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Work Samples

Sonata "Los Dedicatorias," for Violin and Piano

Excerpt from the 4th movement of the Sonata. Full recording to be released on the 2018 album "Peter Dayton: Notes to Loved Ones, Music for Strings and Piano" by Navonna Records Fernando de Szyszlo’s paintings have inspired me since 2011, generating four compositions and a lasting correspondence and friendship with the artist. After several years of contact with the esteemed Peruvian painter, I decided to accept the generous offer of hospitality extended to me, and I went down to Lima to visit the Szyszlo family.

I Will Be Earth, for SATB Chorus (text by May Swenson)

Premiered on Jun. 6, 2015 in Baltimore, MD By Joshua Glassman and the Mt. Vernon Consort. Swenson’s ecstatic words, elaborating the permeable barrier between love and lust, emotional and physical connection, tumble over each other, breaking conventions ofpunctuation, grammar, and syntax. In the first stanza, Swenson assigns her and the poem’s addressee the roles of complementary objects, interlocking pieces.

Mar de Lurín, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo, for Oboe and Guitar by Peter Dayton

Premiered on Oct. 23, 2011 in Nashville, TN By Lindsey Reymore and Professor Joshua McGuire The paintings of Polish-Peruvian artist Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925) were introduced to me by Dr. Michael Alec Rose in the Spring of 2010. I was transfixed by the vibrant, saturated colors that Szyszlo used, and by the mysteriously ancient quality and subject matter of his art. In a manner analogous to music, Szyszlo's artwork is pervaded by motifs that gain their own significance both within each painting and a universal significance within Szyszlo's œuvre.

Grounds Excerpt by Peter Dayton

The title of the work, Grounds, touches several different points of reference, some musical, some poetic, some personal. ‘Ground Bass’ forms such as the Passacaglia and the Chaconne feature contrapuntal interaction with recurring or ostinato bass-lines, and in its unfolding Grounds makes use of, or recalls, the ‘Ground Bass’ idea in several places.

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About Peter

Baltimore City

Described by the Baltimore Sun as having “a refined sense of melodic arcs and harmonic motion,” Peter Dayton’s compositions have been performed across North America and in Europe. With degrees in composition from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and Peabody Conservatory (M.M.) Peter has received university, national, and international awards for his music. Peter’s creative process often involves using visual art or poetry as the spark for an artistic response. His works responding to... more

Notes to Loved Ones, Music for Strings and Piano

An album of chamber works by Peter Dayton for mixed ensembles of Piano and Strings, to be released by Navonna Records, March 2018
Excerpt from the Liner Notes: "It is almost impossible for me to discuss my own music without making reference to a person or piece of art that was central to my music’s creation. Dedication, citation, attribution, these are all attitudes that punctuate my creative process with gratitude for the sources of my output. These pieces are not simply footnotes on the artwork, people, and experiences that have meant so much to me. The music, however, would not have been written without them. "

Featuring
Yang Guo, Viola
Joshua Hong, Violin
Lavena Johanson, Violoncello
Andrew Kwan, Violin
Michael Sheppard, Piano
Marika Suzuki, Violin
Sarah Jane Thomas, Violin

Works Featured:
Fantasy, for Viola and Piano (2009)
Morceaux des Noces, for String Quartet (2013-2014)
Sonata "Los Dedicatorias," for Violin and Piano (2016)
Variations, for String Quartet (2012)
Sonata, for Violoncello and Piano (2014)

  • Sonata "Los Dedicatorias," for Violin and Piano

    Excerpt from the 4th movement of the Sonata. Full recording to be released on the 2018 album "Peter Dayton: Notes to Loved Ones, Music for Strings and Piano" by Navonna Records Fernando de Szyszlo’s paintings have inspired me since 2011, generating four compositions and a lasting correspondence and friendship with the artist. After several years of contact with the esteemed Peruvian painter, I decided to accept the generous offer of hospitality extended to me, and I went down to Lima to visit the Szyszlo family.

