RTC-33: 1966 Suite: In Homage to Melville

for soprano, contralto, viola and piano

Text: Herman Melville

  1. The Aeolian Harp (Fantasy I) – viola + piano
  2. The Enviable Isles – soprano, contralto, viola, piano
  3. Monody – viola solo
  4. The American Aloe on Exhibition – soprano, contralto, viola, piano
  5. A Canticle (Fantasy II) – viola + piano

Length: 15 min.
Completion: 6 May 1966, Vancouver
Premiere: 1966, Phyllis Thompson (soprano), Donna Brimmer (contralto), Philip Ettor (viola),
Diana McIntosh (piano), Winnipeg Art Gallery
Publication: CMC
Recording: an archival CBC recording is available

Sara Scott Turner writes that:

In Homage to Melville was written in Vancouver in the spring of 1966 and dedicated to our dear friend, violinist Harry Adaskin. At that time, in his old age, he imagined that he could play the viola better than the violin, which is why the work is scored for viola. In fact, he did not play this work, nor anything else after that. Robert finished the work just prior to our leaving for 18 months in Italy, presenting it as we said good-bye.”

CBC Winnipeg Centennial Festival, 13 May 1974