Soloist(s) and orchestra
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2-8 players
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Chorus and orchestra
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The Ghosts of Versailles: arias and excerpts (voice(s) and piano)
Three Cabaret Songs (voice(s) and piano)
End of the Line
Film scores

Fern Hill (1960)
version for mezzo soprano, harp, chorus, and strings

see also: 1965 version with full orchestra, 1999 version with chamber orchestra, and A Dylan Thomas Trilogy


First performed on Dec. 19, 1961, Chorus and Orchestra of the Manhattan School of Music under Hugh Ross. Premiere, December 19, 1961, Carnegie Recital Hall, NY


Listen to a sound clip

rent score and parts from G. Schirmer Inc 

order vocal score from www.musicdispatch.com 


Scored for mezzo soprano, SATB chorus, harp, piano, and strings

Duration  16 minutes



Milago Vargas, mezzo soprano, with the Oregon Repertory Singers, Gilbert Seeley, conductor Koch 3-7253-2 H1 (1998)


I first encountered Dylan Thomas’ work in 1959, my last undergraduate year at Columbia College. It was a revelation. Both the sound and structures of Thomas’s words were astonishingly musical. Not by accident, either: “What the words meant was of secondary importance; what matters was the sound of them...these words were as the notes of bells, the sounds of musical instruments," he wrote in his Poetic Manifesto of 1951. I was irresistibly drawn to translate his music into mine.

One poem captivated me: Fern Hill, about the poet’s “young and easy" summers at his family’s farm of the same name. I wanted to write this work as a gift for my high-school music teacher, Mrs. Bella Tillis, who first encouraged my musical ambitions. She introduced Fern Hill with piano accompanying her (and, once, my) school choir.

Fern Hill is a blithe poem, yet touched by darkness; time finally holds the poet “green and dying," but the poem itself, formally just an ABA song extended into a wide arch, sings joyously of youth and its keen perceptions. I set it for mezzo-soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra, aiming to match the forthright lyricism of the text. (The direction “with simplicity" is everywhere in the printed score.)

                     — John Corigliano

© 2021 John Corigliano | Designed by Wlad Marhulets | Artwork photos by Richard Howe