Angles of a Landscape: Emily Dickinson - My Business is to Sing

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"My Business is to Sing" is the third program in the Emily Dickinson's trilogy "Angles of a Landscape." It explores how the music of Emily Dickinson's time gave life to her poetic voice. From early childhood, the poet played music or "moosic," took piano and singing lessons, and later improvised her own "weird and beautiful melodies" to entertain her family and friends.

The 40-minute film was produced by Ernest Urvater, written and narrated by poet Susan Snively. It features music the poet heard or sang, including hymns, popular songs, brass bands, ballet, concert pieces, and opera, performed by Valley musicians and others. A song by well-known contemporary composer Alice Parker reveals Dickinson's experience of joy mixed with anguish. The film shows how the poet, a lover of birds, wove their "dizzy music" into her words, along with the familiar noises of cats, dogs, crickets, frogs, and flies. The poet's words record the loves and losses of a life more dramatic than her readers often suppose. The "Titanic Operas" of the poet's poems and letters are illuminated by the work of artists such as William Blake, Thomas Cole, Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas Nast, George Inness, and Orra White Hitchcock, as well as images from dance, the concert stage, illustrated newspapers, the natural world, and Dickinson's home.

"My Business is to Sing" is based on Carolyn Cooley's 2003 book, The Music of Emily Dickinson's Poems and Letters. In 2010 Urvater and Snively created "Seeing New Englandly," the second program in the "Angles of a Landscape" series. The first was "The Poet in her Bedroom." The series was created under the auspices of the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst.

See a preview of My Business is to Sing. (the clip exceeds TeachersPayTeachers' maximum file size of 5Mb)
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