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Opus number: 1

Title: Novelette for String Quartet

Instrumentation: two violins, viola, cello; also in a version arranged in 1994 for string orchestra

Date written: 1970, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina

Length: four minutes

Premiere performance: Cavatina String Quartet, April 17, 1980, Martha Simonds, Mineko Yajima, violins, Judith Lack, viola, Robie Brown Dan, cello, Paul Hall, The Juilliard School

Important subsequent performances: Bennington Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East, August 1, 1992, Joseph Schor, Joel Berman, violins, Jacob Glick, viola, Michael Finckel, cello

Program notes: “Novelette” for String Quartet was written in 1970 when the composer was an eighteen-year-old freshman student of Gregory Kosteck at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. It remained unperformed for ten years. The work is essentially in three parts with an introduction and is designed for string players with limited technical ability. This four-minute piece is straightforwardly triadic and is meant to entertain.



Opus number: Op. 120

Title: Songs of Reconciliation

Instrumentation: Soprano and orchestra

Commissioned: Tran Nhan Tong Academy

Texts: Tran Nhan Tong, Walt Whitman

Texts: click here
Death (Tran Nhan Tong)
The wild-raging storm sweeps the whole earth now,
Running adrift the drunken fisherman’s boat.
From all four quarters, clouds thicken and blacken,
Waves surge like the report of beaten drums,
Everything washing out by slashing rain, gust-driven,
Beneath the shuddering menace of this thunder.
Afterward, the dust settles, the sky grows calm,
And the moonlit river lengthens out. What time of night is this?

A Clear Midnight (Whitman)
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the worldess,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.

Spring Evening (Tarn Nhan Tong)
I understand nothing, in my youth;
When spring came my mind wandered in flowers.
You already carry within you the family jewel, don’t look for it elsewhere.
I sit on my cushion, I sit on the meditation board,
And watch red petals fall.

Reconciliation (Whitman)
Word over all, beautiful as the sky!
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost;
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly
wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:
. . . For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near;
I bend down, and tough lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

Date written: 2013

Length: ten minutes

Premiere performance: July 12, 2013, Landmarks Orchestra, Christopher Willkins, conductor, Natalie Polito, soprano, Hatch Shell, Boston

Subsequent Performance: April 9, 2014, National Orchestra of Vietnam, Larry Bell, conductor, Hanoi, Vietnam

Program notes: Songs of Reconciliation, Op. 120, was commissioned by the Tran Nhan Tong Academy to celebrate the winners of the 2013 Tran Nhan Tong Reconciliation Prize. The work is written for soprano and orchestra and is based on poetry by Tran Nhan Tong and Walt Whitman. It is to be sung by Natalie Polito accompanied by the Landmarks Orchestra conducted by Christopher Wilkins in the summer of 2013 and later in Hanoi, Vietnam, in the spring of 2014 with the Ms. Polito and the composer conducting the National Symphony of Vietnam.


BAROQUE CONCERTO (2010)  Op. 107

Opus number:  op. 107

Title: Baroque Concerto

Instrumentation: Alto Recorder, Harpsichord, ‘Cello soloists and String Orchestra

Written for: Aldo Abreu, Paul Cienniwa, and Sam Ou

Date written: 2010

Length: twenty minutes

Premiere performance: January 23, 2011, Aldo Abreu, recorder, Paul Cienniwa, harpsichordist; Sam Ou, cellist, Larry Bell, conductor. Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory.

Subsequent Performances: June 13, 2011, Aldo Abreu, recorder: Paul Cienniwa, harpsichords; and Sam Ou, cellist; Larry Bell, conductor. Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concert Series, First Church Boston

Program notes: Aldo Abreu once approached me about writing a concerto for recorder. He first played my solo Caprice no. 3. With harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa and cellist Sam Ou Aldo later played my trio, Serenade no. 2. All three players are known as specialists in the performance of Baroque music. I was so inspired by the trio’s playing that, in the summer of 2010, I wrote a triple concerto featuring the three performers.

My Baroque Concerto is modeled on the form and instrumentation of the concerto grosso of the early eighteenth century. Here the concertino (the group of soloists) consists of recorder, harpsichord, and violoncello; the ripieno (the full group) is a string orchestra. The movements are in the traditional order, fast-slow-fast. The first movement opens slowly in the manner of a French overture. It is followed by a moderately fast fugue. The most unusual formal characteristic of the last movement, by Baroque standards, is a recall of the slow second movement towards the end of the finale. On the whole, the Baroque Concerto is a light-spirited work with quirkiness of character, of wit and surprise.



