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Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, November 22

Warren Benson's "The Leaves Are Falling"

Synopsis

If you’re a baby boomer, you probably remember exactly where you were and what you were doing on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

On that day, American composer Warren Benson was just beginning to work on a commission he had received for a new work for wind band. Maybe the trauma of that day unleashed some creative power in Benson, but whatever the reason, the resulting music is both intense and moving. He titled his piece “The Leaves Are Falling,” a line from Rainer Maria Rilke's "Autumn," a poem that evokes a sense of a passing season and a passing life. “The Leaves Are Falling” became Benson’s best-known work, and a landmark score in the wind band repertory.

Born in 1924, Benson grew up in Detroit, studied at the University of Michigan, and landed a job playing timpani in the Detroit Symphony. He served as a professor of percussion and composition at Ithaca College, and from 1967 until 1993, he taught composition at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York.

Music Played in Today's Program

Warren Benson The Leaves Are Falling Eastman Wind Ensemble; Donald Hunsberger, cond. Centaur 2014

Additional Information

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