A lullaby for solo piano, inspired by Chopin’s iconic Berceuse and Benny Golson’s I Remember Clifford.
Berceuse for Benjamin
“Good.” Benjamin Daughtry
Instrumentation: piano solo
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
Commission: [Just Out of Reach commissioned by Kevin Noe & PNME / Theatre of Music]
Dedication: for Benjamin (and Martin) Daughtry
Additional Credits: n/a
Other Links: n/a
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.