Spirits in the Well

Song Collection

Spirits in the Well is a song cycle of four songs by Richard Danielpour setting the poetry of Toni Morrison. The song cycle is for soprano and piano.

Composer: Richard DanielpourText: Toni Morrison

Print vitals & song text


Spirits in the Well was composed at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs in the last week of November, 1997. The text to the four songs by Toni Morrison were sent by Ms. Morrison following my desire to compose a second song cycle for Jessye Norman. Sweet Talk, which was composed in 1996, had its premiere at Carnegie Hall, New York in April 1997. What emerged was a darker, less florid and perhaps more intimate piece than Sweet Talk. I was also interested in writing a work for voice and piano alone, as none of my dozen or so works involving voice had been set for that very standard combination.

So, why did this piece need to be written? Simply because of my deep identification with Ms. Morrison’ s lyrics, and my profound appreciation for the way Ms. Norman approaches and sings my music.

A final note: the commission was made possible by Lincoln Center with generous support from the A. B. and Flavia McEachern Foundation. In particular I want to thank Marsha Morrison, her son, Gavin, and Jane Moss at Lincoln Center for helping to bring this work into being.”


–Richard Danielpour, New York, March 1998, from the G. Schirmer Website

Sheet Music

Spirits in the Well

Composer(s): Richard Danielpour

Voice Type: Soprano

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