May These Letters Guide You Home

May These Letters
Guide You Home
Jeremy Bell

May These Letters Guide Home is a programmatic work about letters exchanged between a soldier and his love back home.  The inspiration for this piece originally came from a choral piece that I wanted to write about love letters between a soldier and his love back home. So there are two different "styles" representing the two characters, a militaristic march for the solider that uses a motive from Schumann's The Two Grenadiers, and a more lyrical, but somber section for his love.  Small leitmotifs are used to represent the two characters that get mixed into one another's sections as they write to each other.

The "story" within the piece begins with a simple exchange of letters, when a sudden key at measure 62 occurs, after she receives a letter informing her that her love was injured in combat, but will be returning home as a result.  At measure 72, there's an element of hope to the music as she dreams about the day he finally returns home.  At measure 88, however, a majority of the ensemble drops out as the marching motif enters.  A soldier is walking to her front door to notify her that as her love was coming home, he was killed.  The piece ends with the marching motif as the solider is walking away while her theme is played once more over a minor chord.

The ending for May These Letters Guide You Home comes from the heart-wrenching, season 3 finale of the TV show M.A.S.H. when the character Radar enters the operating room to inform everyone that Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's plane was shot down over the sea of Japan on his way home from the Korean War.  Larry Gelbart, who directed the episode, talks about it in this video.  M.A.S.H (which stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) was a comedy show that took a dark subject like war and incorporated buffoonery and practical jokes to make light of a terrible situation, and it showed how people dealing with hardships sometimes result to humor, even if that humor is dark, to overcome these difficulties.  For this piece, I wanted something similar; I didn't want a piece that would end happily.  I wanted to create a piece that creates a visceral, emotional response to the idea it represents. 

May These Letters Guide You Home has not been submitted to any publishers yet.  This section will be updated once it has been accepted for publication.  If you are interested in purchasing this piece, please contact me for your order.

Copyright © 2018 by Jeremy Bell