Walt Whitman is one of the essential poets in American literature. This year marks the bicentenary of his birth, so we have a perfect excuse to listen to a third song with one of his poems, after listening to O you who I often and silently come by Ned Rorem and To what you said by Leonard Bernstein.
Johannes Brahms was passionate about folksongs and arranged many pieces, both for choir (a cappella or with piano) and for voice and piano. Today, we're listening to one of them, available in three versions: the first two, composed around 1864, are for mixed choir and female choir, in both cases a cappella (catalogued as WoO. 34/8 and WoO. 36/1 respectively); Today, we're listening to the third one, written for voice and piano about thirty years later and based on the previously existing: In stiller Nacht, WoO. 33/42 [In the quiet night]. It's one of the most celebrated Volkslieder by Brahms; If you don't know it, you'll understand why when you listen to it, it's really beautiful.
We have been listening to German songs for fourteen weeks; it's time to change! This week we're listening to a French song, a mélodie by Ernest Chausson, Chanson perpétuelle, the last work he finished: it was premiered on January 1899 and in June of that year the composer died in an accident at 44.
Chanson perpétuelle is deeply sad, as most of Chausson's mélodies; he used to choose elegiac poems, especially for his last songs (as, for example, Le temps des Lilas, composed a couple of years [...]
My dearest, as I said last week, I'm on holiday. I hope everything works out and you receive this postcard.
You may be surprised to find here Anton Bruckner; He's not a composer we associate with Art Song, but he wrote a few lieder, about twenty, in addition to the symphonies, masses and motets with which we related him.
I have my baggage at the doorstep, but I can't go on holiday without writing a few lines to remember Fritz Wunderlich, this week marks 53 years since his death; there are traditions I like to maintain. I've chosen one of Haydn's Scottish songs that the tenor made a record, my favourite: William and Margaret, Hob. XXVI: 153. Or, in the German version that we're listening, Es weiden meine Schafe.
The rustling of leaves in the wind, the babble of the brook, the crackling of a branch... the forest murmurs are unsettling when we're on alert, but they seem part of an intimate conversation between the forest and us when our mind is at peace and we feel in harmony with our environment; The feeling roughly describes roughly what in German is known as Waldeinsamkeit. Today we're listening to Geheimes Flüstern hier und dort, a Lied by Clara Schumann that tells about this feeling of communion with nature.