Time and The Water was written in Reykjavik, Iceland in the summer of 1996 while the composer resided there as a Fulbright Research Scholar. It is dedicated to and written for Paul Basler, Associate Professor of Horn at the University of Florida. He and pianist Kevin Sharpe premiered the work at the University of Florida in the Fall of 1996 when the composer was in residence there.
The thirteen-minute work is a musical apotheosis of the long poem entitled Timmen og Vatnið (Time and the Water) by Steinn Steinarr (1908–1958), the father of modern Icelandic poetry. The poem is an expression of the poet’s anguish at being separated from a young woman with whom he had fallen in love. She was the daughter of distinguished Icelandic parents who felt that a poet was beneath the level of their family and therefore shipped her off to New York City in order that she and Steinarr could not see each other. Thus the “Water” is the Atlantic Ocean and the “Time” is the distance that separated the lovers. In a country famous for its great poets since the middle ages, Timmen og Vatnið is perhaps the most famous Icelandic poem of the twentieth century.
Professor Emeritus from the University of Florida, Dr. John White held the position of Fulbright Research Scholar in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1996.