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Disney's High School Musical Jr. - Broadway Junior Menu LEARN MORE About Broadway Junior What Comes With the Showkit™? How to License a Broadway Junior Musical Order an Audio Sampler Frequently Asked Questions 60-Min.ute Musicals [JR.] 60-Minute Musicals Aladdin Jr. (Disney) Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Disney) Annie Jr. Beauty and the Beast Jr. (Disney) Bugsy Malone Jr. Children Of Eden Jr. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. Dear Edwina Jr. Doctor Dolittle Jr. Elf The Musical Jr. Fame Jr. Fiddler on the Roof Jr. Finian's Rainbow Jr. Flat Stanley Jr. Frozen Jr. A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr. (Magic Tree House) Godspell Jr. Guys and Dolls Jr. Hairspray Jr. High School Musical Jr. (Disney) High School Musical 2 Jr. (Disney) Honk! Jr. Into the Woods Jr. James and the Giant Peach Jr. (Roald Dahl) Junie B. Jones Jr. Legally Blonde Jr. The Lion King Jr. (Disney) The Little Mermaid Jr. (Disney) Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr. Mary Poppins Jr. (Disney/Cameron Mackintosh) The Music Man Jr. My Son Pinocchio Jr. (Disney) Once on This Island Jr. Peter Pan Jr. (Broadway) The Phantom Tollbooth Jr. The Pirates of Penzance Jr. Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. Seussical Jr. Shrek Jr. Singin' In The Rain Jr. Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. Willy Wonka Jr. (Roald Dahl) Xanadu Jr. 30-Min.ute Musicals [KIDS] 30-Minute Musicals 101 Dalmatians KIDS (Disney) Aladdin KIDS (Disney) Annie KIDS Aristocats KIDS (Disney) Cinderella KIDS (Disney) Dinosaurs Before Dark KIDS (Magic Tree House) The Jungle Book KIDS (Disney) The Knight at Dawn KIDS (Magic Tree House) The Lion King KIDS (Disney) The Music Man KIDS Pirates Past Noon KIDS (Magic Tree House) Seussical KIDS Willy Wonka KIDS (Roald Dahl) Winnie the Pooh KIDS (Disney) A Year with Frog and Toad KIDS Product Information Musical Numbers Cast of Characters Credits Book by David Simpatico Songs by Matthew Gerrard & Robbie Nevil; Ray Cham, Greg Cham & Andrew Seeley; Randy Petersen & Kevin Quinn; Andy Dodd & Adam Watts; Bryan Louiselle; David N. Lawrence & Faye Greenberg; Jamie Houston Music Adapted, Arranged and Produced by Bryan Louiselle Based on a Disney Channel Movie Written by Peter Barsocchini Overview / Synopsis One of the biggest pop-culture phenomena in recent memory, High School Musical topped the music charts and broke records within weeks of its 2006 Disney Channel premiere. Follow the antics of East High's most popular student as they come alive on your stage in this fun-tastic, family-friendly show that only Disney can bring you. Get'cha head in the game! Audio Sampler - HL00287703 $10.00 ShowKit - HL00287704 $645.00 This ShowKit includes: 30 Libretto/Vocal Books Piano/Vocal Score Director's Script 2 Performance/Accompaniment CDs Choreography DVD 30 Family Matters Booklets Production Handbook Cross-Curricular Book 60-Minute JR. Request Individual Components 00287697 - Piano/Vocal Score $40.00 00287696 - Director's Guide $100.00 00287694 - Actor's Book (Single) $10.00 00287695 - Actor's Book (10-Pak) $75.00 00287698 - Performance/Accompaniment CD $75.00 00287702 - Media Disc $10.00 00287701 - Choregraphy DVD $50.00 00287699 - Student Rehearsal CD (Single) $10.00 00287700 - Student Rehearsal CD (20-Pak) $100.00 00287703 - Audio Sampler $10.00 Hear A Sample Scene 1 Wildcat Cheer [All] Start of Something New [Troy, Gabriella, All] Scene 4 Get'cha Head in the Game [Troy, Jocks] Get'cha Head in the Game (Playoff) [Troy, Jocks] Scene 7 Auditions (Bop to the Top / What I've Been Looking For) [All] What I've Been Looking For [Ryan, Sharpay] What I've Been Looking For (Reprise) [Troy, Gabriella] Scene 9 Stick to the Status Quo [All] Scene 14 Counting On You [Chad, Taylor, Zeke, Martha, Brainiacs, Jocks] Scene 16 We're All in This Together [All] Scene 17 Bop to the Top [Sharpay, Ryan, Jocks, Brainiacs, All] Breaking Free [Troy, Gabriella, All] Scene 18 We're All in This Together (Reprise) [All] Bows High School Musical Megamix [All] TROY BOLTON Troy Bolton, the most popular kid at East High, is the star of the basketball team who yearns to be more than what people want him to be. Troy discovers he loves to sing, but is afraid to admit it to his friends. Look for a solid young actor who can convey the full range of emotions and character traits Troy Bolton embodies: athletic, independent, sometimes shy, smitten with Gabriella, a true leader. Troy should