1988 | 6 mins
Poem by Robert Penn Warren
Music by Dave Brubeck
SATB voices divisi and optional piano
by Dave Brubeck
“Truth,” my choral setting of a poem by Robert Penn Warren, the first poet laureate of the United States, was premiered by the Gregg Smith Singer, Queens College Choir and a brass ensemble at the Shubert Theatre in New York in 988. It was part of a benefit concert for Vietnam veterans organized by the Vietnam Veterans Ensemble Theatre Company under the auspices of Joseph Papp. When I was approached by the Theatre Company to write a new piece for the program, I read many of the famous war poems from the First and Second World Wars searching for an appropriate text. I had met Robert Penn Warren through a mutual friend, John Coleman, and had spent some wonderful evenings with both in John’s home in Connecticut. At Christmas John gave me an anthology of Warren’s poems. I had no idea that I would find what I was looking for when I opened the book. The poem that struck me was no about war, but about truth. When I read those opening lines “Truth is what you cannot tell. Truth is for the grave.” I immediately thought of my own experience in war and how every soldier takes the truth with him to his grave. Warren understood this “truth” as applied to life. It was an inspiring text.
© Dave Brubeck Music
Premiere: February 7, 1988 in New York City, by the Gregg Smith Singers, Russell Gloyd conducting.
Commissioned by the Vietnam Veteran’s Ensemble.
Sample Sheet Music