John Alden Carpenter: The Sleep that Flits on Baby’s Eyes

16 03 2009

the sleep

"does anybody know from where it comes?"

I was listening to an interview on MPR Mid-morning in which psychology researcher Dacher Keltner, discussing communal structures, mentioned that “babies ensure their own care” by being cute and helpless. And if you’ve ever seen a sleeping baby, you can’t help but smile and say, “AWWWwwww.”  Carpenter captures that sense in music paired with Tagore’s magical/mystical text.

Carpenter is a minor figure in American art song, but his handful of songs are well-crafted, and a pleasure both to hear and to sing. This particular song comes from his cycle of six songs, Gitanjali.



2 responses

18 03 2009
john mclaughlin williams

Interesting focus for your blog. Question: if Carpenter is a minor figure in American art song (I consider him a major one), who is a major figure? Rorem? Great songs, but imo Carpenter is better and more consistent.

18 03 2009

He’s minor in the sense that he’s not a household name in the way Ives, Barber, Copland, and Rorem are. I agree about Rorem, though.

So that’s a good question: who belongs alongside Carpenter in the list of major, though somewhat unfamiliar, American composers?

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