The Music of Elizabeth Alexander

Impermanent Things

A rhapsodic meditation on life’s beauty and transience

Music: Elizabeth Alexander

This lyrical work gradually unfolds from a simple opening idea into an expressive rhapsody. Its rich chords and elegant structure create a poignant and poetic elegy, a paean to all things treasured and fleeting.

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Composer Notes

Composer Notes

For centuries people have sought to appreciate the transience of life. It is expressed in Japan’s revered cherry blossom season and in Zen Buddhism’s meditation on the breath. While appreciation of nature and breath are at times parts of my own spiritual practice, I had something specific in mind when I wrote Impermanent Things: my son and viola player Oliver, who like all of us is infinitely resilient and ultimately fragile, on this earth for one beautiful fleeting experience of life.

Unfolding from a simple opening idea, this piece grows more and more expressive as it comes into its own. In fact, I was astonished at how unrepentantly rhapsodic the piece became, like shrubs that bloom so lavishly in summer that one can’t see the flowers for the bees. This kind of indulgence is not necessarily what my music is known for(!), and yet here it is, one more way for art to help us make sense of this treasured, impermanent thing called life.



Viola and piano
Premiere: Evan Vicic and Elizabeth Alexander (St. Paul, MN)
Evan Vicic and Sharon Vicic (St. Paul, MN)

Cello and piano
Premiere: Lynn Angebranndt and Susan Svrcek (Redlands, CA)
Lynn Angebranndt and Brian Gant (Annapolis, MD)