Eletelephony - (2009)     

 Laura Elizabeth Richards
for medium voice and piano


Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)
Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 25" ]

Laura Elizabeth Richards


Laura Elizabeth Richards (1850-1943), a Pulitzer Prize winning American author and biographer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her father S. G. Howe was a teacher, physician and abolitionist who co-founded the Perkins Institute for the Blind, most noted for its work with students Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller. Her mother was the poet Julia Ward Howe who is best known as the author of Battle Hymn of the Republic. Richards was renown for her children's books and nonsense verse, such that in her heyday she was often called the "Queen of Nonsense Verse."



The setting ranges broadly, a complaint which is so often leveled at the musical setting of her mother's beloved hymn. Like the text itself, the musical rhetoric of this is generally through composed with a reprise of the first gestures at the finale to this short song. It is meant for fun, a play with words and the human penchant for falling so easily over them, a prominent yet petty disorder among prominent and petty politicians from centuries ago as from this modern time in which we live.



The score for Eletelephony 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.