About Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening [R. Frost] (1993)
Noam D. Elkies

This setting was conceived, perhaps incongruously for a poem set in the winter solstice, during a July, 1993 visit to Seattle, and completed in Cambridge shortly thereafter. For a choral musician, the title ``Stopping by Woods...'' calls to mind not only Frost's poem but also Randall Thompson's setting for accompanied male chorus from his Frostiana, which I came to know and love as the pianist for the Harvard Glee Club. My setting is an independent composition with its own approach to the text; still, listeners familiar with the earlier piece will recognize some common features. My ``Stopping...'' is mostly homophonic, as is Thompson's throughout. Also, both pieces are set strophically, but with increasingly pronounced modifications and an extended setting of the final repeated line ``And miles to go before I sleep.'' One aspect of Thompson's setting which I do not adopt is the use of the piano `accompaniment' to characterize and differentiate the four verses: unlike that setting, my ``Stopping by Woods...'' is unaccompanied. Thus the voices must both declaim the text and interpret it musically. This is done, in part, using meter: measure and phrase lengths are not regular but shift to convey nuances of text and meaning.