Edmund's Speech - (2011)
for baritone and piano
for Jeff Kronen
This is the excellent foppery of the world,
that, when we are sick in fortune,
--often the surfeitof our own behavior, --
we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars;
as if we were villains by necessity;
fools by heavenly compulsion;
knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance;
drunkards, liars, and adulterers,
by an enforced obedience of planetary influence;
and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on:
an admirable evasion of whoremaster man,
to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!
[ 3 pages, circa 2' 20" ]
The text comes from King Lear, Act 1, Scene II, as Gloucester exits having mentioned "these late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us," with the notion of other forces which impose their will on man's actions. In response and before the entrance of Edgar, Edmund gives this monologue and -- I opine -- truth of human nature's wish to all too frequently "blame someone else."
The rhythmic pulse through the setting seems almost martial, as the interior chromatic lines strive against the repetitive pedals, beginning in the tonic minor, and thereafter as a bridge move into distant tonal domains before returning to the dissonant tonic minor.
The score for Edmund's Speech is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.