MAY SHE | SHE MAY, A Chamber Opera in One Act

Single-Act Chamber Opera

Premiered on Apr. 25 in Baltimore, MD
By Tirzah Hawley (Gertrude)
Young Eun Lee (May)
Katharine Estes (Mabel)
Hanna Shin, Piano
Mari Takeda, Percussion
Aaron Thacker, Harpischord
Peter Dayton, Composer, Librettist, Conductor

This work was composed as part of the Opera Etudes collaboration program at the Peabody Institute, the premiere directed by Roger Brunyate. It concerns one of the pivotal relationships in the life of the famous writer Gertrude Stein. At the age of 20 (1900), a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University, Stein finds herself unhappy in her work and in the misogynistic hostility from her teachers and colleagues. She also finds herself attracted to one of the women in her circle of friends, May Bookstaver. In discovering a side of herself that she had not before acknowledged, Gertrude Stein undergoes an experience which will change the course of the rest of her life. Some of her earliest fictional writings are conspicuously drawn from this experience, including Q.E.D. (which addresses this same love affair) , Melanctha from Three Lives, and The Making of Americans.

  • MAY SHE | SHE MAY.jpg

    Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Pablo Picasso (1906), Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • MAY SHE | SHE MAY - Finale

    The final scene from the world premiere of MAY SHE | SHE MAY, a one-act chamber opera about Gertrude Stein's first love affair, at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 2016.

An American Mass: A Collection of Settings of Modern American Poetry for Mixed Chorus

"An American Mass" is a series of choral settings of modern American poetry that examine transcendent themes through a secular lens. The texts that I set in these choral compositions deal with questions of how humans relate to one another, how we see the world around us, how eternal an instant can feel, the joy of sensual pleasure, the desire for things to be what they seem, the desire and frustration for the betterment of our own human nature. An ongoing project, "An American Mass" was originally intended to be a ten movement work. It is really more of a choral songbook or collection of pieces, which can be performed individually, grouped into suites, or performed altogether, and as time passes the "Mass"will no doubt continue to grow as well. A work that is attempting to increase the repertoire of spiritual but secular choral music, "An American Mass" subscribes to no dogma, hence the freedom with the way the movements can be programmed or grouped.


Featured Works:

A Name For All (2017), text Hart Crane (SATB)

THIS (2017), text by A. R. Ammons (SATB)

The Weight Of The World Is Love (2017), text by Allen Ginsberg (SSATBB)

The Answer (2016), text by Robert Creeley (SATB)

The Tree That Plucks Fruit (2015), text by Vicki Hearne (SATB)

Midsummer (2015), text by William Bronk (SATB)

By Disposition of Angels (2014), text by Marianne Moore (SATB)

The Core (2013), text by Ronald Johnson (SATB)

I Will Be Earth (2013), text by May Swenson (SATB)

Just Walking Around (2013), text by John Ashbery (SATB)

  • Just Walking Around, for SATB Chorus (text by John Ashbery)

    Premiered on Jun. 6, 2015 in Baltimore, MD By Joshua Glassman and the Mt. Vernon Consort Ashbery’s poem begins with a profound question: how do the few words we take on as a name describe our essence? The poem meditates on our feelings of connection and otherness, whether that between connection to others or otherness from ourselves.
  • I Will Be Earth, for SATB Chorus (text by May Swenson)

    Premiered on Jun. 6, 2015 in Baltimore, MD By Joshua Glassman and the Mt. Vernon Consort Swenson’s ecstatic words, elaborating the permeable barrier between love and lust, emotional and physical connection, tumble over each other, breaking conventions ofpunctuation, grammar, and syntax. In the first stanza, Swenson assigns her and the poem’s addressee the roles of complementary objects, interlocking pieces.
  • The Core, for SATB Chorus (text by Ronald Johnson)

    Premiered on Jun. 6, 2015 in Baltimore, MD By Joshua Glassman and the Mt. Vernon Consort This short poem by Johnson addresses, in mystical tones, the desire for clarity, transparency, equivalency between perception and reality, so that words themselves have a physical quality of realness “you can put your foot through.” The Core, in aching brevity speaks to our search for truth, with the past tense “wanted” suggesting that this poem comes at the end of a long search, still not fully completed.

