Garth Baxter is noted as a modern traditionalist composer. This is a style that combines the traditions of form and clear melodic writing with the use of contemporary approaches to harmonies and other elements. He has composed works for various performance mediums, ranging from intimate solo and small group settings to larger ensembles such as orchestra and concert band. His compositions have been performed around the world.

Piano Compositions

* Click a song title to view (or hide) a description.

Ballade for a Princess YouTube

10 minutes, Advanced. Alymar $8

20th Century work in the style of the 19th Century ballades of Chopin and Brahms.

This work is in a quasi two-part form. The first part presents a motivic theme, accompanied by some dissonant harmonies. It is episodic and restless. The second part introduces a very lyrical and romantic theme that is followed by a developmental section. The work concludes with another statement of the lyrical second theme followed by a short codetta.

Resistance YouTube

"Resistance is a glorious stance in favor of tonal, lyrical music in an age of atonality and the breakdown of harmony. Here we can hear the musical diction of the before mentioned statement clearly, as Baxter takes us through dense angular passages that open up to grand romantic statements in a moving solo piano composition."
Adorjan Horvát

"Resistance is a solo piano composition that is a prime example of Baxter's harmonic style and command of the modern classical genre, while still maintaining a melodic structure that is easy to follow. The rhythmic structures are just as interesting as the colorful harmonies. The upper extensions of the chords are focused on creating beautiful musical colors. Baxter also fashions tension and release with the use of driving rhythms and poly-rhythmic figures. The form has defined climaxes and melodic developments, at almost seven minutes, the piece takes the listener on journey of musical exploration. The middle section uses space just as much as it does intense chord voicings and rippling arpeggios. Even though the music is intense, Baxter always maintains a balance of melodic flow and tension and release. The quiet section after the big dissent chords are even more impactful because of the intensity leading up to the moment. Baxter's cadential section is sublime: he takes us back to simple romantic harmonies and melodies, ending with a clear and restful cadence."
Brice Boorman

6 minutes, Advanced. Alymar $7

A highly emotional work that begins in atonality and gradually moves to a most tonal conclusion. The form used is related to the classical sonata form. The A theme is lyrical but with some dissonant harmonies. The B theme is highly chromatic and in an extremely up-tempo mostly triple meter. Each time Resistance has been performed it has created great excitement from the audience.

Romance Without Words
(Romance Sans Paroles) YouTube

"Romance Without Words is deeply rooted in an immensely romantic vein, with some passages reminiscent of Chopin, others of Rachmaninoff."
-American Record Guide


6+ minutes Advanced Alymar $10

This is a highly romantic work that is written in the style of a Chopin Nocturne. The themes presented here are found in Act I, Scene 2 of the opera Lily. The form is episodic with developmental work intersecting the melodic statements. This work was premiered in Rome, Italy on May 8, 2011 by Elitza Harbova.

From the Headwaters YouTube

9 minutes, Upper intermediate. Alymar, score and parts $20.00

Piano Trio (Violin, Cello, Piano)

This is a romantic one-movement work in a broad ternary form. It begins with a dark theme in the two stringed instruments. After the piano enters with that theme it then moves to a romantic melody. The B section is up-tempo with a light melody that is tossed around among the 3 instruments. It returns to an abbreviated A section.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my brother Gari Baxter.

(This is a revision of an earlier work: The Rejected Stone.)

Four Views of Love

Prizewinner at the 1997 Delius Composition Competition. A song cycle that depicts four different romantic moods.

Published by North Star Music

8-9 minutes Difficulty levels vary Alymar $15

  1. When You Are Old YouTube

    Words by W. B. Yeats

    Two and a half minutes. Upper intermediate

    (The only one of the four songs in this cycle that should be sung by a male voice.)

    A song of lost love.

    Through-composed. (Although it ends with a return to the opening line.) Lyrical with a soaring dramatic climactic point near the end.

  2. Let it be You  YouTube YouTube

    Words by Sara Teasdale

    One and a half minutes, Intermediate

    This is a song that expresses deep love. (Dedicated to the composer's wife, Katherine.) In binary form with the same melodic figure opening both sections of the song.

    The song is somewhat chromatic but very lyrical and expressive.

  3. Let it be Forgotten YouTube

    Words by Sara Teasdale

    Two and a half minutes, Intermediate.

    This is a poem reflecting a melancholy mood.

    Through-composed with a recurring piano figure. This is a romantic, expressive song that reflects the melancholy of the words.

  4. A Thunderstorm in Town YouTube

    Words by Thomas Hardy

    One and half minutes, Intermediate (somewhat more difficult for singer.)

