Instrumentation: Solo cello; violin, flute, bass clarinet, piano, percussion (1 player=bongos/large triangle/small triangle/castanets/chi/tambourine/crotales/snare drum)
World Premiere: May 1996 / Present Music, Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Paul Gmeinder, cello / Michael Daugherty
Peermusic Classical, BMI (Americas and Asia)
Faber Music (Europe, Australia and New Zealand)
Duration: 7 minutes
I composed Jackie’s Song as a prelude to my opera Jackie O (1995-97). I imagine Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) as a solitary and melancholy figure after the assassination of her first husband John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1962. My composition is a song without words, for chamber ensemble and solo cello. A mournful cello line is performed by the soloist, who plays in the extreme upper range of the instrument. The solo gradually ascends to a prolonged high C that is suddenly cut short by a riveting snare drum rim-shot. This elegiac theme, comprised of a tritone and a perfect fifth interval, is the compositional core for many of the melodies and harmonies of the composition; later, it became the leitmotif of Jackie in my opera.