be your strongest male singer and able to sing from his heart in a naïve yet convincing manner. He should also be able to move like a natural athlete while dancing and singing. JACK SCOTT Jack Scott is the nerdy school announcer who trips over his own feet. Think about casting a student who will make this role his own and can portray a "gift of gab" radio voice. Jack can be quirky in all aspects: looks, dress and comportment. Most importantly, look for a character actor with superior diction and good comic timing. CHAD DANFORTH Chad Danforth is a hot-wired jock, second in command to Troy. He is focused on winning his school's basketball championship, but is slowly understanding that there might be more to this world, including his sparring crush on Taylor. Look for an actor that partners naturally with Troy, is a leader in his own accord, and can handle Chad's couple of solos and large number of acting scenes. RYAN EVANS Ryan Evans is Sharpay's fraternal twin and a star in the making. This character loves singing, dancing and lots of attention. He follows Sharpay's orders, but wants to break free from her shadow. Choose a "triple threat" for this actor: strong singer, dancer and actor. Everything Ryan does is calculated and executed impeccably. It will probably be helpful to audition Ryan and Sharpay in pairs as the success of "Bop to the Top" depends on the duo. ZEKE BAYLOR Zeke Baylor is a basketball player on the Wildcats Team. He has two secrets: a crush on Sharpay and a love for baking! Zeke and Chad are the most prominent of Troy's friends, so look for an actor that can work with them while being able to stand out in his own spotlight, especially when he reveals his secrets! Zeke has solos, so make sure your actor can sing as well as act. COACH BOLTON Coach Bolton is the stern basketball coach and Troy's dad. He lost the big game years ago and wants a second chance through his son. Cast a student that can handle the demands of acting older than almost everyone else in the show. Coach Bolton is primarily an acting role, so focus on finding a student who can convincingly spar with Ms. Darbus. GABRIELLA MONTEZ Gabriella Montez is the new girl in school. Gabriella is intelligent, pretty ("girl next door" type) and shy. She possesses a fantastic voice when she sings with Troy. Look for a girl that can take positive risks with both her acting and singing. She must be able to portray her intelligence and independence and then easily switch over to her shy and vulnerable side. Cast an actress with a strong sense of pitch and the ability to hold her own with a partner in order to make the most of this role. Make sure a portion of your audition is seeing your potential Troys and Gabriellas as a pair. TAYLOR MCKESSIE Taylor McKessie, the head Brainiac of the school, is the president of the Science Club. She wants Gabriella to join the Science Decathlon team so they can finally win the competition. Taylor has a hidden soft spot for Chad, which might be why she is always making fun of him. Cast a girl that can portray Taylor's assertiveness as well as sing a solid solo. SHARPAY EVANS Sharpay Evans is the egocentric star of the school musicals. She is Ryan's older twin (and the alpha dog of the two) and has a mad crush on Troy. Sharpay has never met a mirror she didn't like. Look for someone who can portray a diva and has solid acting chops and strong singing and dancing skills. Sharpay knows how to work a crowd. She is in a good number of scenes, so cast an actress that can handle this sizable role. MARTHA COX Martha Cox is a proud member of the Science Club and is brainy with a secret love of dancing. She has a fun-loving sidekicky personality and becomes an adoring devotee of Gabriella. Cast an actor who is kind and funny. The role has important featured solos but the voice quality is not as important as the character. If you have a student that can show off some crazy brake dancing moves, bravo! Brava! KELSI NIELSEN Kelsi Nielsen is a thespian rehearsal pianist and student composer extraordinaire. Underneath her shy demeanor, Kelsi has no tolerance for people (read: Sharpay) who use their talent only to be number one. Cast an actor who can play the underdog but has the intelligence and ability to shoot the "zingers" at Sharpay with timing and accuracy. She must be coached to look like a pianist as she continually accompanies onstage. Kelsi has a small solo in "We're All in This Together," but it is secondary to her acting importance. The "group hug" with Troy