Samuel Adler

Fable of Fables

American composer conductor and scholar Samuel Adler was born in Mannheim, Germany, the son of cantor and composer Hugo Chaim Adler, and has lived in the United States since 1939.  He is the creator of more than 400 published orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and organ works, which are performed throughout the world.  Mr. Adler studied composition with Aaron Copland, Paul Hindemith, Hugo Norden, Walter Piston, and Randall Thompson and conducting with Serge Koussevitsky.  He has led orchestras throughout the U.S. and conducted the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Europe. He also served as music director at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, the Dallas Chorale, and Dallas Lyric Theater.

Mr. Adler has been on the faculty of The Juilliard School since 1997 and is the recipient of Juilliard’s William Schuman Scholar’s Chair.  Among other teaching positions, he taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he served as chair of the department of composition until he retired as professor emeritus.

Among his many honors is an ASCAP Aaron Copland Prize for lifetime achievement in composition and composition teaching and induction into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame.  He has also received the Medal of Honor from the United States Army, a Deems Taylor Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, as well as five fellowships to the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Samuel Adler speaks about Fable of Fables and accepting this Radio Radiance commission from YPC.

“I have been involved with the YPC and Francisco Núñez for several years now, and this is the third work I have written for them. I feel that this group is one of the most exciting vocal groups on the musical scene today. I was delighted to accept the latest commission to write for Radio Radiance, since I think that music on the radio presents a special challenge to both the composer and the performer.

“We are living in a visual age and I feel that this does not always serve music in the best manner. Radio, which gives the audience a greater opportunity to individually experience the music presented, is the ideal performance media.

“When I came across the poem FABLE OF FABLES by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, I immediately felt it was the right kind of poem to set. It is a bucolic, pastoral scene. A child imagines seeing its reflection on a pond or lake and being visited my imaginary friends: a tree, a cat, the sun, and their lives parading in front of them through these reflections.

“After imagining all these things, the thoughts slowly vanish and the ending is that “it is great to write a poem and be alive.”  In order to make the setting more vivid, each character in the poem is given a sound such as the triangle for every time ‘I’ or ‘Me’ occurs, a sound of a gong for the plane-tree, a toy drum for the cat, a finger cymbal representing the sun. I felt that this would help especially a radio audience to understand the poem more readily. I hope this poem and the setting will reflect my optimism about the joy of being alive today.”

Fable of Fables

Fable of Fables, for female chorus and instruments, was commissioned by and dedicated to the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Francisco J. Núñez, music director and conductor.  The text is by Nazim Hikmat translated from the Turkish by Richard McKane.

–Samuel Adler, 2014

Fable of Fables Text 

For SSAA and instruments
Music by Samuel Adler
Poem by Nazim Hikmat
Translated from the Turkish by Richard McKane

Resting by the waterside – the plane tree and I.
Our reflections are thrown on the water – the plane tree’s and mine.
The sparkle of the water hits us – the plane tree’s and me.
Resting by the waterside – the plane tree, I and the cat.
Our reflections are thrown on the water – the plane tree’s mine and the cat’s.
The plane tree, me and the cat.
Resting by the waterside – the plane tree, I, the cat and the sun.
Our reflections are thrown on the water – the plane tree’s, mine, the cat’s, and the sun’s
The sparkle of the water hits us – the plane tree, me, the cat, and the sun.
Resting by the waterside, the plane tree, I, the cat, the sun and our life
Our reflections are thrown on the water, the plane tree’s, mine and the cat’s, the sun’s and our life’s.
The sparkle of the water hits us – the plane tree, me, the cat, the sun and our life.
Resting by the waterside – its reflection will be lost on the water.
Then I will go – my reflection will be lost on the water.
Then the plane tree will go – its reflection will be lost on the water.
Then the water will go
The sun will remain – then it will go too
Resting by the waterside – the plane tree, I, the cat, sun and our life.
The water is cool.
I am writing a poem.
The sun is warm