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About this Piece

John Corigliano is one of the most widely recognized American composers. He has received virtually all of the most important prizes - several Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize for his Second Symphony, a Grawemeyer, and an Academy Award for his score to Fran├žois Giraud's 1997 film The Red Violin- as well as honorary doctorates, awards, and accolades too numerous to list. Born into an auspicious musical family - his father, John Corigliano, Sr., was concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic during the Bernstein years - Corigliano (Jr.) first came to prominence in 1964 when, at the age of 26, he witnessed the premiere of his Sonata for Violin and Piano at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Italy. Coriligliano's 1991 opera The Ghosts of Versailles was the Metropolitan Opera's first commission in three decades. Corigliano holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York, and serves on the faculty at the Juilliard School of Music.

John Corigliano writes, "L'Invitation au voyage, an a cappella choral work composed in 1971, is a setting of Richard Wilbur's translation of Baudelaire's work by the same name. Wilbur's poignant setting pictures a world of obsessive imagination - a drugged vision of heaven full of sensual imagery. The music echoes the quality of the repeated refrain found in this lush translation: 'There, there is nothing else but grace and measure, richness, quietness and pleasure.'"

Here is the complete text:

My child, my sister, dream

how sweet all things would seem

Were we in that kind land to live together,

And there love slow and long,

there love and die among

Those scenes that image you,

that sumptuous weather.

Drowned suns that glimmer there

Through cloud disheveled air

Move with such a mystery as appears

With in those other skies

your treacherous eyes

When I behold them shining through their tears.

There, there is nothing else

but grace and measure,

richness, quietness, and pleasure.

Furniture that wears the luster of the years,

Softly would glow within our glowing chamber,

Flowers of rarest bloom

Proffering their perfume

would glow within our glowing chamber,

Mixed with the vague fragrances of amber;

Gold ceilings would there be,

Mirrors deep as the sea,

The walls all in Eastern splendor hung,

Nothing but should address

The soul's loneliness,

Speaking her sweet and secret native tongue.

There, there is nothing else

but grace and measure,

richness, quietness, and pleasure.

See, sheltered from the swells

There in the still canals

Those drowsy ships that dream of sailing forth;

It is to satisfy

Your least desire,

They ply

Hither through all the waters of the earth.

The sun at close of day,

Clothes the fields of hay,

Then the canals,

At last the town entire

In hyacinth and gold:

Slowly the land is rolled

Sleepward under a sea of gentle fire.

There, there is nothing else

but grace and measure,

richness, quietness, and pleasure.