Maurice Sendak, set to music

Maurice Sendak
Children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak sat for an interview at his home in Ridgefield, Conn., in 2011. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/ASSOCIATED PRESS

In 2011, Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air recorded a remarkable interview with Maurice Sendak, the author and illustrator.

At 83, Sendak was confronting questions of mortality, and he died less than a year after the interview. Here's an excerpt:

I'm not unhappy about becoming old. I'm not unhappy about what must be. It makes me cry only when I see my friends go before me and life is emptied. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I still fully expect to see my brother again. And it's like a dream life. But, you know, there's something I'm finding out as I'm aging that I am in love with the world.

And I look right now, as we speak together, out my window in my studio and I see my trees and my beautiful, beautiful maples that are hundreds of years old, they're beautiful. And you see I can see how beautiful they are. I can take time to see how beautiful they are. It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time to do the things, to read the books, to listen to the music.

Composer Nathan Hall learned of the interview when a friend emailed him a transcript. That began a creative process that culminated in the choral piece "I Am in Love with the World," a composition that premiered last Saturday in Baltimore. The lyrics are taken from the Fresh Air interview.

Hall joins The Daily Circuit to recount his process. We hear excerpts from the original interview as well as parts of the premiere performance. "I Am in Love with the World" gets its West Coast premiere this weekend in San Francisco.

Here's another artist's treatment of the same material:

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