The Little Prince, suite for wind quintet


Program Notes

Suite for Le Petit Prince (May, 2010) is written for wind quintet. It was premiered by the Sarasota Wind Quintet as part of an annual collaboration between the New College of Florida and the Sarasota Orchestra.

The inspiration for Suite for Le Petit Prince came from the novella of the same name, beloved story of my childhood. It was written and illustrated by French aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery who disappeared while flying above the Mediterranean only one year after the completion of the book. While the book follows the aviator's journey, this composition follows the little prince's journeys on Earth.

I. Introduction and Arrival: The Little Prince lands in the desert traveling to many lands and tries to make sense of his new surroundings.

II. The Snake's Offer: The first earthly creature that the little prince meets is a mysterious snake, whose offer to the little prince remains ambiguous to the end:

“I can carry you farther than any ship could take you,” said the snake. “Whomever I touch, I send back to the earth from whence he came...I can help you, some day, if you grow too homesick for your own planet. I can–”
“Oh! I understand you very well,” said the little prince. “But why do you always speak in riddles?”
“I solve them all,” said the snake.
And they were both silent.

III. The Rose Garden: The third movement alludes to the love story that permeates this novella. Before traveling, the prince's beloved rose tells him that she is the only rose in existence. Imagine his unease when he stumbles upon a rose garden on Earth and finds her image mirrored all around him. The third movement depicts that beauty, disillusionment, and the second metamorphosis of the prince's theme.

IV. How to Tame a Fox: The fourth movement explores the little prince's encounter with the fox, who asks him to tame him:

Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little
boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world. . . ”

At the chapter's close, the little prince discovers to his surprise that his beloved rose is still unique to him in all the world because she has tamed him.

V. The Snake's Bite: The aviator overhears a conversation between the snake and the little prince:

“You have good poison? You are sure that it will not make me suffer too long?”

The aviator is deeply troubled by these words, further so when he sees how terrified the prince is to accept this fate. But as night falls, the little prince walks out into the desert alone to meet the snake. The snake's theme is revealed as originally imagined: a writhing 12-tone sequence. Here is the end of the aviator's story, but the Suite continues to explore the ambiguous and ineffable end of the little prince's story with another thematic transformation.