program notes by composition > N > Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Steven Bryant

Nothing Gold Can Stay is the title of a poem written in 1923 by Robert Frost that earned the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

This music is a a chorale – simple, beautiful and familiar. The deceptive simplicity of the poem describes the paradoxical descending of dawn to day, all embodying the concept of felix culpa, or "lucky fall" – the idea that loss can bring greater good, and is in fact necessary.

Steven Bryant (b.1972) is an active American composer and conductor with a varied catalog, including works for orchestra, wind ensemble, electronics, and chamber music. He states: "I strive to write music that leaps off the stage (or reaches out of the speakers) to grab you by the collar and pull you in. Whether through a relentless eruption of energy, or the intensity of quiet contemplation, I want my music to give you no choice, and no other desire, but to listen."

Mr. Bryant also writes that as a teen he trained for one summer as a break-dancer (i.e. forced into lessons by his mother), was the 1987 1/10 scale radio-controlled car racing Arkansas state champion, has a Bacon Number of 1, and has played saxophone with Branford Marsalis on “Sleigh Ride.” He studied composition at The Juilliard School, at the University of North Texas, and with Francis McBeth at Ouachita University, He resides in Durham, NC.

Last updated on March 13, 2018 by Palatine Concert Band