Program Note: Memory, Distance, and No Time for Dances was commissioned by Peter Leighton for his late wife, Marilynn Leighton. Marilynn died of cancer on February 21, 2001, almost 32 years to the day after they met. It was written for the Gryphon Trio.
In two movements, the piece is meant to be a celebration of Marilynn’s life and spirit. In writing the music, I referred heavily to the wonderful biographical notes that Mr. Leighton gave me. The first movement is one which addresses the fiery side of Marilynn’s personality: her drive, intensity, and passion for life. The movement is very fast and almost without rest. The image that was most powerful for me was Marilynn’s great desire to dance at her granddaughter’s wedding. The second movement is for the most part slow and lyrical although there are still moments of spark and fire. It is a dignified farewell.
There are two poems that helped to bring together all these images. The first is Of Memory and Distance by Russell Edson:
It’s a scientific fact that anyone entering the distance will grow smaller. Eventually becoming so small he might only be
found with a telescope, or, for more intimacy, with a
But there’s a vanishing a vanishing point, where anyone having penetrated the distance must disappear entirely without hope
of his ever returning, leaving only a memory of his ever having
But then there is fiction, so that one is never really sure if
it was someone who vanished into the end of seeing, or
someone made of paper and ink…
© 2005, Russell Edson.
The second is the opening stanzas of The Sunlight on the Garden by Louis Macneice:
The sunlight on the garden Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot be for pardon.
Our freedom as free lances Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it Sonnets and birds descend; And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.