Music Speaks (download)

High voice and piano–3′

Preview the score:


Listen to a performance of the medium key:

Harrison Hintzsche, baritone; Mary Trotter, piano, at the 2018 Source Song Festival.


Music Speaks

High voice, piano
3′ duration
Text: Gordon Bottomley
7 pages
Published by North Star Music.

Also available a whole-tone lower here.

Gordon Bottomley (1874 – 1948) was an English poet born in Yorkshire. He was a close personal friend of Edward Thomas, and his specialty was verse dramas, often set in confined spaces with minimal scenery. The poem “In Memoriam A.M.W., September, 1910 (For a Solemn Music)” appeared in in An Annual of New Poetry, 1917, London: Constable and Co., Ltd.

My setting of that poem, “Music Speaks,” is a song about the power of music. It honors William F. Briggs, my high school choral director, a fine singer and friend who left us in 2013. Bill encouraged my early efforts in composition and led the first performance of my first choral work with the Penfield High School Choir. I’ve been a friend of the Briggs family since the 1970s. “Music Speaks” was first performed at Bill’s memorial service by his daughters Sarah and Beth.


Out of a silence
The voice of music speaks.

When words have no more power,
When tears can tell no more,
The heart of all regret
Is uttered by a falling wave
Of melody.

No more, no more
The voice that gathered us
Shall hush us with deep joy;
But in this hush,
Out of its silence,
In the awaking of music,
It shall return.

For music can renew
Its gladness and communion,
Until we also sink,
Where sinks the voice of music,
Into a silence.

–Gordon Bottomley (1874 – 1948). Published 1917.


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