Fandom

Program Notes

Of Sailors and Whales

187pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Talk0 Share

This tone poem is based on five scenes from Herman Melville's Moby Dick. It was commissioned by and is dedicated to the California Band Directors Association, Inc., and was premiered in February 1990 by the California All-State Band, conducted by the composer. The work is subdedicated to Robert Lanon White, Commander USN (Ret.), who went to sea as a simple sailor. McBeth, professor of music and resident composer at Ouachita University in Arkadelphia, AR, provided these notes for each movement:

  • I. Ishmael - "I go to sea as a simple sailor."
  • II. Queequeg - "It was quite plain that he must be some abominable savage, but Queequeg was a creature in the transitory state - neither caterpillar nor butterfly."
  • III. Father Mapple - "This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog - in such tones he commenced reading the following hymn; but changing his manner towards the concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation and joy."


The ribs and terrors in the whale arched over me a dismal gloom
While all God's sunlit waves rolled by, and lift me lower down to doom.
In black distress I called my God when I could scarce believe Him mine,

He bowed His ear to my complaint, no more the whale did me confine.
My songs forever shall record that terrible, that joyful hour,

I give the glory to my God, His all the mercy and the power.


  • IV. Ahab - "So powerfully did the whole grim aspect of Ahab affect me that for the first few moments I hardly noted the barbaric white leg upon which he partly stood."
  • V. The White Whale - "Moby Dick seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from heaven. The birds! - the birds! They mark the spot."


--James Huff 08:56, 18 November 2007 (UTC) (from the program notes of The Claremont Winds, submitted with permission)

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.