Juliet Hess is an assistant professor of music education at Michigan State University, having previously taught elementary and middle school music in Toronto. Her compositions regularly center the voice. She has written extensively for choir and for solo voice with chamber accompaniment. Her music draws upon the poetry of Dickinson, Housman, Yeats, Rossetti, Crane, and Lorca, among others.
Juliet received her Ph. D. in Sociology of Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her book, Music Education for Social Change: Constructing an Activist Music Education, explores the intersection of activism, critical pedagogy, and music education. Her research interests include anti-oppression education, activism in music and music education, music education for social justice, and the question of ethics in world music study.
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
by Juliet Hess
Two Parts in any combination (ST/AB, SA, TB, etc) – KH 053 – duration 3:55
An Irish Airman Foresees His Death is a somber piece, as the airman reckons with his fate and the meaninglessness of war. Yeats wrote the poem in honor of his friend, Robert Gregory, a World War I fighter pilot who was killed in the war at age 36. This piece is particularly suitable to program for Remembrance Day or Veterans Day.
William Butler Yeats, widely considered one of the greatest poets of the English language, received the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature. His work was greatly influenced by the heritage and politics of Ireland.
“An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” is a poem by Irish poet William Butler Yeats (1865–1939), written in 1918 and first published in the Macmillan edition of The Wild Swans at Coolein 1919. The poem is a soliloquy given by an aviator in the First World War in which the narrator describes the circumstances surrounding his imminent death. The poem is a work that discusses the role of Irish soldiers fighting for the United Kingdom during a time when they were trying to establish independence for Ireland. Wishing to show restraint from publishing political poems during the height of the war, Yeats withheld publication of the poem until after the conflict had ended. As you’ve maybe guessed, Kiltartan Cross is a place in Ireland. In fact, it is the name of a barony in western Ireland (a barony is kind of like a county, but smaller). Kiltartan was home to one Lady Gregory, a very close friend of Yeats’. The airman in the poem is widely believed to be Major Robert Gregory, a friend of Yeats and the only child of Lady Gregory.