Opus number: op. 89

Title: David and Old Ironsides

Text: Connie Leeds

Text: click here 

This is the unfinished story of David DeBias, one of the youngest sailors to serve on USS Constitution, the glorious ship known as Old Ironsides.

David was born in 1806 to a free black family on the North Slope of Boston’s Beacon Hill. Many blacks were slaves, even in the North. But on the North Slope of Beacon Hill they were free. Still, it was hard to find work.  America had been at war with the British since 1812. Jobs were scarce, and few would hire a Black man.

Some worked at the harbor’s docks.

Some went to sea.

“I remember one morning. Papa found work and was gone before the sun.

“Momma asked me to take him his dinner. I was only eight but still the fastest runner on Belknap Street.

“I ran down the hill, along the Charles River to the harbor.

“The docks were piled with colorful silks and barrels of sweet-smelling molasses. Chickens clucked. I saw sailors with parrots feathered in red and blue and green.

“Papa was unloading grain sacks as big as me.

“He talked of the ships and the sailors. How brave they were because sometimes the British captured American ships, stealing the cargo and forcing our sailors to work in their navy. But being a sailor was a good steady job. Because of the war, the Navy needed men, even Black men.

“We talked about my favorite ship. Everyone’s favorite: USS Constitution. After she returned victorious against two British frigates last year Papa took me to Long Wharf for the celebration–parades and bands and flags everywhere.

“Everyone calls her Old Ironsides. Her wooden hull is so strong, cannon balls bounce off. Like she was made of iron.

“’Would you like to sail on the best ship of all?’ Papa asked. “He signed me up on Constitution.

“I was young but fast and strong. I’d sleep and eat and work on the ship. They would pay me six dollars a month, a mighty good wage.

“I’ll be a Boy on Old Ironsides. Boy is my rank. No matter your age, Boy is where you start on a ship. A Boy keeps the ship scrubbed and polished and painted.

“And when battles are fought, it’s the Boys who keep the guns in powder.”

[whistle] With a sad farewell to his parents, David boarded Constitution. A shrill whistle signaled the crew to their jobs, and Old Ironsides set sail.

By first day’s end, a star-filled sky met the sea, and David breathed the cold salty air. He was too tired to be anything but brave.

The ship, commanded by Captain Charles Stewart, headed east through calm seas and rough.

When gales hit, Constitution tossed and bobbed. Water sloshed over her decks, soaking everyone and everything.

“We shipped out in December 1814. Crossed the wide Atlantic. I might have been one of the youngest on board, but we all felt small on the great big sea.

“Days and days, we had no ships to take.

“Only Lieutenant Ballard’s smart little dog kept us smiling. “Everyone said the sole reason that dog didn’t talk was ‘cause if he did, they’d have put him to work.

“One morning Lieutenant’s dog starts barking wildly.

“There in the distance was a great big ship!

“Because of that little dog, we captured Susannah, filled with wonders from Argentina.

“Best of all were two baby jaguars we took on board.

“Only days later, I fought in my first battle. It was like this. One evening in February, off the West African coast, the watch called out. Two British ships were gliding across the horizon.

[whistle] “A whistle signaled silence.

“My heart beat so hard I thought they would tell me to keep quiet.

“I was ready to run for powder.

“Old Ironsides was cutting fast and quietly through the water. Then the order was given. ‘Hoist the Colors!’

“Then, ‘Fire!’

“Our guns let loose a broadside. Noise so loud I thought my head would crack open. I kept running with the sacks of powder, scrambling from the hatch to the guns.

“Old Ironsides was hit! Wood splinters flew. We went flying, sliding into the guns, into each other. Back on our feet, we loaded and fired again.

“Both sides were firing at once. A British ship on each side of us.

“But Constitution was the strongest ship ever built. Nothing hurt us bad. We all cheered as H.M.S. Cyane on our starboard surrendered.

“Captain Stewart turned our guns on H.M.S. Levant, and she went on the run. With our bow chaser guns blasting, we chased her. Smoke filled the sky.

“I was near deaf from the noise of the guns. But not too deaf to hear another cheer. Levant surrendered. Two ships in one night!

“Captain Stewart was the best sailor in the Navy. In any navy.

“In the morning they sent me on Levant. She was our ship now. Her deck was bloody with the wounded and dead, her sails shredded and her rigging destroyed. After patching her and fixing the wounded, we sailed for Porto Praya in the Cape Verde Islands. I was sure the fighting was over.

