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Harbach, Barbara


  • Text: Emily Dickinson
  • Language: English
  • Ensemble: Soprano, Trumpet and Piano
  • Genre: Modern Classical
  • Grade: 4
  • Duration: 10.0 minutes
  • Catalog Number: AOS289

Emily! for Soprano, Trumpet and Piano (2007) is in three movements, based on the poetry of the great American poet, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).  The first movement, I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed, portrays a mystical state of experiencing the soul’s awareness, an awareness that is so overwhelmingly uplifting that she feels as if she had become intoxicated by drinking alcohol.  The second movement, If You Were Coming in the Fall, is about love, time and separation, and addressed to someone who is away. The third movement, based on two poems Wild Nights! Wild Nights! and For Each Ecstatic Instant. Wild Nights! Wild Nights! is a poem of unrestrained passion and rapture.  For Each Ecstatic Instant describes a relationship of joy and pain, and joy is inevitably paid for by suffering – joy is brief but the resulting pain lasts. The soprano, trumpet and piano intermingle and weave the melodies, each an integral part of the whole, forming a true trio.

PDF Download includes trumpet part in C, Bb, Eb and D.  Only C trumpet part provided with Ship to me option.

Review by Brian Walker published in the International Trumpet Guild Journal Volume 37, No. 4, Page, 83

The collaboration between trumpet and voice has been popular throughout the trumpet’s history, and Harbach’s new work fits well into this genre. Emily! is a composition written for John Holt, professor of trumpet and chair of the instrumental division at the University of North Texas.  He recorded the composition on his album Facets 3 with Sophia Grech, soprano. Composer Barbara Harbach, professor of music at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, provides a great setting for the poetry of Emily Dickinson in a composition featuring three contrasting movements. The total duration of this work is just under ten minutes.

The first movement, “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed,” is a lyrical, playful interplay between all three voices in canonic fashion. The second movement, “If You Were Coming in the Fall,” is more reflective and features some of the more difficult musical requirements for the trumpet and voice. The last movement combines two poems, “Wild Nights! Wild Nights!” and “For Each Ecstatic Instant.” This final movement is quick, exciting, and features the trumpet more than the previous two movements.

There are a few technical challenges required of the trumpeter, the most important of which is finesse in the upper register. Many of the lyrical lines lie within the upper mid-range (from c" to b" for C trumpet) and require a softer dynamic to blend well with the vocalist. The composer has provided parts in B-flat, C, D, and E-flat to help with these ensemble issues and this reviewer finds that each horn/part has its advantages and disadvantages when performing this composition.

The complete range of the trumpet part is from sounding c to c’’’.   This piece is best suited for mature musicians or advanced students who can overcome these challenges both physically and musically. The layout of each part is excellent and page turns are placed logically in the music. It is obvious that attention was given to each trumpet part as proper accidentals and key changes are found in all parts.

Emily! can be found on the Internet on a web site ( that this reviewer found to be very well designed. A recording and sample score is available with the ScoreFlipper feature that links both together for review—a very useful tool for those interested in compositions on this site. Brava to Barbara Harbach for her wonderful composition that will surely find praise among those who have the pleasure to hear and/or perform this music. 


I. I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

II. If You Were Coming in the Fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemens land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

III. Wild Nights! Wild Nights! / For Each Ecstatic Instant
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.

Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!

We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ration
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years—
Bitter contested farthings—
And Coffers heaped with Tears!

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