and Gabriella has unbeatable charm if you cast a student who is smaller than the other two. MS. DARBUS Ms. Darbus is the eccentric drama teacher. She is an amusing blend of Gertrude Stein and Ethel Merman. Passionate and disciplined, she is always trying to expose students to the enrichment and fun of theatre. Cast an actress who knows how to milk every word, phrase and gesture for this role. She must make her eccentricities appear second nature. Ms. Darbus's acting skills and timing should be topnotch; her singing voice is secondary as she has no solos. Ms. Darbus exudes wacky, yet it doesn't detract from her true love of theatre and her students. ENSEMBLE The ensemble makes up all the other characters who populate East High School: Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians, Skater Dudes, Cheerleaders, Ms. Tenny, Science Decathlon Moderator, etc., with a few featured solo parts further described below. The ensemble is present throughout the show and provides the vocal power for the group numbers. These roles vary in size and in vocal, acting and dance requirements, so you can cast performers with a wide range of abilities. The ensemble participates in several self-contained numbers, which provide great opportunities to use groups of students that can rehearse together. (For example, the sixthgrade chorus in one number, the seventh-grade classes in another, etc.) Don't be afraid to mix your age groups here. Look for students whose enthusiasm and ability to take direction can allow your ensemble to look like a perfect representation of your school and community. RIPPER Ripper is a cool skater dude who is, lo and behold, a cello player! Cast a student who can sell this fun "double personality" with one short but sweet air cello solo!   In the big Audition scene, JAMES is the auditionee who sings so badly off key it would scare anyone! Cast a person who can confidently sound bad... this can be a challenge for a good musician. SUSAN is the "pop star wanna be" audition candidate. Cast someone who is not afraid to go over-the-top with this short yet humorous part. CATHY is the auditionee who can belt like Ethel Merman! Cast a student that can fill the auditorium with her voice. It doesn't need to be pretty! CYNDRA is the final auditionee and she sounds like an opera audition for the Met. If you have a young singer that can imitate an obnoxious vibrato in a serious manner, there's your perfect choice!
Disney's High School Musical 2 Jr. - Broadway Junior Menu LEARN MORE About Broadway Junior What Comes With the Showkit™? How to License a Broadway Junior Musical Order an Audio Sampler Frequently Asked Questions 60-Min.ute Musicals [JR.] 60-Minute Musicals Aladdin Jr. (Disney) Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Disney) Annie Jr. Beauty and the Beast Jr. (Disney) Bugsy Malone Jr. Children Of Eden Jr. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Jr. Dear Edwina Jr. Doctor Dolittle Jr. Elf The Musical Jr. Fame Jr. Fiddler on the Roof Jr. Finian's Rainbow Jr. Flat Stanley Jr. Frozen Jr. A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr. (Magic Tree House) Godspell Jr. Guys and Dolls Jr. Hairspray Jr. High School Musical Jr. (Disney) High School Musical 2 Jr. (Disney) Honk! Jr. Into the Woods Jr. James and the Giant Peach Jr. (Roald Dahl) Junie B. Jones Jr. Legally Blonde Jr. The Lion King Jr. (Disney) The Little Mermaid Jr. (Disney) Madagascar - A Musical Adventure Jr. Mary Poppins Jr. (Disney/Cameron Mackintosh) The Music Man Jr. My Son Pinocchio Jr. (Disney) Once on This Island Jr. Peter Pan Jr. (Broadway) The Phantom Tollbooth Jr. The Pirates of Penzance Jr. Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. Seussical Jr. Shrek Jr. Singin' In The Rain Jr. Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. Willy Wonka Jr. (Roald Dahl) Xanadu Jr. 30-Min.ute Musicals [KIDS] 30-Minute Musicals 101 Dalmatians KIDS (Disney) Aladdin KIDS (Disney) Annie KIDS Aristocats KIDS (Disney) Cinderella KIDS (Disney) Dinosaurs Before Dark KIDS (Magic Tree House) The Jungle Book KIDS (Disney) The Knight at Dawn KIDS (Magic Tree House) The Lion King KIDS (Disney) The Music Man KIDS Pirates Past Noon KIDS (Magic Tree House) Seussical KIDS Willy Wonka KIDS (Roald Dahl) Winnie the Pooh KIDS (Disney) A Year with Frog and Toad KIDS Product Information Musical Numbers Cast of Characters Credits Book by David Simpatico Songs by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil and David N. Lawrence and Faye Greenberg and Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn and Jamie Houston and Andy Dodd and Adam Watts Music Adapted, Arranged and Produced by Bryan Louiselle Based on the Disney Channel Original Movie written by Peter Barsocchini Overview / Synopsis Disney Channel's smash hit musical comes to life on your stage! The gang's all here for an action-packed summer extravaganza as Troy, Gabriella and the rest of the Wildcats finish junior year and blast onto the summer scene. At the Lava Springs Country Club, Sharpay reigns supreme while the Wildcats get to work - literally! Keeping every ounce of the light-hearted fun that makes High School Musical a household name, this buoyant sequel takes on the questions of real kids facing the realities of the adult world. Friendships are tested, summer romances go haywire, and the meaning of success is redefined. Growing with the characters, HSM2 doesn't miss one fabulous beat as the kids from East High get a taste of what it means to grow up. Rockin' songs, action-packed dance numbers, and ample opportunities to highlight a strong ensemble make this an ideal show for young actors. Jump into pool with the Wildcats as you swim along with this crowd-pleasing, fun-filled charmer. Audio Sampler - HL08750665 $10.00 ShowKit - HL09971343 $550.00 This ShowKit includes: 30 Libretto/Vocal Books Piano/Vocal Score Director's Script 2 Performance/Accompaniment CDs Choreography DVD 30 Family Matters Booklets Production Handbook Cross-Curricular Book 60-Minute JR. Request Individual Components 09971344 - Piano/Vocal Score $40.00 09971345 - Director's Script $50.00 09971346 - Libretto/Vocal Book $10.00 09971347 - Libretto/Vocal Book 10 Pak $75.00 09971348 - Performance/Accompaniment CD $75.00 09971349 - Choreography DVD $50.00 09971351 - Student Rehearsal CD $10.00 09971352 - Student Rehearsal CD 20 Pak $100.00 08750665 - Audio Sampler $10.00 Hear A Sample Scene 1 What Time Is It [All] What Time Is It (Reprise) [All] Scene 2 Fabulous [Sharpay, Ryan, Sharpettes, Poolboys, All] What Time Is It (Wildcats Exit) [Chad, All] Scene 3 Transition: To Kitchen [Wildcats] Work This Out [Chad, Taylor, Jack, Scott, Kelsi, Martha, Zeke, Girls, Troy, Gabriella, All] Scene 5 You Are the Music in Me (Pt. 1 and 2) [Kelsi] You Are the Music in Me (Pt. 3) [Kelsi, Gabriella, Troy, Taylor, Chad, Kelsi, Jack, Zeke, Martha, All] Scene 7 Fabulous (Troy's Transformation) [Sharpay, Ryan, Ensemble] Scene 8 Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Pt. 1) [Kelsi, All] Humuhumunukunukuapua'a (Pt. 2) [Guys, Girls, Sharpay, Ryan] Scene 9 You Are the Music in Me (Rock Version) [Sharpay, Sharpettes, Troy] You Are the Music in Me (Tag) [Troy, Sharpay, Sharpettes] Scene 11 I Don't Dance [Ryan, Chad, Wildcats] Scene 12 "Every Day" Rehearsal (Pt. 1, 2 and 3) [All] Scene 13 Fabulous (Sharpay's Triumph) [Sharpettes, Sharpay] Gotta Go My Own Way [Gabriella, Troy] Scene 14 Talent Show 4: Theresa Templeton Every Day [Troy,Chad] Scene 15 Every Day [All] All For One (Finale) [All] High School Musical 2 Megamix (Bows) [All] TROY BOLTON Troy Bolton is the most popular kid at East High, the star of the basketball team and Gabriella's boyfriend. Troy is in a tough place this summer - he needs to make as much money as possible in order to afford college. When a scholarship opportunity arises, he does everything he can to make it happen. Look for a solid young actor who can convey the full range of Troy's emotions and character traits: independent, driven, athletic, yet smitten with Gabriella. Troy should be one of your strongest male singers. CHAD DANFORTH Chad Danforth is a jock and Troy's best friend. He and Taylor share a special bond, but he is good friends with all the Wildcats. As Troy gets wrapped up in his scholarship world, Chad becomes concerned about the person Troy is becoming. Cast an actor/singer that partners naturally with Troy, is a leader of his own accord, and can handle Chad's large solo numbers as well as his acting challenges. JACK SCOTT Jack Scott is the school announcer who is confident and suave behind the microphone, but not so sure of himself when he isn't. He has a great friendship with Kelsi and they bring out the best in each other. Try casting a student who will enjoy making this quirky role his own, and can portray a "gift of gab" radio voice. Look for a character actor with superior diction, good comic timing, and a pleasant singing voice. RYAN EVANS Ryan Evans is Sharpay's barely younger twin and a true star. He loves singing and dancing, and is learning to be his