Daniel Pinkham (1923–2006)
Among the most prolific of 20th-century American composers
Daniel Pinkham | Wedding Cantata
Biographical notes and texts
Daniel Pinkham wrote Wedding Cantata in 1956 for the marriage of his friends Lotje and Arthur Loeb.
The texts from the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) are great favorites at weddings and anniversaries. Pinkham invested them with a variety of musical contrasts and moods — sudden, serene, racing, slow, eager, contemplative, longing, intense — all in a 10-minute composition. Love is a strong, complicated, infinitely varied theme.
Pinkham was one of the most prolific 20th-century American composers, writing in a variety of styles and forms — symphonies, concerti, choral works (SATB, men, women, children), guitar, harp, harpsichord and clavichord, organ (solo, duet, with ensemble), works for the stage, solo voice, piano, film scores, and electronic music. His scholarly work, particularly his interest in early music performance, led him to explore a variety of styles from Gregorian chant to 12-tone composition.
A lifelong New Englander, Pinkham was born in Lynn, Mass., and attended Phillips Academy in Andover, where he studied organ and harmony. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Harvard, studying with Walter Piston, Aaron Copland and others. He studied composition with Arthur Honegger, Samuel Barber, and Nadia Boulanger, harpsichord with Wanda Landowska, and organ with E. Power Biggs.
In Boston, Pinkham was music director at King’s Chapel from 1958 until 2000 and was a musicology professor at the New England Conservatory of Music from 1959 until his death in December 2006. His work as scholar, composer, and performer brought him many honors including six honorary degrees, Fulbright and Ford fellowships, and election to fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1990 the American Guild of Organists named him composer of the year, and in 1996 he received the Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to the choral arts.
I. Rise Up, My Love
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For lo! The winter is past and the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in the land.
Whither is my beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?
Whither is thy beloved turned aside? That we may seek him with thee.
My beloved is gone down into his garden to the beds of spices,
To feed in the gardens and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved’s and he is mine; my beloved is mine.
II. Many Waters
Many waters cannot quench love.
III. Awake, O North Wind
Awake O north wind, and come thou south.
Blow upon my garden that the spices may flow out.
Let my beloved come into his garden and eat his pleasant fruits.
IV. Epilogue: Set Me as a Seal
Set me as a seal upon thine heart,
As a seal upon thine arm.
For love is strong.