The music of Frederic Sharaf is published exclusively by Carl Fischer, Inc. Works marked (*) are currently in print. Please contact the composer directly regarding other works.
Three Settings from Imitations by Robert Lowell* (1970) for mezzo-soprano and piano — purchase
The Anniversary* (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano — purchase
John Donne may be most widely recognized today as the author who furnished Ernest Hemingway with the title for a novel: “...and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” The line occurs in a religious “Meditation” Donne wrote in 1623 when he was an Anglican Priest and Dean of St. Paul’s cathedral in London.
Many years before he became a priest, however, Donne (1572–1631) was well known in literary and fashionable circles in London as a brilliant and ambitious young man-about-town, the author of witty and strikingly new poetry on love and other subjects, a law student, a foreign
traveller, and a participant in military expeditions under the Earl of Essex. Donne had fine prospects for a career at court or as a diplomat when, in the late 1590s, he was appointed private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal.
Among those Donne met in the rarified social circle to which he now belonged was Anne More, a niece of Lady Egerton’s and daughter of the Lieutenant of the Tower of London. John and Anne fell in love and were secretly married in December of 1601. As the couple must have anticipated, since Donne’s family, though well-off, were not aristocratic and the young man had already run through the considerable fortune inherited from his father, Anne’s family were furious when they learned of the marriage. They even had Donne jailed for a brief period. Until 1609, Anne’s father refused to pay her dowry, and, in the interim, Donne’s fast-growing family got by on some legal work he did and, mainly, thanks to support from a cousin of Anne’s. In 1615, Donne was ordained as a priest.
Despite all the worldly difficulties at the time when it was written, “The Anniversary” leaves no room for doubt that the Donnes found great joy in one another. The poem celebrates the completion of their first year of marriage and looks forward to many more. Acknowledging the fact that someday death must part them as a couple, it anticipates an ultimate reunion in heaven. The music describes their love as a celebration for the status of kings, a counterpoint blessing to be designed in heaven. This composition has used long-phrased rhapsodic vocal lines, punctuated with occasional dissonance to emphasize poetic meaning.
This piece is dedicated to Joan L. Muellner. — F.S.
A Chorale (2015) for voice, piano, and cello — text by James Agee
“A Chorale” first appeared in Permit Me Voyage, published in late 1934, when Agee was not yet 25, as a volume in the Yale Younger Poets Series. This was the only book of his poetry published during Agee’s lifetime, although he continued to write poems until his death at 45 — many of them printed in anthologies or magazines, and most of them included in The Collected Poems of James Agee, edited and with an introduction by Agee's friend and fellow poet Robert Fitzgerald.* As Fitzgerald explains, very soon after 1934, Agee shifted the focus of his writing to prose works which included Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and A Death in the Family.
In his introduction, Fitzgerald notes that the poems in Permit Me Voyage were written during a span of six years and that, by the time he wrote “A Chorale” and the other poems written in the last year of that period, 1934, Agee “had gained an easy command of the classical tradition in English verse, of the learned Elizabethan and Jacobean poets...whose resources of rhetoric and metric he made...his own.” And, indeed, “A Chorale” does bring to mind the religious poetry of John Donne and George Herbert, two poets of the first half of the 17th century.
Since, by definition, a chorale is a hymn sung either by a choir or the congregation in church, it is fitting that Frederic Sharaf has at last provided the poem with the musical setting which is its due. — Joan L. Muellner
* Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1962 or 1968
Guernica* (2016) for voice, piano, and cello or guitar — purchase
Episode* (1970) for piano solo — now available in a reprint by Carl Fischer Music! purchase
String Quartet no. 2* — purchase (study score)
Collaboration* (2014) for piano solo — purchase (custom print)
Deux Petits Morceaux* (2014) for piano solo — purchase (custom print)
Fantaisie Chromatique* (2014) for piano solo — purchase (custom print)
String Quartet no. 4 "Mattinata Memoire"* (2014, rev. 2015) — purchase
Recueillement-Esperanza Tango (2014) for cello, piano, and percussion (snare drum or claves)
Forgotten Sounds (2012) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Waitin' Low (2012) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Senseless Time (2013) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Coming Back to You (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Whatcha Gonna Do Tomorrow? (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Grace the Line with Truth and Beauty (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Turn Your Eyes Away from Me (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Café Formidable (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Never Knew the Reason Why (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano
Give Me Time to Pray for Peace* (2014) for mezzo-soprano and piano — purchase
Inspired as a memorial to those who tragically lost their lives, their loved ones, and those who were injured at the Boston Marathon in April 2013, this piece honors the best qualities of humankind and expresses hope for a better future. It is amply described in the Confiteor of the Requiem Mass, “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine” [Grant them eternal rest O Lord] and “Ideo precor te, ora pro me” [Therefore, I beseech you, pray for me].
A young woman, as she prepares to die, asks God for time to pray, not only for those good souls who offered their supplications for her recovery, and for the other victims of this brutal and senseless crime, but also for mercy for the perpetrators, that anger and revenge should not add to the Earth's burden of suffering and sorrow. This is a tribute to her courage and compassion and a fervent plea for peace in a troubled world. — F.S.
Give Me Time to Pray for Peace — SATB a cappella choral version* (2016) also available!