Jonathan Santore, Composer
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The Owl and the Pussycat

Listen to excerpts at the Yelton Rhodes Music site.

  • For SATB chorus and piano OR guitar
  • Secular text: Edward Lear’s beloved poem
  • 3:00
  • Difficulty rating (1-5): 2
  • Published by Yelton Rhodes Music, Inc. (catalog listing with audio file)

Commissioned and premiered by the New Hampshire Master Chorale, Dan Perkins, Music Director.

When I was asked to write a short, playful work for the New Hampshire Master Chorale, I hit upon the idea of setting Edward Lear's famous nonsense poem almost immediately. I was also pleased by this choice because it was a favorite poem of my in-laws, Marquita Dubach and the late Douglass Green—this poem was "their poem" in the way that many couples have an "our song." This setting is dedicated to them, and I hope that it captures qualities of their relationship that I cherish—gentleness, playfulness, and deep affection. The audience at the premiere left the hall happily singing bits and pieces of this to themselves!

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
        In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
        Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
        And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
        What a beautiful Pussy you are,
                You are,
                You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
        How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
        But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
        To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
        With a ring at the end of his nose,
                His nose,
                His nose,
        With a ring at the end of his nose.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
        Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
        By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
        Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
        They danced by the light of the moon,
                The moon,
                The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

—Edward Lear

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Jonathan Santore
Plymouth, NH
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