own person outside of Sharpay's shadow. He wants what's best for his sister but is having a hard time dealing with her ego. Everything Ryan does is executed to the extreme and usually with enthusiasm. You want to find an actor who is a "triple threat" for this character: strong singer, dancer and actor. ZEKE BAYLOR Zeke Baylor is a basketball player and good friend of Troy and Chad. His love of baking is matched only by his crush on Sharpay. Find an actor who works well as part of a team, but is able stand out in his own, especially when revealing his feelings for baking and Sharpay. Zeke has a number of solos, so make sure your actor can sing as well as act. GABRIELLA MONTEZ Gabriella Montez is an intelligent, charming girl who is loved by everyone... except Sharpay. She is dating Troy and can't wait to spend the summer with him at Lava Springs. Gabriella is a strong, loyal character who sticks up for her beliefs. Cast a young woman who is a solid singer and actor and can portray intelligence and independence. If you have time, pair up your potential Troys and Gabriellas at your audition to see how each pair works together. TAYLOR MCKESSIE Taylor McKessie is Gabriella's best friend who has started hanging out with Chad more often. She is organized and intelligent and doesn't like to see people take advantage of her friends, namely Gabriella. Find a young woman who can sing and can portray Taylor's assertiveness and brains. SHARPAY EVANS Sharpay Evans is the egocentric daughter of the Lava Springs owner and barely older twin sister of Ryan. She does everything she can to get what she wants, particularly Troy Bolton. Find an actress who can portray different sides of being a diva so Sharpay doesn't come off as a one-note caricature. Make sure your Sharpay has solid acting, singing and dancing skills as she carries many scenes. MARTHA COX Martha Cox is the fun-loving, big-personality girl of the group. She loves to dance, specifically hip-hop. Cast an actress who understands comic timing and enjoys being overthe- top. The role does have solo singing lines, but the vocal quality is not as important as the character. KELSI NIELSEN Kelsi Nielsen is an up-and-coming theatre composer who struggles with how to further her career. Cast an actor who can blend into the background while having the intelligence and ability to shoot the "zingers" at Sharpay with timing and accuracy. You should also coach your actress to look like a pianist as she "accompanies" the songs onstage. Kelsi has solos throughout the show. BLOSSOM, VIOLET and PEACHES Blossom, Violet and Peaches are the Sharpettes, Sharpay's debutante gal pals. They are bubbly, excitable and will back Sharpay up in all her endeavors. The Sharpettes should be good singers and dancers who exude lots of focused energy onstage. Feel free to cast more than three Sharpettes. Use the following names for the additional girls: Jasmine, Lily, Ruby, Beneatha, Orchid, Susan, Lindsay, Colleen. FULTON Fulton is the efficient club manager of Lava Springs. When it comes to the Wildcats, he doesn't have difficulty being in charge, but Sharpay is a different story. He is overly concerned with pleasing the daughter of the country club's owner. It isn't until Sharpay pushes him too far that Fulton is able to stand up to her. Find an actor with excellent comic timing for this role. While he does sing with the ensemble in a few songs, his solo lines are to be spoken, so acting skills should be the priority. ENSEMBLE The Ensemble makes up the other characters who populate Lava Springs Country Club. Some have small featured roles: pool boys, hairdressers, tailors, dermatologists. Other members of the ensemble work primarily as specific groups: the Wildcats, Lava Springs employees, Waiters, etc. These roles vary in size and in vocal, acting and dance requirements, so cast performers with a wide range of abilities. The ensemble participates in several self-contained numbers, which provide great opportunities to use groups of students that can rehearse together. (For example, the sixth-grade chorus in one number, the seventh-grade classes in another, etc.) Look for students with enthusiasm and the ability to take direction, and students that let your ensemble look like a perfect representation of your school and community.