Grounds and Lands, Music Written in Correspondence with John Hitchens

I was drawn to the artwork of John Hitchens through the work of his father, celebrated British painter Ivon Hitchens. In soliciting permission to reproduce the images of his father's work, I discovered John Hitchens's own, magnificent work. His more recent work has taken on the almost textile quality of an aerial photograph, repeating lines and textures with reddish, warm earth tones, and his "From Sombre Lands" painting inspired a new composition. This began a friendship and correspondence that has lasted years, voyages and visits, which was the inspiration for the string orchestra piece "Grounds." In response to my orchestral rendering of "From Sombre Lands," Hitchens created a new, large painting, visible on his website (johnhitchens.com). In response to this new painting, I composed a new, large work for orchestra; I am hopeful this creative tit for tat will continue for many years.

Featured Works:
- Open-Air: Four Landscapes in Paintings by Ivon Hitchens, for Oboe/English Horn and Violin (2012)
- From Sombre Lands, after paintings by John Hitchens, for Piano/Orchestra (2013)
- Grounds, for String Orchestra (2014)
- Symphonic Poem - From Forgotten Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens (2017)

  • Grounds, for String Orchestra (Live Performance), Peabody Symphony

    Live performance on Feb. 28, 2017 by the Peabody Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alan Buxbaum The title of the work, Grounds, touches several different points of reference, some musical, some poetic, some personal. ‘Ground Bass’ forms such as the Passacaglia and the Chaconne feature contrapuntal interaction with recurring or ostinato bass-lines, and in its unfolding Grounds makes use of, or recalls, the ‘Ground Bass’ idea in several places.
  • Open-Air: Four Seasons in Landscapes by Ivon Hitchens, for Oboe/English Horn and Violin

    Open-Air: Four Seasons in Landscapes by Ivon Hitchens, for Oboe/English Horn and Violin Premiered on Mar. 19, 2012 in Nashville, TN By Lindsey Reymore and Caroline Hart Inspired by the paintings of British landscape artist Ivon Hitchens, this duet unfolds over the course of four movements, each inspired by a painting of a different season, and each followed by an interlude (and finally a postlude) called Winds, indicating a change of seasons. This piece came together partially as the result of a collaborative project with the Royal Academy of Music.
  • From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens, for Orchestra

    I had originally conceived From Sombre Lands (2013) as a work for solo piano. It was requested by a dear friend and fellow composer for a recital which would connect Rachmaninoff’s Etude Tableau in D Minor Op. 33, No. 4 and Chopin’s Nocturne in B Major Op. 62, No. 1 on her program.
  • Grounds, for String Orchestra

    The title of the work, Grounds, touches several different points of reference, some musical, some poetic, some personal. ‘Ground Bass’ forms such as the Passacaglia and the Chaconne feature contrapuntal interaction with recurring or ostinato bass-lines, and in its unfolding Grounds makes use of, or recalls, the ‘Ground Bass’ idea in several places.
  • Symphonic Poem - From Forgotten Lands, for Orchestra.pdf

    This work is the latest addition to a growing catalogue of letters, works of music, paintings, and visits that constitute my friendship with the British artist John Hitchens and his wife Rosy. In response to John's large three-panel painting "From Sombre Lands," I composed a piano work, which I then orchestrated. Inspired to this orchestration, John completed a large painting in 2015. This new piece is in response to that latest painting in our chain of creative correspondence. The title comes from what I suppose is a misreading of one of the captions to a photograph of the painting in progress, which John included in a letter to me. It is perfectly fitting, though. Landscapes have been the primary subject of John's career, first in a loose painterly style like his father Ivon Hitchens, and then in a more geometric, abstracted style, with paintings resembling the patterning and texture of aerial photographs of landscapes. John’s recent work has focused on this rhythmic, linear style, using warm earth-tones for the majority of his palette. This new painting swirls with styles and colors: the aerial style of recent paintings as well as the painterly style of his earlier work, pinks, blues, and teals join the warmer, reds, yellows, and browns in an enormous piece of truly orchestral scope. The reunion of a forgotten or relinquished style with his current aesthetic make for a powerful statement about the arc of an artist’s creative output. In its dense, rich harmonies, its varied moods, gestures, and timbres, this work serves as a worthy response to such a beautiful creation.
    PDF icon Symphonic Poem - From Forgotten Lands, for Orchestra.pdf

