Leopold Bloom's Homecoming


Score title

Leopold Bloom's Homecoming


Victoria Bond

More about the composer



Program note

The text of Leopold Bloom’s Homecoming comes from James Joyce's novel Ulysses, and is the pentultimate episode. I have set the last part of this episode, when Bloom returns to his home and his wife Molly. When questioned by her about his day, he recounts only a partial list of his activities, although she who is s part of a larger plan to set other sections of the book as separate works. Having composed the end of Ulysses first, the characters and situations have their origin in Molly ManyBloom.

I think of each character as a dramatic, operatic personality, and the music functions in a variety of ways: it expresses what that character is actually saying, but also what he/she is not saying – that is, the subtext. This is particularly significant in Leopold Bloom’s Homecoming as much of the text is dry and factual, with an external narrator asking questions. Because of this, I set some passages as recititive or spoken in rhythm. When Leopold Bloom talks about his infant son dying after only eleven days it’s presented in a matter of fact way, but I thought, his soul is crying at this point and, really, the music needs to be there to show all of the pain that Bloom cannot express but which he deeply feels. That white space on the page that silence in the music is the gap that invites something to jump across it. I didn’t fill in all the lines and spaces--it’s not a saturated musical canvas all the time. Sometimes the music leaves a lot of questions, which I think the novel does as well. Ulysses is so intensely detailed in some sections and so spare in others. It’s not a book that you go to for explanations - its thought provoking for what it leaves out.