As It Fell Upon a Day
soprano, flute, and clarinet
Year Composed
sop, fl, cl
ARCO Number(s)
Vocal Chamber
  • World: Salle Pleyel, Paris, February 6th, 1924 (Ada MacLeish, J. Boulze, René Verney)
Related Persons
Boosey & Hawkes
Publishing Status
Buying Options
Boosey & Hawkes
Jump To

  • When Copland was studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris in the early twenties, one of his assignments was to compose a piece for flute and clarinet. He came upon a poem by the 17th century English poet Richard Barnfield and decided to add a voice part to the Boulanger assignment. Copland explained: "The poem had the simplicity and tenderness that moved me to attempt to evoke that poignant expression musically." As It Fell. . . had its premiere in Paris in 1924.

    Vivian Perlis
  • The Nightingale

    As it fell upon a day
    In the merry month of May,
    Sitting in a pleasant shade
    Which a grove of myrtles made,
    Beasts did leap and birds did sing,
    Trees did grow and plants did spring;
    Everything did banish moan
    Save the Nightingale alone:
    She, poor bird as all forlorn
    Leaned her breast up-till a thorn,
    And there sung the dolefull’st ditty,
    That to hear it was great pity.
    Fie, fie, fie! now would she cry;
    Tereu, Tereu! by and by;
    That to hear her so complain
    Scarce I could from tears refrain;
    For her griefs so lively shown
    Made me think upon mine own.
    Ah! thought I, thou mourn’st in vain,
    None takes pity on thy pain:
    Senseless trees they cannot hear thee,
    Ruthless beasts they will not cheer thee:
    King Pandion he is dead,
    All thy friends are lapp’d in lead;
    All thy fellow birds do sing
    Careless of thy sorrowing:
    Even so, poor bird, like thee,
    None alive will pity me.

    Richard Barnfield (17th c.)