    The poem is a cute look at young love.

    The song is in a free strophic form.

    It is chromatic with some leaps for the singer.

I Will Always Be Beholden YouTube

From Act I, Scene I of Lily

Arranged for voice and piano.

This aria, sung by Lily to her main love interest Seldon, is a declaration of her dependence on others to maintain her social standing. It is written in the style of traditional operatic arias. That is to say there is strong melodic writing enveloped in a recognizable form.

I Have Said I Love You/
I Dare Not Dream YouTube

An aria and duet from Act I, Scene II of Lily, an opera.

6 minutes, piano part is arranged from orchestral score.

This ultra-romantic excerpt from Lily begins with the aria, I have said I love you, sung by the male lead, Seldon, in which he declares his love for Lily and hopes for her love. This is followed by the duet I dare not dream, in which Lily and Seldon, indeed, express their love for one another.

The Date Seller YouTube

A song from Act I, Scene I of Lily, an opera.

2 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This song is part of the tableaux vivants that are in the opening section of scene I. It is sung by Marie-Lucette Fabienne. This is a simple, folk-like tune is sung while she is portraying the painting The Date Seller by Edwin Longsden Long.

Long Ago YouTube

An aria from Act I, Scene III of Lily, an opera.

5 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This aria comes near the end of the first act. Lily has just realized that her life seems to be spiraling downhill. She reflects that life was so much easier before. Every thing was falling in place. Now she is in danger of losing everything and she also is concerned about the well-being of Seldon.

Three Poems by Linda Pastan

Three songs on poems by former Maryland state poet laureate.

Published by North Star Music

8 minutes, Difficulty varies.

  1. Self Portrait at 44 YouTube

    Two and half to three minutes. Intermediate.

    A song about middle age and the acceptance of our limitations and inadequacies.

    Through-composed song with a recurring romantic piano melody.

  2. Marks YouTube

    One and a half minutes Upper intermediate to advanced.

    The only one of the three songs that should be sung by a female voice.

    A humorous song of the modern woman standing up for her dignity.

    Through-composed but with similar melodic ideas throughout.

  3. Caroline YouTube

    Two and half to three minutes. Easy vocal, intermediate piano.

    This is a thoughtful song about the death of a woman.

    Through-composed bluesy song with extended dramatic piano part.

The Long Hill  YouTube  YouTube

"The Long Hill, its text by Sara Teasdale and a superb example of Baxter's art song writing and in particular the way he studiously matches music to a poet's words."
February 2023

Words by Sara Teasdale

For female voice and piano.

Two and a half minutes Intermediate Alymar $5

A song expressing the realization that we can't always live up to our expectations.

In ternary form.

Intermediate level for both performers.

Grandmother, Think Not I Forget Youtube

"The best (on the recording ASK THE MOON) is the longest, 'Grandmother, think not I forget', a sweet love song set to a text Baxter co-wrote with his wife,"
Laurence Vittes
Gramophone Magazine, May 2018

"The vocal part is gorgeous"
-David Isaacs, Soundboard Magazine, Volume 41 #4, 2016

4 minutes 50 seconds

Words by Garth Baxter and Katherine Baxter freely adapted from a poem by Willa Cather

Touching memorial to the composer's wife's grandmother.This song never fails to bring great response from audiences. It speaks to all who have lost a loved one.

For female voice and piano.

Dobberman Yppan

A Wife in London (from The Battle Cry) Youtube

Words by Thomas Hardy

Three minutes, Difficult for vocalist, intermediate for piano. Alymar $5

Heartbreaking lyrics of a wife receiving a letter stating that her husband has been killed in war, and then the next day she receives a letter from her husband written shortly before he died telling her how much he looked forward to seeing her again.

The music dramatically depicts the romance and the tragedy of the lyrics.

The Man He Killed (from The Battle Cry) Youtube

Words by Thomas Hardy

One and a half minutes Easy Alymar $4

A touching song of sung from the point of view of a soldier who killed another man in war and realizing that in another situation they might have been friends.

Simple folk-like song easy for both the singer and the pianist.

Two Songs of Reflection

Voice and Guitar or Voice and Piano

6 minutes, Difficulty varies. Doberman-Yppan.

  1. The Cradle Song YouTube

    Words by William Blake.

    3 minutes, Lower advanced.

    An interesting text that begins as a lullaby of a mother to a baby and then midway becomes a song about the baby Jesus.

    The music is set in a binary form to reflect the poetry. Each section has two verses with each being set to similar music.

