Robert Ceely

"To me music is organized sound in time. Whether my music is instrumental, vocal, electronic or a combination, the impetus is the idea; the medium chosen is a result of the idea." - Robert Ceely, born in 1930, is a composer and an educator. His compositions include solo, chamber, and orchestral music as well as music for tape and tape with instruments. He attended the New England Conservatory where he studied with Francis Cooke and completed further studies with Darius Milhaud and Leon Kirchner at Mills College, with Roger Sessions, and with Edward Cone and Milton Babbitt at Princeton University.

From 1963-64, he composed music in the Electronic Music Studio in Milan as a guest of The Italian Government. His ballet “Beyond the Ghost Spectrum”, commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation with choreography by James Waring, was performed at Tanglewood with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting and the opera, “Automobile Graveyard”, after a play by Fernando Arrabal, was presented at the New England Conservatory in 1995. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ditson Fund, the Manon Jarrof dancers, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Fromm Music Foundation and others. He has taught at the Naval School of Music, The Lawrenceville School, Robert College in Istanbul, and for thirty-eight years at the New England Conservatory where he established and directed the Electronic Music Studio and taught composition. In 1995, he was honored with an Outstanding Alumni Award. He retired from teaching in 2003 and presently devotes his time and energy to composition.

Two Pieces for String Quartet are receiving their world premiere. Each is separate, and self contained; they are not related to each other nor will they be a part of any future quartet.

The Five Contemplative Pieces for chorus is receiving its first New York performance. The poems express the meanings and character of each song as well as the mood of the composer while writing them.


1. On Solitude by Alexander Pope

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breath his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade.
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcern’dly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix’d; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

2. Eternity by William Blake

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

3. My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold by Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So it is now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Mam;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

4. Fall, Leaves, Fall by Emily Bronte

Fall leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree,
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

5. Age by Walter Savage Lander

Death, tho I see him not, is near
And grudges me my eightieth year.
Now I would give him all these last
For one that fifty have run past.
Ah! He strikes all things, all alike,
But bargains: those he will not strike

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