The Skylark, 1816. Thomas Bewick, wood engraver, 1753-1828. Wood engraving. Illustration from A History of British Birds. The Figures engraved on wood by T. Bewick. Newcastle: Printed by Edward Walker, for T. Bewick: Sold by Him, and Longman and Co., London, 1816, Vol. 1. General Collections, Library of Congress. LC call number: QL690.G7B5
Daniels's Enchantment, op. 17, no. 1, (1908) uses a text in praise of summer by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay (1875-1928). Daniels scores the piece for SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass]. She sets the mood in the opening tempo marking--"Allegro brilliant, with spirit." In a triple meter, one in a bar, the voices begin with a hemiola figure that returns as a motto several times, "O Summer!" Daniels introduces one of her signature harmonic surprises at "Spring is just behind us dying," marked meno mosso, dolce. She progresses from a C-major chord through a C-dominant-seventh chord to an A-flat-major chord. Equally surprising is the movement from A-flat to G major for the following text, " Autumn just before and flying are the days." More poignant harmonies in long note values depict the poetry "Crimson, gold, and purple shading slowly into night, . . . Day and dark exchange soft greeting." A final vivace section reintroduces the hemiola figure, moving into a frantic molto animato ending.
Daniels's compositional career gained major status in 1913, when she presented her choral/orchestral work The Desolate City, op. 21, at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Following that success, she returned to the MacDowell as a fellow for twenty-four successive summers. The wooded setting inspired one of her most widely played orchestral compositions, Deep Forest, op. 34, no. 1, (1932-33), which was the only piece by a woman composer performed at a 1939 Carnegie Hall concert of new American music. The work marked a shift from her Germanic style toward a more impressionistic musical vocabulary. Daniels wrote her best-known work, Exultate Deo (1929), to celebrate Radcliffe's fiftieth anniversary and A Psalm of Praise (1954) for the college's seventy-fifth anniversary. Her Song of Jael, premiered at the 1940 Worcester Festival, marked her first venture into a modern musical idiom, using daring dissonances and highly original choral effects.