSA and piano


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.





First Section (words by Percy Bysshe Shelley) I pant for the music which is divine, My heart in its thirst is a dying flower; Pour forth the sound like enchanted wine, Loosen the notes in a silver shower; Like a herbless plain for the gentle rain, I gasp, I faint, till they wake again. Let me drink of the spirit of that sweet sound, More, O more! I am thirsting yet, It loosens the serpent which care has bound Upon my heart, to stifle it: The dissolving strain, through every vein, Passes into my heart and brain. Second Section (words by John Dryden) What passion cannot music raise, and quell? When Jubal struck the chorded shell, His listening brethren stood ’round. And wondering on their faces fell, To worship that celestial sound! Less than a god they thought there could not dwell Within the hollow of that shell That spoke so sweetly and so well. What passion cannot Music raise and quell? Third Section (words by Percy Bysshe Shelley) As the scent of a violet withered up, Which grew by the brink of a silver lake, When the hot noon has drained its dewy cup, And mist there was none its thirst to slake- And the violet lay dead while the odour flew On the wings of the wind o’er the waters blue- As one who drinks from a charmed cup Of foaming, and sparkling, and murmuring wine, Whom, a mighty Enchantress filling up, Invites to love with her kiss divine…