Midnight drearies : three moods on Edgar Allan Poe



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Edgar Allan Poe has long been considered one of the great writers in Gothic literature. His works, as he himself suggested in his essay “The Philosophy of Composition,” are intended to strike a unique balance between mainstream appeal and higher literary craft. In many ways, my goals as a composer are similar, not just in mitigating this often tenuous dynamic, but also in tapping into powerful emotional states. Poe is a master at creating moods, for instantly drawing the reader into his dynamic worlds. Many of his works spend a significant amount of time, sometimes paragraph upon paragraph as in the opening to The Fall of the House of Usher, simply detailing his specific vision of the story’s tenor. In this piece, I was interested in musically depicting the imagery, which Poe so eloquently writes. I have chosen three of Poe’s short stories: The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum, and The Fall of the House of Usher. In each movement, I deliberately avoid any programmatic connection to the story, that is to say specific events in the music do not coincide with any actual depiction of an event within the intended story. Rather this piece examines and details the specific tone of each story. Midnight Drearies: Three Moods on Edgar Allan Poe was written for Dan Welcher and the University of Texas New Music Ensemble.