L. Peter Deutsch
L. Peter Deutsch has a life-long love of music and composition: he wrote his first composition when he was 9. Shortly thereafter, he took a long detour into a successful career as a software developer, returning to composition as his principal occupation in 2003. Despite the detour, he has over 30 years’ experience as a singer, currently with Cantabile; he also has been composing sporadically for about 20 years, and has had short vocal and/or chamber instrumental works performed in a variety of venues. He is currently studying composition at Stanford with Erik Ulman; his advisor is Giancarlo Aquilanti.
About the piece De Humanitate:
In November 2005, I was taking Early Music History and Jazz Theory courses at Stanford. Biking to campus one day, I was struck by the desire to write a piece of vocal music that would reference both the former course’s study of Hildegarde of Bingen, and my new acquaintance with jazz composition through the latter course. The former suggested a piece for women’s chorus (that being Hildegarde’s performing resource) based on a text by Hildegarde (but one that she herself had not set to music as far as I knew); the latter led to the incorporation of some jazz-like syncopation in the work.
As I began writing the music, I decided to leverage my acquaintance with historical idioms (specifically including the medieval idioms I had just been studying) to make the first dozen or so bars move rapidly from chant, through various styles of polyphony, to a modern sound. Imitative polyphony and counterpoint are great loves of mine, and the jazzy middle section uses both of them. I had also been struck by the fact that both of the above courses had discussed the use of the Dorian mode, so I used that for the piece as well.
As for the text, because of my own beliefs, I searched for, and found, one that appealed to me that was spiritual or philosophical but not deist. I actually wrote the music around a somewhat poetic English translation, since I hadn’t found the Latin words at the time; the Latin words came later. The Latin title is mine, not Hildegarde’s.
— L. Peter Deutsch