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No. 10: Supreme Virtue [Autograph manuscript]

No. 10: Supreme Virtue [Autograph manuscript]

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No. 10: Supreme Virtue [Autograph manuscript]

by ADAMO, Mark b. 1962

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  • Signed
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About This Item

Oblong quarto (278 x 208 mm). Unbound, folded. 29 pp. + 2 pp. of additional manuscript apparently not included in the final version. Notated in pencil on 16-stave paper.

Signed and dated New York, Jan-April 1997. Supreme Virtue was commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers with the support of the Jerome Foundation and the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. The Dale Warland Singers premiered the work in Minneapolis in June 2000. The text consists of an English translation by Stephen Mitchell of verses from the "Tao te Ching." It was first recorded by the Seattle-based chamber choir Esoterics on the Terpsichore label in the winter of 2008.

"For a few years I was the tenor section leader of a choir in Washington, and in singing with and composing for them I'd become more and more interested in the quasi-instrumental vocal gesture. Stephen Mitchell's pellucid translation of this verse of the Tao te ching - a series of moral challenges all beginning with the words "Can you?" - spurred me to explore this idea at length. The singers, divided into two SATB choirs, intone the first question in a dusky C-minor against a sighing backdrop of wind sounds: then, as the first choir utters the text's first challenge, the second choir refracts their words into marimba-like repeated notes, as if the long lines of the first choir were subjected to a kind of aural strobe. As the questions become tougher, so do the sounds: tenors and altos stab into the texture with horn-like interruptions, and the phrase "Can you?" disrupts the unwavering four-four pulse with insistent threes and twos. At a peak of intensity, a looping soprano-alto line spirits us away from pulse and chord, leading first to a melodic meditation based on the vowels of "Can you?" and then to a cadenza, in which chords appear and vanish into a shimmering, ever-present curtain of sound. A vision of equanimity is intoned in the open fifths of (both Western and Eastern) chant: then, as if elated by its discovery ("this is the supreme virtue") the chorus reworks its "Can you?" motive: a nudging half-step expands to a whole step, the harmony brightens to B-flat, and, in rhythms now more jubilant than insistent, the score spins to closure." Mark Adamo website.


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J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC US (US)
Seller's Inventory #
No. 10: Supreme Virtue [Autograph manuscript]
ADAMO, Mark b. 1962
Book Condition
Quantity Available
chorus, SATB, choir, Chinese texts, secular, autograph musical manuscript
Sheet Music

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J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC

All items may be returned within 7 days of receipt, packed, shipped and insured as received.

About the Seller

J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2008
Syosset, New York

About J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC

Established in 1977, our firm is recognized as one of the leading international dealers in musical autographs and manuscripts; rare printed music; rare books, prints, drawings and ephemera relating to music and dance dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries.We were honored to be interviewed by Final Note Magazine. To read the article please go to the following URL:


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects, "new"...
A book or pamphlet which does not have a covering binding, sometimes by original design, sometimes used to describe a book in...
The term quarto is used to describe a page or book size. A printed sheet is made with four pages of text on each side, and the...

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