“I was wrong.

“We met three British ships: Leader, Newcastle, and Acasta. Captain Stewart was outmatched so he ran with Cyane and left us to fight, but we were lost. The British took back Levant.

“Now I was a prisoner of war.

“They shipped us without enough water or food to the Island of Barbados. Luckily, the war soon ended. I sailed to Baltimore. There everyone was singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ a marvelous song about a nearby battle. I boarded Constitution, bound for Boston. I was glad to be home. America won the war, and I was part of the winning. Me, David DeBias, a Boy aboard USS Constitution.”

At sixteen David DeBias again enlisted as a Boy on Old Ironsides.

It was 1821 and peacetime as the ship sailed to the Mediterranean.

On the Fourth of July the city of Genoa, Italy, welcomed Constitution. We cruised the Mediterranean from the cliffs of Gibraltar to the Straights of Messina.

“I saw the ruins of ancient Rome in Turkey and the casbahs of Algeria. I visited an Arabic fortress and the grand palaces of Malta. I have been to Syracuse in Sicily and to Tunis and Tripoli.

“I touched the earth of Africa that my soul knew was home.

“But my heart knew I was American.

“I was as good as most and better than many, but without a war, the Navy needed fewer men.

“When we returned to Boston, I collected my pay from the purser and returned to the North Slope. I had done well for my family and for myself.

“I loved Old Ironsides.

“Papa was right. On a ship, if you do your job well, you are a man. No one troubles you. I am sixteen years old. I have crossed the ocean again and again. I have served my country in war and been part of her victory.

“I am a sailor. I am an American.”

After those two voyages on USS Constitution, David never again sailed on a Navy vessel. He sailed on private merchant ships bringing cargos across the seas and along the great rivers. It was hard time to be a Black man, and it was dangerous for a free Black man to travel in the South.

In 1838 David DeBias of Boston, Massachusetts, was captured as a slave in the state of Mississippi.

His ship docked in Mobile, Alabama. Because he was Black, the law said he was a slave unless he could prove he was free.

Judge Thomas Falconer of Winchester, Mississippi, wrote the Navy for proof that David DeBias was a freeman. Falconer believed David’s story. Unless the Navy sent proof, David was doomed to be a slave in the harsh Mississippi cotton fields.

Did David DeBias end his days in freedom or slavery? The records disappeared in a fire. David’s fate is a mystery.

The story of David DeBias is remarkable, but unfinished. We celebrate him, a young sailor on the most famous ship in America. He served in a great victory, one of the finest moments in the nation’s naval history.

“America won the war, and I was part of the winning. Me, David DeBias, a Boy aboard Old Ironsides.”


Instrumentation: narrator and orchestra  1-1-1-1, 2-1-1-0, Perc., Strings

Commissioned: Commissioned by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra

Dedication:  Fay Chandler

Date written: 2007

Length: 25 minutes

Premiere performance: June 2007, Charles Ansbacher, conductor, Landmarks Orchestra, Taj Hotel.

Subsequent performances: July 2007, Hatch Shell on Esplanade, Charles Ansbacher, conductor, Landmarks Orchestra. four performances in local Boston parks in July 2007

Program Notes: David and Old Ironsides, Op. 89, was commissioned and dedicated to Fay Chandler and the Landmarks Orchestra. The work was designed around a text written by Constance Leeds that tells the story of a young black man’s journey through the war of 1812 (between Britain and the United States). This work for narrator and orchestra was performed many times during the summer of 2007, including the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade and at the historic site of Old Ironsides in Charlestown, MA.

Recording: Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Charles Ansbacher, conductor; Robert Honeysucker, narrator. Landmarks Recordings, CD




DARK ORANGE CONCERTO, a Concerto for Viola and Winds (2005)  Op. 77

Opus number: Op. 77

Title: Dark Orange Concerto; a concerto for viola and winds

Instrumentation: Solo Viola, 2 Ob., 2 Bassoons, Eb Clarinet, 2 Bb Clarinets, Bb Bass Clarinet, 3 French Horns in F, and Double Bass.