    Tonal but highly chromatic with many leaps for the vocalist in the A section. The B section is almost folk-like in simplicity.

  2. What Death Can Touch YouTube

    Words by Chaim Stern.

    3 minutes, Lower intermediate.

    Highly touching words about losing a loved one.

    Through-composed but with many similar phrases.

Three Madrigals

Voice and Piano.

Published by North Star Music.

6 minutes, Difficulty varies.

  1. There is a Lady Sweet and Kind YouTube

    Two and a half minutes, Intermediate for voice, upper intermediate for guitarist.

    The song captures the mood of light romantic innocence with just a hint of melancholy. This, as well as the other two songs from this set, is written in the style of a renaissance lute song.

    It is written in AA'BA"B' form.

  2. The Silver Swan YouTube

    Two and a half minutes, Difficult. This is a new setting of the poem by Christopher Hatton. Written in ternary form with a coda. The song is difficult due to a fair amount of chromaticism and leaps. But the piece stays within the realm of tonality.

  3. Love Me Not for Comely Grace YouTube

    2 minutes, Intermediate for voice, upper intermediate for guitarist.

    Light hearted love song.

    Through composed but similar motives in each verse.

The Silver Run YouTube

9 minutes, upper intermediate level, ALRY Publications. CD $5 (available late fall, 2003)

The Silver Run is a two-movement work in the neo-romantic style. The first movement, in ternary form, begins with a lyrical chromatic melody that is the centerpiece of this movement. The middle section develops a transitional motive from the first section. The second movement, also in ternary form, is rather upbeat. The first of the two primary themes is lyrical, but active. The second is more rhythmic and chromatic. This is a substantial and fun composition that is sure to be a hit at recitals.

Des Larmes Encadrees (Framed Tears) YouTube

7 minutes, Intermediate to upper intermediate. ALRY Publications $10, CD $5

Des larmes encadrées, for Alto Saxophone and Piano, was written for my friend Romain Gravier, who is a saxophone player in the Paris-based group La Scaña del Domingo. The first of the two main themes is a melancholy bluesy theme, which captures Romain's carefree approach to life. Always relaxed, he takes life as it comes without succumbing to the stress and anxiety the rest of us react to. The second primary theme is loosely based on the English folksong The Willow Tree, which is a favorite of Romain's wife, Laurence Gravier. The title, Des larmes encadrées means Framed Tears. Both of the major themes are a bit reflective, so I infused the music with a more upbeat transitional theme which I used throughout the composition. As in all of my chamber compositions, I made a real effort to make the instruments equal partners. The piano is not accompaniment; it is an essential element along with the saxophone.

How Can These Hands YouTube

From Act II, Scene I of Lily

4 1/2 minutes, piano part is an arrangement of the orchestral score.

This aria is sung by Lily after she finds herself forced to work in a hat shop and discovers that she doesn't have the skills to do the work.

Could You Dream What I Dream YouTube

For Violin and Piano

6 + minutes

Could you dream what I dream is a romantic work written for violinist Nicholas Currie. The opening melody is borrowed from an aria sung in Act I, Scene II, by the male lead in the opera Lily which Mr. Baxter is writing with librettist Lisa VanAuken.

The lyricism that is so clearly a strong feature in Mr. Baxter's style is very evident here - melodic, and flexible in both the violin and piano parts (it's nice that the piano gets some lovely passages, as well!). I would imagine that this piece would fit wonderfully in a recital program, as it could both complement and contrast other works, while still holding its own grown. There is depth and weight to it.
-Ronald Pearl, Guitarist and composer

There are no words to describe the emotions I feel in this piece, which I feel is one of Garth's best. No truer notes of love have ever been spoken and none have pierced my heart so. Don't speak; only listen to notes so true as to never have known language at all, but have soared through the heart's center. The heart's desire. My heart's desire.
-Lea Johnson, Pianist

How Strange to Think YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

5 + minutes, arranged for voice and piano from the orchestral score.

This aria is sung near the beginning of the final scene of the opera. Lily is preparing for the party to announce her engagement to Gus. Marriage to Gus will put her back into a comfortable social and economic situation. There is an attendant with her who is helping her with her hair and clothes. Lily sings this song while reflecting upon her situation and that of the young woman helping her.

I shall forever love you YouTube

From Act II, Scene II of Lily

The bitter but extremely romantic aria is sung by Seldon to Lily upon learning that she is engaged to Gus whom she does not love.

