Berceuse for Benjamin

Berceuse for Benjamin

A lullaby for solo piano, inspired by Chopin’s iconic Berceuse and Benny Golson’s I Remember Clifford.

“Good.” Benjamin Daughtry

Category:  instrumental

Instrumentation:  piano solo

Status:  complete

Duration:  4m

Completed:  June 2008

World Premiere:  July 26, 2008
Just Out of Reach @ PNME

Upcoming Performances:  n/a

Other Notable Performances:
  • 2008/07/26  JOOR @ PNME
  • 2008/08/01  JOOR @ Edinburgh Fringe
  • 2009/07/18  Chamber Music @ Domaine Forget
  • 2014/02/10  Chrysalis @ Kanawha Forum
  • Jean Marchand, piano (live recording: July 17, 2009)

    Commission:  [Just Out of Reach commissioned by Kevin Noe & PNME / Theatre of Music]

    Dedication:  for Benjamin (and Martin) Daughtry

    Additional Credits:  n/a

    Recordings:  n/a

    Reviews:  n/a

    Other Links:  n/a

    Program Notes
    • On November 26, 2002, my dear friends Martin and Emily Daughtry were blessed with their first child, a son they named Benjamin.

      To commemorate the occasion, I wanted to write something — a lullaby. So I began composing a piano solo inspired by Chopin’s famous Berceuse. However, I only wrote the first thirteen measures before putting the piece aside. It remained unfinished until 2008, when I completed it for use in the theatrical work Just Out of Reach. There, it underscores Tantalus’s ritual sacrifice of his son, Pelops, a context which inspired the inclusion of the well-known “Dies Irae” melody (which would seem quite out of place otherwise).

      Berceuse for Benjamin also contains another, less obvious, musical reference: the opening theme is a reinterpretation of the melody from Benny Golson’s exquisite I Remember Clifford. I included this quotation especially for Martin, to memorialize a shared experience we had in the early 1990s, when we witnessed a remarkable performance of that song by the legendary Mel Tormé.

      In 2009, I was finally able to send Benjamin a recording of “his piece”. Martin later reported to me that when Benjamin — then seven years old — listened to it, “he got a kind of a glassy, far-away look in his eyes, and started rocking ever so slightly back and forth, and when it finished, he blushed, smiled bashfully, and said, ‘Good.’” I count that among my most cherished critical reviews.