An original music score by Wasyl Sydorenko, with words by Thomas Hardy
Souvenirs & Mementos - A Snippet by Wasyl Sydorenko
'This time the mementos are not mine, but those of the poet, Thomas Hardy. I never tasted Dorset or Schweppes "cyder", never visited Weymouth, never danced with ladies in London, and in the spring of 1978 the true meaning of love was still unknown to me. "Great Things" was the first 20th-century poem featured in "Shorter Poems" (1932), a volume published by The T. Eaton Co. of Toronto, edited by Prof. W.J. Alexander. Its "new age" exuberance paralleled what I felt as I was about to complete high school at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto).
Sadly, that exuberance soon disappeared when I began my studies at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music. Thus, "Great Things", the last of my youthful compositions, remained unfinished. Anything written between 1978 and 1985 was merely an assignment, a classroom exercise, or failed attempt to conform to the modernist idiom.
"Great Things" (1917) is a paraphrase of "wine, women, and song". Hardy wrote of "cider, dance, and love". The poem is both hedonistic and nostalgic, recalling the poet's bicycle trips from Max Gate in Dorchester to Weymouth, with stops for cider at The Old Ship Inn, a 17th-century pub in Upwey. Hardy also featured it in one of his novels.
In my mind, "Great Things" is imbued with the spirit of the ragtime era. I had heard the soundtrack of "The Sting" in high school, but did not fully comprehend the genre until much later. Since then, I have written "Eugenia Rag" (1988) and "Catalpa Blossoms" (2007). Now, I add this "ragtime" song to my list of completed works. With "Great Things", I close a great chapter in my life, and open another...
I have decided to dedicate this song to a wonderful neighbour, Dorothy Jackson. She endorsed my plan to revisit my early works and rescue them from oblivion and took great delight when I received a thank-you note from Queen Elizabeth II for my "Red Carpet March". When the Queen became the longest reigning monarch in British history, on September 9, 2015, we drank a toast to Her Majesty - "God save the Queen! Long may she reign!". But, it wasn't cider that we drank, it was Bailey Irish Cream.' (Wasyl Sydorenko, 2019)
For free copies of Mr Sydorenko's score, or to listen to a computer rendition please visit his website:
Copyright © Wasyl Sydorenko