"When I received the commission from Professor Duffy for the Yale Concert Band premiere, it seemed natural to use Thomas Dewing's painting as the programmatic basis for a tone poem that would employ the particular richness provided by such an ensemble. I had happened upon the magical painting in the Yale University Art Gallery some years earlier and had returned to it each time that I was in New Haven, as it represented to me all of the mysterious charm of the summer season. This painting, Summer, a haunting scene which portrays several elegant and ethereal women languidly dancing to the accompaniment of a harp, is the inspiration for my composition, Midsummer Music; the title was suggested by a line from Matthew Arnold's Thyrsis: "Soon will the high Midsummer pomps come on..." - Byron Adams, 1993
Summer-Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), one of the country's most sensitive and poetic American figure painters of the turn of the century, was born in Boston. After studying at art academies in Paris and Munich for several years in the 1870's, he settled in New York City, married fellow artist Maria Oakey, and became affiliated with the progressive Society of American Artists. In 1897, Dewing joined The Ten American Painters, a group that included such leading American Impressionists as Childe Hassam and John Twachtman.
The subject of Dewing's paintings was always women. These slender, ethereal creatures dressed in long, flowing gowns appear in soft green fields, as in Summer, or as single, contemplative figures in elegant interiors. His colors are restrained but harmonious. An outstanding draftsman, Dewing also worked in silverpoint or pastel to produce exquisite female heads and refined studies of the female nude.
Back to index of works