One of the very few composers to have won both a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar, Corigliano wrote the song cycle in 2000 on a commission from Carnegie Hall for soprano Sylvia McNair. She asked him to set an American text or texts, and he hit on the idea of using the lyrics of Bob Dylan, whose reputation he knew but whose songs he had never heard.
Corigliano avoided listening to Dylan's recordings until he had finished his own settings; his intent was to compose new music for Dylan's words just as Schumann and Wolf set the same poems of Goethe in different ways.
The lyrics Corigliano selected for his cycle include "Mr. Tambourine Man" (which serves as a prologue), "Clothes Line," "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," "All Along the Watchtower," "Chimes of Freedom" and, as an epilogue, "Forever Young."
Soprano Amy Burton and pianist Stephen Gosling will perform Mr. Tambourine Man at Symphony Space's Leonard Nimoy Thalia theater on January 25 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.symphonyspace.org.
It's worth mentioning, just by the way, that the following night, in the same space, there will be two concerts by Tin Hat, an ensemble which describes itself as "music for the shotgun wedding of Astor Piazzolla and Django Reinhardt with Charles Ives as the flower girl."