Silent Night´s j’ai perdu ta photo and the relation between the composers´ life and work

Every event in the Human´s life,directly affects his personality. With a composer, these events transofms into a new art form according to the composer´s sense of necessity or personal satisfaction. A clear example is Kevin Puts’ opera, “Silent Night.” It is based on “Joyeux Noël,” a film that tells the true story of the truce that took place on Christmas Eve in 1914 during World War I. When considering Silent Night, a musician seeks to learn about the compositional techniques used for the creation of such a work; but personally, how does these evenst influence the composer´s compositional process?.

Kevin Puts is an American composer known for winning the Pulitzer Prize for his opera “Silent Night,” evoking impressive emotional experiences that placed the composer at the top of the music world. Puts mentioned in an interview that his compositional process is linear from the beginning, with each idea connecting to the next. However, there is a moment in the opera which Puts felt the need to set his work aside and complete it later. That moment is in the scene of the aria j’ai perdu ta photo (I lost your photo). The scene takes place in 1914 after an arduous battle on the border of Belgium and France. Lieutenant Audebert laments the loss of a photo during the battle – a photo of his wife, who is pregnant with their first child. The aria expresses the suffering Audebert feels for the loss of his only connection to his family. Puts mentioned that at the time he was writing the aria, he was away from his wife who was pregnant with his baby, so he became emotionally connected to the aria.

The experience of being away from his wife and drawing parallels to the aria is one example of a cognitive process underlying a compositional process. This sense of connection affected his choice of compositional techniques, including decisions about style, orchestration, melody, rhythm. The composer’s personal response also encapsulates the connection that he desires to see transmitted in the music at the moment of the performance. Through the music, Puts’ emotional experience is communicated in a way that is relevant to others. It is relevant because part of the audience will respond by remembering any event in their lifes that affects them in a close way like the composer lived when he was composing that aria.

Alejandro Carrillo Pastrana


Correa Feo Juan Pablo. ¨ Reflexiones sobre la cognición en la creatividad musical.¨ Anuario N. 29, Univesidad de Carabobo. (2006) 403- 426.

Duckles, Vincent, Jann Pasler, Glenn Stanley, Thomas Christensen, Barbara H. Haggh, Robert Balchin, Laurence Libin, Tilman Seebass, Janet K. Page, Lydia Goehr, Bojan Bujic, Eric F. Clarke, Susan McClary, Jean Gribenski, Carolyn Gianturco, Pamela M. Potter, David Fallows, Miloš Velimirović, Gary Tomlinson, Gerard Béhague, Masakata Kanazawa, and Peter Platt. 2001 “Musicology.” Grove Music Online. 3 Mar. 2019.

Tommasini, Anthony. ¨ Tenors Amid the Turmoil of war in the trenches,¨ New York Times (New York, NY),11 Feb. 2013.

¨Full-Length Biography.¨ Accessed March 2, 2019.

Kevin Puts. ¨ About the Opera. ¨ Accessed March 2, 2019

Weaver, Michael. 2015 “Puts, Kevin.” Grove Music Online. 3 Mar. 2019.

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