About the Piece

“This piece was inspired by the paintings of visionary American watercolorist, Charles Burchfield (1893-1967).” 

Composed in 2011, “Sphinx…” is a tone poem that can be divided into three distinct sections. The opening section is sporadically scored with outbursts from winds, juxtaposed by statements in the brass. The middle section takes elements from the opening section and elaborates upon them throughout the section, maintaining a sort of dialogue between the different sections of the orchestra. The closing section is a return of the beginning ethereal material as brief coda.

<p>Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), <em>The Sphinx and the Milky Way</em>, 1946; opaque and transparent watercolor, chalk, and crayon on wove watercolor paper, 52 5/8 x 44 3/4 inches; Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Museum of Art, Utica, New York, Museum Purchase, 48.45</p>
The Sphinx and the Milky Way


2(1.1).2(1.1)2.2 – – timpani – percussion – harp – strings

About the Composer

Nell Shaw Cohen (b. 1988) evokes landscapes, visual art, and the lives of mavericks in her lyrical works for the stage, concert hall, and digital media. Her commissions have included Houston Grand Opera, Skylark Vocal Ensemble, Boston Choral Ensemble, The Brass Project, and Montage Music Society. Her operas have had workshops with Fort Worth Opera, American Opera Projects, New Dramatists, New York University, and University of New Mexico. Previously Artist-in-Residence with Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Cohen earned her degrees in composition from NYU and New England Conservatory. Her honors have included the OPERA America Commissioning Grant for Female Composers, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Arts Award, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music. As Director of LandscapeMusic.org, an international composers’ network, she advocates for music inspired by landscape, nature, and place. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. (from www.nellshawcohen.com)

Performance Materials

Perusal Score:

Performance materials are available by contacting the composer through the composer’s website: