The Mona Lisa (Michael Winikoff)

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  • CPDL #32869:   
Editor: Michael Winikoff (submitted 2014-09-06).   Score information: Unknown, 8 pages, 903 kB   Copyright: Personal
Note: Original composition uploaded by the composer. Permission is granted for this piece to be copied as needed and performed as desired. No royalties are required. I would appreciate being notified of performances, and, if possible, getting a recording (e.g. MP3 file) of performances. Thank you!


General Information

Title: The Mona Lisa
Composer: Michael Winikoff
Lyricist: Leanne Daharja Veitch

Number of voices: 6vv   Voicing: SATTBB
Genre: SecularPartsong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 2009

Description: Leanne wrote: “I keep coming back to this poem. The Mona Lisa has always fascinated me, and there is something incredibly sad about the picture for me. I also find her bone structure interesting, and in this work focused on the fact that not only is the famous smile that was painted now long gone, so too are the fingers that painted her.”

In setting Leanne’s poem I have tried to create a dream-like texture (“acid colours of a dream” and “smoky hues of black, tan and green”). In places the texture vanishes to capture the solitude and loneliness (“such a small smile, so far away”). The section about the visitors (smoking, with flashing lightbulbs, and screaming babies) is set (somewhat ironically) in a happy relaxed style, but, significantly, without any passion or real emotion: it is simply a somewhat pretty tune. The piece ends with a sad fade on the final word: “dust”, emphasised with a sibilant “s”.

In composing this piece I’ve tried to write simply, and to make the piece more readily performable than some of my other works. Although the choir does divide into multiple parts, the piece is almost entirely in 3/4, is rhythmically simple, and does not use any sharps or flats.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

She is there
in smoky hues of black, tan and green
with some white between the edges of the frame
and the listing catch-plate, bearing her name

Visitors. Admirers.

they look:
oh yes….mmm…beautiful…exquisite…
a fine piece of artwork
he really knew what he was doing.
I must buy a print at once -
where's the souvenir shop?

they don't see:
her hidden heart
a wooden plank that's all -
not even canvas.
Rotting all the while.

While the visitors smoked
and the lightbulbs flashed
and the babies screamed
and threw rattles on the carpeted floors

before they slung her in a perspex cage
and hung a crimson barrier on golden stands
and glued the 'No Smoking' signs to the walls
in four major languages.

And esperanto.

Such a small smile:
her eyes, so far away.

The background
semi-formed in the acid colours of a dream
fading into a memory of long dead fingers
twisting the bristles of a brush
and catching a smile then bones,
now dust.