A Dream Deferred
Piano & Choral
Commissioned at the 1993 GALA Leadership Conference for the Gateway (St. Louis) Men’s Chorus. Also written for TTBB and piano with Tenor solo. Text by Langston Hughes.
- G. Schirmer, Inc.
Do You Understand Langston Hughes “A Dream Deferred”?
Langston Hughes’ poem “A Dream Deferred” is a powerful exploration of the consequences of delaying or denying one’s dreams and aspirations. It was first published in 1951 as part of his collection titled “Montage of a Dream Deferred.” The poem consists of a series of vivid and provocative questions, each of which suggests a different outcome when a dream is deferred or put off. Here’s an analysis of the poem:
- “What happens to a dream deferred?”
- The poem begins with a straightforward question, setting the stage for an exploration of the possible outcomes of a dream that is postponed or unfulfilled.
- “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
- This line suggests that a deferred dream may wither and lose its vitality, much like a grape becomes a dried-up raisin when it’s left out in the sun. This metaphor illustrates the idea that when dreams are not pursued, they lose their potential and significance.
- “Or fester like a sore— And then run?”
- In this line, Hughes compares a deferred dream to an untreated sore that festers and eventually bursts open. The image implies that suppressed dreams can lead to internal turmoil and emotional upheaval, which may eventually erupt in an unexpected and potentially destructive manner.
- “Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— like a syrupy sweet?”
- Hughes uses vivid sensory imagery in these lines to depict the various possible outcomes of a dream deferred. The smell of rotten meat and the sugary crust represent contrasting and extreme consequences: the former conveys a sense of decay and unpleasantness, while the latter suggests a superficial and deceptive appearance.
- “Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.”
- This line evokes the idea that a deferred dream can become burdensome, weighing down the dreamer with unfulfilled desires and unachieved goals. It paints a picture of weariness and frustration that comes from carrying the weight of unmet ambitions.
- “Or does it explode?”
- The poem concludes with a dramatic and powerful image, suggesting that a dream deferred can lead to explosive and potentially destructive consequences. This explosion can manifest in various ways, such as anger, rebellion, or a sudden burst of creative energy. It underscores the idea that suppressing one’s dreams can have profound and unpredictable consequences.
Overall, Langston Hughes’ “A Dream Deferred” is a thought-provoking exploration of the emotional and psychological toll of postponing or denying one’s dreams. It uses vivid and evocative language to convey the complex and often tumultuous emotions associated with deferred aspirations, ultimately highlighting the importance of pursuing one’s dreams before they lead to negative consequences.
A Little About Paul Siskind
The Remarkable Career of Paul Siskind: A Diverse Composer and Music Educator
When it comes to the world of music composition, few artists have left a mark as profound and versatile as Paul Siskind. His extraordinary career has spanned numerous genres, from orchestral masterpieces to the toe-tapping rhythms of big band jazz. In this blog post, we will delve into the life and achievements of this renowned composer, exploring his wide-ranging compositions, accolades, contributions to music education, and much more.
Paul Siskind’s Musical Odyssey
Paul Siskind’s musical journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. His compositions encompass a wide spectrum of genres, including orchestral, band, choral, chamber music, opera, art song, and big band jazz. This versatility is a testament to his mastery of the craft, allowing him to paint vivid musical landscapes across different musical realms.
Performance and Recognition
Siskind’s works have graced the stages of prestigious ensembles not only in the United States but also abroad. Some of the illustrious names include the Minnesota Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, the Arditti String Quartet, the Dale Warland Singers, the New Amsterdam Singers, Continuum, eXindigo, the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble, and the Mi-bemol Saxophone Ensemble. These ensembles have not only performed his compositions but have also commissioned his work, highlighting the respect and admiration his music commands.
Awards and Honors
The recognition and accolades bestowed upon Paul Siskind are a testament to his exceptional talent. Among his major honors are the 1999 New Music Delaware Composition Prize, the 1996 Minnesota Orchestra Perfect Pitch Program, and the 1995 G. Schirmer Young American’s Art Song Competition. These awards serve as a testament to the depth and quality of his compositions.
Beyond these prestigious awards
Siskind’s trophy cabinet also includes the 1995 Friends and Enemies of New Music Contest, the 1994 Omaha Symphony Guild Prize, and a Composition Fellowship from the McKnight Foundation in 1993. These accolades, along with numerous other awards, grants, and commissions from organizations such as ASCAP, Meet The Composer, the Puffin Foundation, the American Music Center, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Leif Ericksson International Festival, underscore the profound impact of his work on the world of contemporary music.
Siskind’s influence extends beyond the concert hall. He was a distinguished guest at the inaugural international Words and Music Conference in 1994, sponsored by the Latin American Music Center at Indiana University. His involvement in such events demonstrates not only his artistry but also his commitment to the global music community.
In addition to his prolific composition career, Paul Siskind is a dedicated music educator. He imparts his knowledge as a faculty member at the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam, where he continues to inspire the next generation of musicians. His educational journey includes a Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Minnesota, with prior studies at Queens College, the Crane School of Music, and Tufts University, where he also earned a degree in biology.
Throughout his educational journey, Siskind was fortunate to learn from some of the most influential figures in the music world. His teachers, including Dominick Argento, Thea Musgrave, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Starer, Robert Washburn, and T. J. Anderson, have undoubtedly shaped his approach to composition and contributed to the richness of his work.
A Multifaceted Career
Paul Siskind’s contributions to the music industry go beyond his roles as a composer and educator. He has served as a Composer-in-Residence for the Education Department of Minnesota Opera, Music Director of One Voice Mixed Chorus, Twin Cities Events Coordinator for the American Composers Forum, and an Auditor for the New York State Council on the Arts. These roles demonstrate his commitment to nurturing the arts and supporting fellow musicians.
Legacy Through Publication and Recording
Siskind’s music continues to captivate audiences and musicians alike. His compositions are published by G. Schirmer Inc. and Sweet Child Music, ensuring that future generations of musicians can access and perform his works. Furthermore, his artistry has been preserved through recordings by esteemed ensembles such as the Minnesota Contemporary Ensemble (on Innova/Albany) and the Heartland Men’s Chorus, allowing his compositions to reach a global audience.
In conclusion, Paul Siskind’s remarkable career is a testament to the power of creativity and dedication in the world of music. His diverse compositions, numerous awards, commitment to education, and multifaceted roles within the music industry have left an indelible mark on the world of contemporary music. As his compositions continue to resonate with audiences and performers alike, his legacy as a composer and music educator remains secure for generations to come.
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- 16 Pages
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