Commissioned: Bill Drury for the Jordan Winds and violist Carol Rodland

Dedication: to Carol Rodland

Date written: October 2005

Length: ca. 20 minutes

Premiere performance: March 1, 2007, NEC’s Jordan Hall

Important subsequent performances:

Program notes: The title “Dark Orange Concerto” was borrowed from my teacher, Vincent Persichetti. His vivid and colorful description of the viola as having a “dark orange” sound became the central metaphor for my choice of instruments to play with (and against) the soloist in this concerto. The idea of writing a concerto for viola and wind ensemble was first suggested by Bill Drury. After hearing the wonderful violist Carol Rodland play an all twentieth-century program, I thought she would be the ideal soloist.

In order to have the soloist on a more equal footing with the ensemble, the decision was made early on to limit the number of players. Here the “wind orchestra” is made up of  2 oboes, 2 bassoons, an Eb clarinet, 2 Bb clarinets, a Bb bass clarinet, 3 French Horns in F, and a non-wind instrument, a double bass. Every effort was made to use wind instruments that would match the characteristic sound of the viola.

The work has a traditional three-movement design. The first movement’s opening and closing is an accompanied cadenza. These cadenzas enclose a sonata design that is mostly resolute in character. The second movement is lyrical, similar to an aria without words, and concludes with an unaccompanied solo for the viola. The third movement is upbeat and humorous with a prevailing and somewhat lopsided tango rhythm.

Reviews: (performances) (recordings)

Excerpt: Dark Orange Concerto(Coming soon!)


THE TRIUMPH OF LIGHTNESS, a Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (2011) Op. 70

Opus number: op. 70

Title: The Triumph of Lightness, a concerto for cello and chamber orchestra

  1. Fanfare
  2. Scherzo
  3. Elegy
  4. Finale

Instrumentation: Solo cello, 2-2-2-2, 2-2-0-0, 1 perc. hp., strings

Commissioned: Fay Chandler

Dedication: Eric Bartlett

Date written: October 2004

Length: ca. 35 minutes

Premiere performance: November 11, 2012, Boston Civic Symphony, Konstantin Dobroykov, conductor; Sam Ou, cellist. Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory

Subsequent performances:

Program notes: The Triumph of Lightness: a concerto for cello and orchestra was commissioned by Fay Chandler and dedicated to my friend the cellist Eric Bartlett. The work took place over a long period of time, 2004—2011. Much of the music for this four-movement concerto was drawn and developed from two other pieces of mine: Liturgical Suite (2004) for organ and Elegy (2005) for piano. The piano score was completed by the end of 2005 and happily, maestro Max Hobart of the Boston Civic Symphony motivated me to orchestrate the work in 2011.

Each of the movements is based on the same melodic and harmonic material and has more of a formal similarity to the four-movement classical symphony rather than the more common three-movement classical concerto. The movements are: dramatic overture—scherzo and trio—elegiac slow movement—and a fast rondo finale. The climatic point of the last movement presents a return of the slow movement melody played in a very high register by the solo cello, all written in harmonics.

The character of the music attempts to express a lightness of being that triumphs over the dark times that life presents us. The solo cello part is extremely virtuosic and is played brilliantly by my good friend Sam Ou.



SPIRITUALS, a Chamber Symphony for Ten Players (2004) Op.68

Opus number: 68

Title: Spirituals, a chamber symphony for ten players

Commissioned: Max Lifchitz

Dedication: to Max Lifchitz in celebration of 25 years of North/South Consonance

Instrumentation: String quintet, (2 vlns., Vla., cello, Db.) Woodwind quintet (fl., cl., ob., bassoon, and French horn)

Date written: May 2004

Length: ca. 20 minutes

Premiere performance: March 13, 2005 Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, New York, NY; The North/South Chamber Orchestra, Max Lifchitz, conductor.

Important subsequent performance:

Program notes: Spirituals –a chamber smphony for ten players – was completd in the spring of 2004 and was commissioned by Max Lifchitz in celebration of the 25h anniversary of North/South Consonance. The form of the work is much like that of a chorale prelude. Its character remsembles my other music in its attempt to speak to a universal truth through the evocation of a specific time and place.

The first movement is based on I love to tell the Story; the second on Fairest Lord Jesus; and the third is based on There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy.

Each of these hymns is referred to in Romulus Linney’s play Holy Ghosts. The play, which takes place in rural North Carolina among a group of Pentecostals was as much an inspiration when I reread it last year as it was when I saw its premiere at East Carolina University in 1971.

Reviews: (performances) (recordings)

Excerpt: (Coming soon!)