Extraño Lugar, Music Inspired by Paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo

The surrealist and primitivist works of the late Fernando de Szyszlo have served as an ongoing inspiration for many years. His dark, lush, symbolic paintings have inspired numerous compositions for solos and duos. In personal correspondence about these tributes de Fernando de Szyszlo's work, de Szyszlo writes: "Thanks to you for the pleasure you have given me with your music and for understanding what I search for in painting." Joining these pieces inspired by his paintings is a more recent work that pays tribute to my visit to Perú, where I met and stayed with the artist and his family.

-Sonata, "Los Dedicatorias," for Violin and Piano (2016)
-Sol Negro, for 2 Guitars (2014)
-Cello Suite, Los Visitantes de la Noche (2012)
-Mar de Lurín, for Oboe and Guitar (2011)
-Recinto, for Double Bass (2011)

  • Sonata "Los Dedicatorias," for Violin and Piano

    Excerpt from the 4th movement of the Sonata. Full recording to be released on the 2018 album "Peter Dayton: Notes to Loved Ones, Music for Strings and Piano" by Navonna Records Fernando de Szyszlo’s paintings have inspired me since 2011, generating four compositions and a lasting correspondence and friendship with the artist. After several years of contact with the esteemed Peruvian painter, I decided to accept the generous offer of hospitality extended to me, and I went down to Lima to visit the Szyszlo family.
  • Mar de Lurín, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo, for Oboe and Guitar

    The paintings of Polish-Peruvian artist Fernando de Szyszlo (b. 1925) were introduced to me by Dr. Michael Alec Rose in the Spring of 2010. I was transfixed by the vibrant, saturated colors that Szyszlo used, and by the mysteriously ancient quality and subject matter of his art. In a manner analogous to music, Szyszlo's artwork is pervaded by motifs that gain their own significance both within each painting and a universal significance within Szyszlo's œuvre. His paintings of Lurín from (a coastal city in Peru) are some of his most beautiful and sensuous works.
  • Recinto for Solo Bass, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo

    Recinto, for solo bass, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo Premiered on Apr. 7, 2011 in Nashville, TN By Brycen Ingersoll This work was composed after the premiere of my Sonata for Solo Violin in the winter of 2011 at the request of Brycen Ingersoll. Its title comes from Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo's Recinto, or 'Enclosure,' series. The windows and staircases clearly visible in these paintings raise the question of whether the enclosure is figurative or literal, and, if figurative, if the enclosure is a voluntary or involuntary state.
  • Sol Negro, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo, for 2 Guitars

    (HEADPHONES RECOMMENDED for movement 1, very low levels) The first movement of a duo inspired by the paintings by Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo. De Szyszlo, influenced by Incan artwork and symbolist poets, draws the sol negro image, the black sun “of melancholy,” from a Gérard de Nerval poem. In de Szyszlo’s paintings, the sun hangs ominously: brooding the first movement expresses, a menace that manifests itself in the second. De Szyszlo’s black sun also touches the Incan image of the apocalyptic black rainbow (another painting title).
  • Cello Suite: Los Visitantes de la Noche, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo

    Cello Suite: Los Visitantes de la Noche, after paintings by Fernando de Szyszlo Premiered on Mar. 18, 2014 in Nashville, TN By Justin Goldsmith The Cello Suite responds to the paintings of the Polish/Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo. Hermetically symbolic, sensuous, primordial, Fernando de Szyszlo’s work often takes the forms of series of paintings on a single subject. Los Visitantes de la Noche takes its inspiration from a collection of paintings, based primarily off the figures in the eponymous triptych.

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