Ishi's Song

Martin Bresnick

Soft Cover
Performing Ensemble: Piano Unaccompanied
Instrumentation: Piano
Item Number: PL140
Number of Pages: 12
Duration: 8:40
Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Print Status: In Print


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Ishi's Song
Lisa Moore, piano. October 18, 2016.

Quick Overview

Ishi was among the last of the Yahi Indians. Living in northern California, these Native Americans were part of a larger group known as the Yana. They were ruthlessly suppressed and finally decimated at the end of the nineteenth century. The few remaining Yahi people hid in the mountains until they all died, leaving only Ishi. He was found and brought to the University of California at Berkeley by sympathetic anthropology professors Alfred Kroeber and T.T. Waterman. Ishi lived for several years at the University’s museum, then in San Francisco, teaching the professors and other researchers the ways of his people and helping to create a dictionary of his language. He was the last native speaker of the Yahi-Yana language. The opening melody of Bresnick’s work was taken from a transcription and recording made by Ishi himself, singing what he called The Maidu Doctor’s Song. There is no known translation of the text. Ishi’s Song was commissioned by Aeroporti di Puglia and is dedicated to Maestro Emanuele Arciuli. For advanced players.

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by Aeroporti di Puglia.