HANSEL AND GRETEL, a Fable for Narrator and Orchestra (2001) Op.59

Opus number: 59

Title: Hansel and Gretel

Instrumentation:  narrator and orchestra: 2-2-2-2, 4-2-3-1, 4 perc, hp, cel. strings

Date written: August 2001

Length:  ca. 30 minutes

Performances: November 3, 2002, NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zander, conductor, Ray Brown, narrator, Jordan Hall (premiere); April 19, 2003, NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zander, conductor, Ray Brown, narrator, Boston Symphony Hall; June 19–29, NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Benjamin Zander, conductor, Mexico City and Panama.

Program notes: Hansel and Gretel, a Fable for Narrator and Orchestra, op. 59, is based on the classic Grimm fairy tale. Unlike the familiar Humperdinck opera libretto, the children in the original fable do not lose their way in the forest, but, much more scarily, are deliberately abandoned by their starving stepmother and father. Both children–and especially Gretel–triumph as the heroes of their perilous adventure.

This piece was commissioned and designed to introduce the instruments of the orchestra to children under the age of twelve. As the narrator tells us, various instruments represent the characters in the story. The French horns play the father’s music, the step-mother is played on a muted trumpet, Gretel is represented by the violin and Hansel by the cello. Three friendly animals are heard in the woodwinds: with a tip of the hat to Prokofieff’s Peter and the Wolf, their cat is played by the clarinet, the bird is played by a flute, and the duck by the oboe. The wicked witch is heard on the xylophone.

In addition certain elements of the story are painted by music. For example, the jewels the children find shine in the orchestra.  The evil step-mother and the witch share the interval of a tritone, and both have similar motives drawn from a half diminished seventh chord. The father’s music centers around c minor, and the music for Hansel and Gretel is closely related to G major.

The challenge of writing a large work for narrator was lightened by the fact that I had previously set two narrator works: Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat for narrator, cello and piano (recorded on CD by Robert J. Lurtsema, cellist Eric Bartlett, and myself as pianist), and Lewis Thomas’s Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony for narrator, violin and piano.

Hansel and Gretel, finished in August in 2001, was commissioned by New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Mark Churchill, Dean. It was written with the instrumentation of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra and with its conductor, Benjamin Zander, in mind.


Text: Grimm’s Fairy Tales, arranged by Andrea Olmstead


Many of you know the Grimm fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel. Today [tonight] we will hear this story with the help of our orchestra. Its instruments will represent the characters, as well as the action.

First we meet their good-hearted father: his music is played on the French horn. [musical example]

Next comes their evil step-mother, played on a trumpet that is muted. [musical example]

Gretel’s sad lament is represented by the violin [musical example] and Hansel by the happy-go-lucky cello [musical example].

Hansel and Gretel meet three animals: their cat is played by the clarinet [musical example]; the bird by a flute [musical example]; and finally a duck, played by the oboe [musical example].

Last and most important is the wicked witch, played by the xylophone [musical example]

Listen for these instruments as we travel with Hansel and Gretel into a deep and scary forest.


[*] By a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter with his wife and his two children, Hansel and Gretel. He had little to eat, and when a great famine came, he could no longer get bread. He groaned and said to his wife, “How are we to feed our poor children, when we no longer have anything even for ourselves?” [*] “I’ll tell you how,” answered the woman, “Early tomorrow morning we will take the children into the forest to where it is the thickest. There we will light a fire, and give each one more piece of bread, and then we will go to our work and leave them alone. They will not find the way home again, and we shall be rid of them.” “No, wife,” said the man, “I will not do that. How can I bear to leave my children alone in the forest?” “O you fool,” said she, “then we must all four die of hunger,” and she left him no peace until he consented. “But I feel very sorry for the poor children,” said the man. [*]

The two children heard what their step-mother had said. Gretel wept bitter tears, and said, “Now all is over with us.” Hansel said, “Do not distress yourself, Gretel, I will find a way to help us.” [*]

Early in the morning came the woman, and took the children from their beds. Their piece of bread was given to them. On the way into the forest Hansel crumbled his in his pocket, and often stood still and threw a morsel on the ground. “Hansel, why do you stop and look round?” said the father, “go on.” “I am looking back at my little white cat which is sitting on the roof, and wants to say good-bye to me,” answered Hansel. “Fool,” said the woman, “That is not your little cat, that is the morning sun shining on the chimney.” [*] Hansel, little by little, threw all the crumbs on the path. [*] The woman led the children still deeper into the forest, where they had never in their lives been before. Then a great fire was made, and the step-mother said, “We are going into the forest to cut wood, and in the evening when we are done, we will come and fetch you away.” [*] When it was noon, Gretel shared her piece of bread with Hansel, who had scattered his by the way. Then they fell asleep and evening passed, but no one came to take the poor children back. When they awoke it was dark, and Hansel comforted his little sister saying, “Just wait until the moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread I have strewn about. They will show us our way home.” [*] When the moon came they set out, but they found no crumbs, for the many thousands of birds that fly about in the woods had picked them all up. [*] They walked the whole night and all the next day too, but they did not get out of the forest, and were very hungry. When their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down beneath a tree and fell asleep. [*]

