Living A Life


The best I had done
scored for: mezzo-soprano and piano
duration: 3 minutes
text: Walt Whitman

Commissioned by/Premiere:

Commission Cincinnati Song Initiative and Blythe Gaissert
Blythe Gaissert, mezzo-soprano / Donna Loewy, piano
November 14, 2019 / Cincinnati Song Initiaitve, Cincinnati, OH


Recording and score are available on request

About the work:

The best I had done is a setting of a short excerpt from Whitman's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. The spark for the song was Blythe, who sent this section of the text to me one night and it simply clicked.

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also,
The best I had done seem'd to me blank and suspicious;
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre?
[would not people laugh at me?]

It is not you alone who know what it is to be evil;
I am he who knew what it was to be evil;
I too knitted the old know of contriety,
Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
-Walt Whitman, from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry