for baritone and piano
texts (in German) by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Approximate duration: ca.
The Mannes College of Music, NYC
As a precursor to beginning work on the cycle of Emily Bronte songs that eventually become Songs on the Evening’s Shore, I wrote these four songs to texts of Hugo von Hofmannsthal in the autumn of 1989. My love of Richard Strauss had led me to explore the poems of his erstwhile librettist, and I was immediately struck by Vorfuhling, which I laid out in my head - structure and concept - in one day while on a particularly inactive temp job.
I slated the first performance for the final Student Composers Concert at Mannes in April of 1989. Baritone Will Robinson, whom I knew from chorus the year before, graciously undertook the songs. The brave girl who agreed to tackle the extremely taxing accompaniment was Heather Hamilton, with whom I was very close: we would giggle incessantly in the back of the classes we had together. I think she agreed to undertake this performance out of guilt for having declined to premiere my Nocturne.
There is little unusual to relate of the rehearsals and performance. Both performers labored hard on their material and acquitted themselves nicely.
In hindsight, Berg seems more an influence on these songs than Strauss, except perhaps for the schwärmerei of the final song. For only my second year in conservatory and serious music study, I’m quite proud of these songs.