It was now three mornings since they had left their father’s house. They began to walk again, and at mid-day they saw a beautiful snow-white bird sitting on a bough, which sang so delightfully that they stood still and listened to it. [*] And when its song was over, it spread its wings and flew away, and they followed it until they reached a little house, on the roof of which it alighted. They saw that the little house was built of gingerbread and covered with cakes, and that the windows were of clear sugar. [*] Hansel reached up and broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel leant against the window and nibbled at the panes. [*] Then a soft voice cried from the parlor-

“nibble, nibble, gnaw

who is nibbling at my little house?”

The children answered –

“the wind, the wind,

the heaven-born wind,”

and went on eating. Suddenly the door opened, and a woman as old as the hills came creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman nodded her head, and said, “Oh, you dear children, do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to you.” She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little house. Good food was set before them, milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down in them, and thought they were in heaven. [*]

The old woman had only pretended to be so kind. She was in reality a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only build the little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child fell into her power, she killed it, cooked, and ate it. [*]

She seized Hansel with her shriveled hand, carried him into a little stable, and locked him behind a grated door. Then she went to Gretel, and cried, “Get up, lazy thing, fetch some water, and cook something good for your brother. He is to be made fat. When he is fat, I will eat him.” Gretel began to weep bitterly, but she was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded. [*]

The witch crept to the little stable, and cried, “Hansel, stretch out your finger that I may feel if you will soon be fat.” Hansel, however, stretched out a little bone to her. The old woman, who had dim eyes, could not see it, and thought it was Hansel’s finger; she was astonished that there was no way of fattening him. After four weeks, she would not wait any longer. “Let Hansel be fat or lean, tomorrow I will kill him, and cook him.” Ah, how the poor little sister did lament. [*]

Early the next morning, the old woman said, “We will bake first. I have already kneaded the dough.” She pushed poor Gretel to the oven, from which flames were darting. “Creep in,” said the witch, “and see if the oven is properly heated, so that we can put the bread in.” Once Gretel was inside, she intended to shut the oven and let her bake in it, and then she would eat her, too. [*] But Gretel saw what she had in mind. “I do not know how to get in?” “Silly goose,” said the old woman, “the door is big enough. Just look, I can get in myself,” and she  thrust her head into the oven. Then Gretel gave her a push that drove her far into it, and shut the iron door, and fastened the bolt. [*]  Oh. Then the godless witch began to howl quite horribly, and she was miserably burnt to death. Gretel ran like lightening to Hansel, opened his little stable, and cried, “Hansel, we are saved. The old witch is dead.” Then Hansel sprang like a bird from its cage when the door is opened. How they did rejoice and embrace each other. They looked in the witch’s house, and in every corner stood chests full of pearls and jewels. Hansel thrust into his pockets whatever he could, and Gretel said, “I, too, will take something home with me,” and filled her pinafore full. “But now,” said Hansel, “we must get out of the witch’s forest.” [*]

When they had walked for two hours, they came to a great stretch of water. “We cannot cross,” said Hansel, “I see no foot-plank, and no bridge.” Gretel answered, “but a white duck is swimming there.” Then she cried –

“Little duck, little duck, do you see,

Hansel and Gretel are waiting for thee.

There’s no plank, or bridge in sight,

take us across on your back so white.”

The duck came to them, and Hansel seated himself on its back, and told his sister to sit by him. “No,” replied Gretel, “that will be too heavy for the little duck. She shall take us across, one at a time.” The good little duck did so. When they were safely across and had walked for a short time, the forest seemed to be more and more familiar to them, and at length they saw from afar their father’s house. [*] Then they began to run, rushed into the parlor, and threw themselves round their father’s neck. The man had not known one happy hour since he had left the children in the forest. The step-mother, however, was dead. Hansel and Gretel emptied their pockets until the pearls and precious stones ran about the room. Then all anxiety was at an end, and they lived together in perfect happiness. [*]