Vaughan Williams - "Reconciliation" from Dona Nobis Pacem, for piano solo
Ralph Vaughan WIlliams - "Reconciliation" from his cantata Dona Nobis Pacem now available in a newly transcribed arrangement for piano solo; based on the opening thirty-six bars. The rights to this arrangement were generously granted by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Estate.
I worked with Ursula Vaughan Williams in the 1970's on the preparation of some music for her, and considered myself very fortunate to have had a direct link with her husband.
“…Among the poems by Walt Whitman (1819–1892) which RVW had set to music before the First World War was the Dirge for Two Veterans. This became the starting point for a new work in which he used two more poems both of which, Beat, beat drums, and Reconciliation, came from Whitman’s experiences during the American Civil War….all linked by a soprano voice whose repeated, imploring ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ gave the cantata its name...”
...from ‘A Biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ by Ursula Vaughan Williams, OUP 1964.
Walt Whitman (1819–1892), America’s most revered poet, spent much of the American Civil War as a volunteer in hospitals in Washington, D.C., nursing injured Union soldiers, helping them write letters to their wives and families, witnessing their agonies, and not infrequently watching them suffer and die. Like Lincoln, whom he loved, Whitman understood that once the war was over, national reconciliation would become the country’s foremost task. The "Word" Whitman refers to in the first line is, of course, "Reconciliation" -- the poem's title. He draws on natural imagery ("beautiful as the sky"), he plays at contradictions ("beautiful that war") to get at the healing power of Reconciliation. In the last three lines, he redefines "Reconciliation" in personal, human terms. Whitman places the poem in a specific time and place: a funeral. “Reconciliation” is now among the most loved of Whitman’s shorter poems.