Juri Seo

Photo by: Andrew Wilkinson

Two Rhapsodies of Spring (2021)

PRIMAVERA II the rabbits

from the composer

Composed in the spring of 2021, Two Rhapsodies of Spring is my musical response to Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera. Despite being a static piece of art, the painting captures the passage of time through dynamic juxtapositions of characters and their motions. The colors portray both the warmth and the violence of spring, with Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, at the apex of dissonance. Rather than making one-to-one parallels, I decided to respond to the painting’s rhapsodic nature. The first rhapsody is conceived loosely as variations on a few distinctive recurring motives. They appear, merge, and conclude precipitously, symbolizing the mercurial temperament of the early spring as well as the nine mythical characters in Botticelli’s painting. The second rhapsody is like a sarabande. Through the gentle figures with scattered harmonics, I wished to capture the beauty and fragility of spring’s tranquility.


Juri Seo (b.1981) is a composer and pianist based in Princeton, New Jersey. She seeks to write music that encompasses extreme contrast through compositions that are unified and fluid, yet complex. She merges many of the fascinating aspects of music from the past century—in particular its expanded timbral palette and unorthodox approach to structure—with a deep love of functional tonality, counterpoint, and classical form. With its fast-changing tempi and dynamics, her music explores the serious and the humorous, the lyrical and the violent, the tranquil and the obsessive. She hopes to create music that loves, that makes a positive change in the world, however small, through people who are willing to listen.

Her composition honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as commissions from the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress, Fromm Foundation at Harvard, the Barlow Endowment, and the Tanglewood Music Center. Her portrait albums “Mostly Piano” and “Respiri” were released by Innova Recordings. She holds a D.M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she studied with Reynold Tharp. She has also studied at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome, corsi di perfezionamento with Ivan Fedele) and Yonsei University (Seoul, B.M.). She is Associate Professor of Music at Princeton University.