haiku for orchestra (2003)

Leonard Slatkin

Leonard Slatkin

  • Premiere: 18 September 2003  / The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.  / The National Symphony Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin
  • Instrumentation: Picc.3.2.EH.2.BCl.2.dbn- 
  • "Commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra, for Leonard Slatkin"
  • Duration: 4'
  • All orders are digital downloads. For paper music visit our distributor partner Theodore Front.

Program note

When asked to provide a four-minute encore to conclude a program that would include Ottorino Respighi's Roman Festivals, I reached back to memories of an Italian autumn in 1992 spent at the Rockefeller Foundation's Villa Serbelloni, in Bellagio. I tried to evoke the astonishing sound of the wind coming down off of the Alps and through the trees in my piece. The effect is described by the word 'susurrus': the act of whispering; a whisper; a rustling; a low, indistinct, and often continuous sound: mumble, murmer, sigh and sough. As I was writing the piece, I came upon this apt quotation from Longfellow, which serves as an epigraph in the score: 'The chant of their vespers, mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches.' -- Longfellow

— Daron Hagen, 2003


The world premiere of a specially commission 'encore' piece by the prodigiously gifted American composer Daron Hagen followed [Respighi's Feste romane] immediately. Titled 'Susurrus,' this deliciously orchestrated four-minute composition was noteworthy for its ethereal delicacy. Imagine the gentlest of ticklings, administered by a feather that is more often anticipated than actually felt.

— Tim Page, The Washington Post, 8/19/03