I Never Saw Another Butterfly

Year of Premiere: 
Lori Laitman

I Never Saw Another Butterfly (1995-96), in a new arrangement for soprano and clarinet, had its world premiere at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on November 7, 2005, at Music of Remembrance's Kristallnacht concert.

Laitman offers the following remarks:

"The Butterfly" opens the cycle with a cantorial-style part, conjuring up images of a fluttering butterfly. The vocal line enters with speech-based rhythms that are melodic and lyric. The long clarinet interlude symbolizes the freedom of the butterfly. The poem was written by Pavel Friedmann, who was born on January 7, 1921, deported to Terezín on April 26, 1942, and died in Auschwitz on September 29, 1944. Despite the tremendous sadness of the text, the message of the poem is one of undying spirit. "Yes, That's the Way Things Are" was written by three children--Kosek, Löwy, and Bachner who wrote under the name "Koleba". Reflecting the irony of the poem, the music has a quasi-folk song feel--a dancing, shifting rhythm, and a modal melody switching between a minor and major seventh, typical of Jewish folk song. Miroslav Kosek was born on March 30, 1932 at Horelice in Bohemia and was sent to Terezín on February 15, 1942. He died October 19, 1944 at Auschwitz. Hanus Löwy was born in Ostrava on June 29, 1931, deported to Terezín on September 30, 1942, and died in Auschwitz on October 4, 1944. There is no information on Bachner. The author of "Birdsong" is unknown. In this poem, the author is able to rise above the living conditions to focus on the loveliness of life. Ascending phrases are used to portray hope. "The Garden" was written by Franta Bass, who was born in Brno on September 4, 1930. He was sent to Terezín on December 2, 1941, and died in Auschwitz on October 28, 1944. The little boy walking along the garden path is portrayed by a weaving clarinet part with subtle rhythmic changes. "Man Proposes, God Disposes" was also written by the three children who signed their name "Koleba." This text is a commentary on what used to be, and what is. Like a cabaret song, the vocal line uses a simple melody, and ends each section with a glissando. "The Old House," also written by Franta Bass, ends the cycle. The barren image of the deserted house is captured by the clarinet repeatedly playing one note, like a bell tolling. The voice and clarinet become more expressive as the poet recalls happier days, but then return to the opening texture.