Take All My Loves

Poetry by William Shakespeare
for SATB a cappella (2009)

Choral Score

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by Dennis Tobenski


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The Illinois State University Concert Choir
Karyl Carlson, conductor


c. 4 min


21 March 2010
Illinois State University
Center for the Performing Arts
ISU Madrigal Singers
Dr. Karyl Carlson, director


Dr. Karyl Carlson




William Shakespeare : Sonnet 40

Program Notes

Dedicated to Dr. Karyl Carlson 

Take All My Loves was composed in the Fall of 2009 for Dr. Karyl Carlson at Illinois State University during my first residency at the Ucross Foundation near Sheridan, WY. When Dr. Carlson requested that I use a Shakespearean text for the piece, I immediately turned to the Fair Youth sequence of the Sonnets and fell in love with Sonnet 40.

Most of my choral works deal with love and its various aspects, but I had never before worked with a text on the end of love. Here, there is a resignation, a concession to what must have been the inevitable, as well as flashes of anger tempered with an almost pathetic forgiveness. The Youth has badly abused the Poet’s trust; yet despite his anger, the Poet cannot help but to forgive the young man for whom he still has such love (be that love what it may – literary historians still fail to agree on the identity of the Youth and the nature of the love spoken of in the Fair Youth Sonnets, though I certainly have my own ideas on the debate!).

In an early choral work of mine, My True Love Hath My Heart, the ensemble frequently returns to one pitch to demonstrate the singularity of the love in the text; in Fair Robin I Love, the constantly changing key areas serve to highlight the fickleness and promiscuity of the title character and narrator; and here, many phrases diverge from a unison beginning, as did the relationship in the Sonnets. In being true to the text, I have maintained the archaic language; but my 21st Century ears required that I contract the words “receivest”, “usest”, “deceivest”, and “refusest” to avoid sounding incredibly silly.

–Dennis Tobenski