Five Ruba’iyat

for soprano, flute, guitar and harp
composed 1989; duration 11 minutes
texts in English from Omar Khayyam
world premiere 1989 at IV Sønderho International Guitar Festival (Denmark)
Susanne Lange – soprano; Lars Graugaard – flute
Jørgen Bjørslev – guitar; Sofia Asunción Claro – harp

The piece started out as an interest for the somewhat unusual combination of voice with flute, guitar, and harp. But soon the unique and highly personal poetry of the 12th century Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyam became the all-dominating inspirational force.

The four-lined ruba’iyat proved very well suited for the sparse and transparent setting. Furthermore, the harp was an instrument well known to the Persians, and Omar Khayyam makes frequent reference to the instrument in his poetry.

The texts are the following:

Get up my sweetest, it is dawn.
Gently, sip the wine and twang the harp,
For not a soul will remain of those here.
And of those gone none will return

There was a waterdrop, it joined the sea;
A speck of dust, it was fus’d with earth
What of your ent’ring and leaving this world?
A fly appear’d and disappear’d

When your dear soul and mine have left the body,
They will set on our graves two tiles.
And then, for the tiles on others’ graves,
They will set your dust and mine in a mould.

Heaven’s wheel gain’d nothing from my coming,
Nor did my going augment it’s dignity;
Nor did my ears hear from anyone
Why I had to come and why I went.

Ah, it is morning, let us pour out the rose-red wine
smashing on the rocks the glass of fame and reputation.
Let us draw back from much projected hope,
Turning towards long tresses and the strings of the harp.

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Sound art
Chamber music
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