DRAMATIC LYRIC: A Silence Haunts Me


Photo by Julian Lozano

Loosely adapted from the "Heiligenstadt Testament" (the anguished 1802 letter in which Beethoven confronts the horror of his growing deafness) Todd wrote "A Silence Haunts Me" for composer Jake Runestad's ACDA Brock Memorial Commission.


It was performed for two standing ovations at the 2019 American Choral Directors Association conference in Kansas City. It has since been performed at Carnegie Hall and around the world.


It's a masterpiece.

 Dale Warland


Written in the style of a handwritten letter, unpunctuated except by "silences" surrounding personal pronouns to indicate the great composer's isolation, the text was informed in part by Boss's visit to the Austrian town of Heiligenstadt, the secluded spa town where Beethoven was sent to "recover" his hearing, which of course he never did.



Collaborating with Todd has been one of the greatest gifts of my creative life.

Each new project holds a thrill of ideas, a constructive push-and-pull of directions,

and always, a profound look at what it means to be human. He continues

to challenge me and inspire me with his brilliance and sensitivity.

— Jake Runestad



Runestad scored the text by adapting themes Beethoven was developing at the time he wrote the letter. The work ends in a crushing silence, as the conductor conducts a choir the audience can no longer hear, enacting deafness and practically forcing the audience to empathize.

Commission Todd or Jake to write an original work for your choir or orchestra using the contact form on Todd's ABOUT page.



After Jake brought me the concept for this piece, the line "A silence comes for me" woke me in the middle of the night in London, and I wrote the first drafts the next day on a flight home to Minneapolis. My seat-mates must have known something was up. I wrote for almost the entire flight, crying at times, shaking at others, possessed. I've never been so fully absorbed in the writing of anything in my life.


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