I Saw Without Eyes (1994) · 3 min

for baritone and piano

baritone (voice), piano

Composed in partial fulfillment for the University of California, Berkeley qualifying exam

Program Note

I Saw Without Eyes was assigned as part of my qualifying exams by composer John Thow, while working towards my Ph.D.at the University of California, Berkeley. As I had mostly composed instrumental music to that point, Professor Thow wanted to see what I could accomplish with a work for piano and voice (he would also assign me Aaron Copland’s Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson for my oral exam).

If I recall correctly, we had one week to complete this composition assignment. I decided to set a poem of my father, Paul Anthony De Ritis:

I saw without eyes

that music speaks

a thousand scenes in

a thousand notes tormenting…


With good ear I heard

tympanies boom hope,

cymbals crash doom,

Yes, I heard

war and I heard peace.


Mothers I saw and babies

faceless images meaning

will-o-the wisps whispering

in the wind.


Let us whisper a great breath

that shouts out,

“Give us perpetual life!”

.. or we die …

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