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I've Known Rivers

By Gwyneth W. Walker

Detailed Description

Tenor voice and piano - Early Intermediate
Composed by Gwyneth W. Walker (1947-). Martin Luther King Day, 21st Century. E.C. Schirmer Publishing #8825. Published by E.C. Schirmer Publishing (EC.8825).

Item Number: EC.8825


I've Known Rivers is a multi-movement work, comprised of songs based on four different poems by Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Though he lived much of his life in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Hughes was born in Missouri and raised in Kansas, Illinois, and Ohio. At age seventeen, he traveled to Mexico to live with his estranged father.

As he crossed the Mississippi River, he was inspired to write The Negro Speaks of Rivers, which begins "I've known rivers....," and is the text for the first movement, "My Soul Has Grown Deep." It reflects upon rivers of historic and geographical importance--the Euphrates, Congo, Nile, and Mississippi. As the rivers have endured over time, so has the human soul. The waters--the blood--runs deep.
In contrast to the universal message of the first song, "Troubled Water," which uses the poetry of the same title, is contemporary and personal. Water becomes an image of the unsettled and uncertain nature of love. The journey of love is a journey of troubled water. There is no resolution.
Undaunted by the elusive nature of love, the poet, heard via the chorus, turns flippant, displaying a persevering and humorous outlook in "Jump Right In!" (to the river) from Hughes' poem Life is Fine. Romantic misadventures will not conquer the spirit. "I could've died for love, but for livin' I was born."
"In time of silver rain," once more using the poem of the same title, is a song of healing. With the regeneration of spring, the poet marvels at the wonder of life.
Though intended to be performed as the complete multi-movement work I've Known Rivers, each song may be performed separately. Duration: 12:00.
My Soul has Grown Deep
Troubled Water
Jump Right In!
In Time of Silver Rain.

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