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Songs of Eterniy




Songs of Eternity

Instrumentation: Soprano; 2-2(E.H.)-2-2; 2-2-Tbn-Tba; Timp., 2Perc., Hp., Str.
Duration: 18 minutes
Premiere: Renée Fleming, soprano, Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz, conductor; 14 September 2002, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, USA
Recorded by: Fort Worth Symphony Label
Score and Parts:Presser Rentals and Purchase 
Online Score: See the Perusal Score on ISSUU

Audio Sample:


Songs of Eternity

Purchase CD from Amazon

About Songs of Eternity:

Ever since I read the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam (12th century Persian poet) in my teenage years, I fell under the spell of his poetry.  When the time came to write a work for my dear friend, Renée Fleming, I set my sights on Khayyam’s poems.  The challenge was to choose nine Ruba’is (two-lined stanza of Persian poetry), out of hundreds, to read like a cohesive selection of poems.

During the period of compositional sketching, Khayyam’s poetry forced me to reevaluate many of my philosophical and moral values concerning life.  Once I settled on the essence of my musical response to Khayyam’s poetry and the meaning of life, the work progressed rapidly.  Songs of Eternity is a musical documentation of my emotional journey, an expression of love and peace, and an affirmation of eternal life. 

The basic musical idea of Songs of Eternity comes from a four-note motive that is heard throughout the three connected songs in a variety of moods and musical textures.  The four-note motive functions as the source of both unity and contrast in the entire piece. 

The score of Songs of Eternity is dedicated to Renée Fleming. 
                                 *     *      *

Text for Songs of Eternity from the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam

Although I have a handsome face and colour,
Cheek like the tulips, form like the cypress,
It is not clear why the Eternal Painter
Thus tricked me out for the dusty show-booth of earth

He began my creation with constraint,
By giving me life he added only confusion;
We depart reluctantly still not knowing
The aim of birth, existence, departure.

* * * *

Oh heart since time’s passing grieves you
And your pure spirit so unseasonably leaves the body,
Sit on the green, spend a few days in happiness
Before the green grass springs from your dust.

Look, the morning breeze has torn the rose’s dress,
The nightingale is in ecstasy at the rose’s beauty;
Sit in the rose’s shade, for many such
Have come from earth and to it returned.

Get up my sweetest, it is dawn,
Gently, gently sip the wine and twang the harp,
For not a soul will remain of those here,
And of those gone, none will return.

* * * *

It is we who are the source of our own happiness,
the mine of our sorrow,
The repository of justice and foundation of iniquity;
We who are cast down and exalted, perfect and defective,
At once the rusted mirror and Jamshid’s all-seeing cup.

Come friend, let us loose tomorrow’s grief
And seize this moment of life:
Tomorrow, this ancient inn abandoned
We shall be equal with those born seven thousand years ago!

When the drunken nightingale found his way into the garden
He discovered the face of the rose and the wine-cup laughing;
He came to whisper in my ear excitedly,
‘Seek out these, life once gone cannot be sought again.’

Text used by permission of the publisher. THE RUBA’IYAT OF OMAR KHAYYAM translated by Peter Avery & John Heath-Stubbs (Allen Lane, THE PENGUIN PRESS, 1979).



"…enchanting…the evening's musical heart…Ranjbaran's lush musical vocabulary and colorful orchestration recall Mahler and Strauss, but the exotic touches such as the melismatic vocal writing are unmistakably original. Seventeen minutes long, the piece wielded a peculiar, timeless magic, and seemed just a fraction of the duration."
-Matthew Erikson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"You may not have heard of Mr. Ranjbaran, but you really should get to know his music…[he] backs the soprano soloist with a large ensemble so skillfully employed that it's fair to call him a master of the orchestra. The instrumental music reinforces the generally pensive air created by the melodic line…[an] impressive work…"
-Olin Chism, Dallas Morning News



…simply outstanding…"
-Chris Shull, Dallas Morning News

"…certainly worth a second hearing… there was much to praise in the score, with its sense of restless motion, its attractive writing for winds, and an almost Wagnerian use of the orchestra."
-Melinda Bargreen, Seattle Times

"This beautiful 16-minute work harks back to Mahler in the sumptuousness and subtle nuance of its orchestration and in its tonal footprint, but there is nothing derivative about it. Its colors and drama fit without mirroring the words from the ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Kahayyam’… Particularly noteworthy were exquisite melismas (expressive passages sung on one syllable) Ranjbaran wrote on words such as ‘sorrow’…"
-Philippa Kiraly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


Behzad Ranjbaran: Songs of Eternity, Helsinki Philharmonic
Helena Juntunen, soprano, John Storgårds, conductor, January 29, 2021

Behzad Ranjbaran: Songs of Eternity from Helsinki Philharmonic on Vimeo.





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