Nights Without Sleep (A Composer's Thoughts)  YouTube  YouTube

Voice and piano, 2 1/2 minutes, Alymar Publicatons

Published by North Star Music

Words by Sara Teasdale

A glimpse at the emotional process of composing music with an extraordinarily accurate text by Sara Teasdale (who called her poems "songs".) This is a short but extremely personal song that the composer worked on off and on for 15 years.

Three Poems from Edna St. Vincent Millay

Difficulty varies.

Published by North Star Music

  1. Afternoon on a Hill (dedicated to Audrey Desjardins and Gabriel Jean) SoundCloud

    1+ minute. Easy.

    A quiet, happy song depicting a delightful afternoon.

  2. Lament (dedicated to Katherine Keem) SoundCloud

    2 minutes 45 seconds. Intermeditate

    A tragic song of loss.

  3. Travel (dedicated to Willow Moss) SoundCloud

    1 3/4 minutes. Easy to intermediate

    Published in Modern Music for New Singers, 21st Century American Art Songs, Tenor, Volume 1 by North Star Music

    A quiet, nostalgic song of longing.

Songs from Irish Poets YouTube

Six Songs from Irish Poets for voice and piano

6 minutes

Commissioned by mezzo soprano Christine Thomas-O'Meally

  1. November 1994 YouTube

    Words by Cathal ó Searchaigh English Translation by Nigel McLoughlin

    Published in Modern Music for New Singers, 21st Century American Art Songs, Mezzo Soprano, Volume 2, by North Star Music

    Heartfelt song of lost love.

  2. Tattoo YouTube

    Words by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

    A song to a new love.

  3. Frida Kahlo's Palette words by Nuala Ní Chonchúir YouTube

    A song describing the colors that Frida used and the feelings that they gave to her.

  4. Woman and Cosmetics YouTube

    Lyrics by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

    A thoughtful song expressing a woman's desire to alter the perceived deficiencies that she sees in herself.

  5. Insomnia YouTube

    Lyrics by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

    A humorous look at the tricks we play to try to get us to fall asleep.

  6. Music's Path YouTube

    Words by Gabriel Rosenstock (Translated by Michael S. Begnal)

    The poet's description of the path that music has taken from its beginnings.

The Darkness Between Us (Flute and Piano) YouTube

Published by Alry Publications.

This work is dedicated to Jwandune, a young casualty of a bomb dropped from a US drone in Afghanistan. This young girl was leading a typical carefree life playing; then suddenly her face was blown off. Her physical life was saved, but her face was destroyed. Through multiple surgeries, her appearance has been reconstructed. She remains blind. The amazing thing about Jwandune is that she also has recaptured her happy perspective although the trauma lingers, and her fears remain close to the surface. 

The Darkness Between Us is divided into two sections. The first, Â lalo lalo lalo, begins with a quote from the Afghan nursery rhyme of the same name. This section represents Jwandune’s easy early life moving into struggle and pain at the moment of attack. As the music tries to recapture the soft nursery rhyme, we find it is changed – now sad, never to be quite the same again. The second part is Jwandune’s Song, which depicts the uplifting strength she has exhibited in her new life.

Commissioned by flutist Karen Johnson.

Wrapped in the Wind and the Sun (Clarinet and Piano)

Written for clarinetist Jennifer Hughson

Published by Alry Publications

This work consists of two short movements that are connected by the return at the end of the 2nd movement of the opening theme of the 1st movement.

Beneath the Hawthorn Tree

*Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

Hearts As One

*Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

We Sat Snug and Warm

*Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

Starry Wondrous Nights

*Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

The Night Grew Cold Without

*Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

The Little Flirt YouTube

Part of a set of miniatures for solo piano written for Bonghee Lee.

This short piece was inspired by the poem Flirt by Nuala O'Connor

It was premiered at the Miniatures concert of the Baltimore Composers Forum, September 27, 2020

Songs Without Words in Miniature for solo piano YouTube

"Songs Without Words in Miniature, six short piano works based on art songs by Baxter, written for Bonghee Lee, … “Hearts as One” finds Baxter at his lyrical best, but others see him venturing into Satie-like dreaminess (“Starry Wondrous Nights”) and jazz-tinged romanticism (“The Night Grew Cold Without”)."
February 2023

6 short works based on songs written by Mr. Baxter. This set was written for pianist Bonghee Lee.

Around 12 minutes

  1. Beneath the Hawthorn Tree

  2. Hearts As One YouTube

  3. We Sat Snug and Warm

  4. Starry Wondrous Nights YouTube

  5. The Night Grew Cold Without

  6. The Little Flirt YouTube