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Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric Ewazen (b. 1954) is a composer and teacher at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he has been on the faculty since 1980.  He studied at Juilliard and the Eastman School of Music with Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, Joseph Schwantner, Gunther Schuller, and Warren Benson.  His works, which have won him many awards, have been performed and recorded by prestigious ensembles and artists all over the world.

Ewazen’s notes from the score of Hymn for the Lost and the Living:

On September 11, 2001, I was teaching my music theory class at the Juilliard School, when we were notified of the catastrophe that was occurring several miles south of us in Manhattan. Gathering around a radio in the school’s library, we heard the events unfold in shock and disbelief. Afterwards, walking up Broadway on the sun-filled day, the street was full of silent people, all quickly heading to their homes. During the next several days, our great city became a landscape of empty streets and impromptu, heartbreaking memorials mourning our lost citizens, friends and family. But then on Friday, a few days later, the city seemed to have been transformed. On this evening, walking up Broadway, I saw multitudes of people holding candles, singing songs, and gathering in front of those memorials, paying tribute to the lost, becoming a community of citizens of this city, of this country and of this world, leaning on each other for strength and support. A Hymn for the Lost and the Living portrays those painful days following September 11th, days of supreme sadness. It is intended to be a memorial for those lost souls, gone from this life, but who are forever treasured in our memories.

A Hymn for the Lost and the Living was commissioned by and is dedicated to the US Air Force Heritage of America Band, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, Major Larry H. Lang, Director.

Here is the original recording by the Air Force Band.  Note that Ewazen revised the piece after this recording, particularly after m. 115.

While it was originally written for band, Hymn for the Lost and the Living also exists in versions for orchestra, trumpet and piano, and trombone and piano, all arranged by Ewazen himself.  For a taste, here is the trumpet and piano version:

Eric Ewazen has a Wikipedia page and his own web site.  He is also featured in interviews with the Juilliard Journal and Bruce Duffie, and on the Luncheon Project.  There is a great entry on Hymn for the Lost and the Living on the Wind Repertory Project.

One Comment

  1. Hymn for the Lost and Living is easily one of the most moving contemporary pieces in wind band repertoire. As a native New Yorker, I find the opening of this piece is just as lost, disjointed, and confusing as many of us felt in the days and weeks after 9/11. The composition of the piece is wonderful, but I have always been more impressed with the orchestration of the work. The solo trumpet stands out in the recapitulation as a beacon of hope; a once mighty fire that has been beat back to just a tiny flame. But just as flames grow, so too does the trumpet solo, with the aid of the Debussy-esq piano accompaniment, ensuring that this flame will rise to triumph again.

    Ewazen does brilliant work combining element of Beethoven’s Nocturne’s and Debussy’s Clair De Lune in a touching new-age composition. He deserves every award he got for Hymn For the Lost and Living

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