The Raven
for narrator, harp and string quartet

Alexina Louie
Composer
Alexina Louie
Composition Date: 2009
Revision Date: 2015
Duration: 00:14:00
Genre: Mixed Chamber Ensembles (1 to 9 Performers), Quintets, , Plectral String(s) / Bowed String(s)

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Harp
  • 1 x Narrator/Actor
  • 2 x Violin
  • 1 x Viola
  • 1 x Violoncello
Click here to download full work (7.71 Mb - Not printable)

Programme Note:
Written as an expression of profound grief over the loss of a loved one, most likely that of his wife, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven (1845) is an atmospheric, mysterious and
emotionally powerful narrative poem. When asked by musician/broadcaster Tom Allen if I would be interested in setting it for narrator, harp and string quartet, I was intrigued by the project and began to research the poem and its meaning.

The musical introduction immediately sets an empty and eerie mood. The introʼs gently rocking repetition of the interval of a third draws the listener into the mysterious
atmosphere of the poet’s chamber. Over the course of the composition, this motif becomes more agitated as the narrator’s increasing distress manifests itself almost to
the point of madness due to his unbearable loss.

Inspired by the images of Poeʼs evocative and poetic language, I used the technique of word painting throughout the piece: the raven who came “tapping at my chamber door”
is evoked by col legno battuto (striking the strings with the wood as well as the hair of the bow), the “rustling of each purple curtain” implied by overlapping glissandi on the
harp, “Tis the wind and nothing more!” by a whistling effect on the harp.

For additional structural cohesion, I incorporated two musical themes from Schubert’s Death and the Maiden Quartet (Quartet No. 14 in D minor), whose second movement is
based on a Schubert song about a woman’s struggle with death. Hints of Schubertʼs well-recognized themes are woven into the fabric of my piece and support the common
inspiration of a womanʼs death. As in my composition, Schubertʼs quartet uses the interval of a third as an important musical element. When the poet orders the raven to
“quit the bust above my door!” in the penultimate stanza, the inferences of Death and the Maiden finally evolve into a direct, recognizable, forceful quotation - the opening
bars of the Schubert quartet.

I conclude my composition with a complete ghostly statement of the theme of the second movement of Death and the Maiden. Here the harp plays the theme in closed
harmony as the strings perform ethereal artificial harmonics above it. The shattered poet is left alone to grieve in the empty room - empty save for himself and the raven.

Premiere Information:
8 June 2009, Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto, Ontario
Tom Allen, narrator; Lori Gemmell, harp; Penderecki Quartet

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 8506 L888rav
  • Genre:
  • Mixed Chamber Ensembles (1 to 9 Performers), Quintets, , Plectral String(s) / Bowed String(s)
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • July 10, 2015
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (36 p.);
    36 Pages
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
    Parts page count: 38
    5 parts ([38] p.);
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
  • Language Information
  • Main language: English
  • Additional Information:
  • Commissioned by: Luminato Festival of the Arts and Ottawa Chamber Music Festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth,
Request a Repertoire Consultation
Suggest Modification for this Record

Available For:

  • Loan
  • Purchase
Available Products for this piece:

TitleDetailsPriceAdd this Product
The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet: Score
Score
(downloadable PDF)
$20.99
The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet: Score and Parts
Score and Parts
(downloadable PDF)
$42.99
The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet by Alexina Louie (Score)
Printed on demand
$27.99
The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet by Alexina Louie (Score and Parts)
Printed on demand
$56.99
The Raven for narrator, harp and string quartet
Library Loan
--
Copies of this work are available for loan from: Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, Vancouver