Reader Testimonials Reader Testimonials Music Express is making my life easier and making the concepts more accessible to the students. THANK YOU, MUSIC EXPRESS! Lori Simmons - New River Elementary, New River, AZ Music Express keeps all our batteries charged full. I look forward to each new issue. Sometimes I don-t know who is more excited, my students or me! Sue Berry - Smith Road Elementary, Temperance, MI I love the CDs. The quality of recordings are excellent, a real plus to teaching. Jenice Rosen - Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, CA I love the fact that the choreography can be found on your website. Ghislaine Stewart - Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Binghamton, NY I love this magazine! In our school, where the budget is so tight, it helps with my general music classes as well as my choral program. Keep up the good work! Cyndi Crowder - Col. Wm. Casey Elementary School, Columbia, KY Music Express is an exceptional value, exceptional quality, thorough and creative-a real pick-me-up for any teacher. This is the most helpful contribution to music resources in my 32 years of teaching. Julie Warren - Redondo Elementary, Homestead, FL I have sung your praises since the moment I started using it. Thank you for providing something I have been looking for my entire career-a season-by-season, moment-by-moment, up-to-date tool to use to share the awesome world of music to my students. Cindy Wilkerson - Springmore Elementary, Shelby, NC Thank you for sending the Music Express magazine. I love "Music Explosion." You are the best, John Jacobson. Music is everything to me. Jonathon L., Grade 4 - Bel Air School, Minot, ND, Sue Ellen Johnson, Music Teacher Music Express rocks! Lauren J., Grade 5, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Pleasant Hill, IL, Sue Coldwell, Music Teacher This is the best supplemental resource for the elementary music classroom that I-ve ever worked with! Linda Holcombe - Highlands Ranch, CO Music Express has rejuvenated my teaching and my classroom. After 28 years of teaching, it is a delight to walk into school and use such fresh, innovative, high quality material. My students love it! Eileen DiRaddo - Camp Hill, PA I have a wonderful time singing and dancing with Music Express. I hope that other kids in the country get to have the same experience. Jenny D., Grade 6 - Springfield, IL Music Express has brought a spark back to my teaching. These are fresh ideas that really encourage me. Thank you for the wonderful opportunities Music Express gives our children. Cynthia Jones - Watterson Elementary, Louisville, KY I love the fact that the lesson plans are there for me! Easy to do and follow. DeAnna Guzman - East Indianola Elementary, Topeka, KA Every month my elementary students look forward to using the magazines. One little fellow calls them the -Music Explosion- books! Catherine Truesdale - Canterbury School, Fort Meyers, FL Music Express magazine is a wonderful tool to help teach young students. The great songs and colored illustrations along with the listening lessons and CD make this a fantastic music magazine! Donna Randall - Meadows Upper Elementary, Rochester, MI I don-t know how I survived my first three years of teaching without Music Express! The magazine provides great lessons and activities that can either stand alone or supplement things we are already doing in class. Rebecca Well - Grant Elementary, Ridgefield Park, NJ I LOVE the music, CD articles, information about warm-ups, K-1-2 activities- everything! This is my personal teaching style. I can-t believe there is a magazine to supplement my program so well! Dianne Borth - Gardner Elementary, Olathe, KS I really like the idea of something to put in the hands of the children that is so colorful and appealing to them. Ingrid Wingate - R.B. Wright Elementary, Moultrie, GA I teach K-5th grade in four buildings and in many rooms. Textbooks are too heavy to move from room to room, but I can use the magazines in many locations! Karen McCausland - Edgarton Elementary School, Newfield, NJ I love that the lessons are aligned with the National Standards and are laid out so well. Margaret Lott - Suttons Bay elementary, Suttons Bay, MI What a wonderful teacher resource! Each issue is truly inspirational, instructional and a gentle reminder to anyone who might be drooping why we love children and our truly noble profession! Keep it coming! Rebecca Arnold - Mansfield, OH Hal Leonard Online - Reader Testimonials Reader Testimonials Music Express is making my life easier and making the concepts more accessible to the students. THANK YOU, MUSIC EXPRESS! Lori Simmons - New River Elementary, New River, AZ Music Express keeps all our batteries charged full. I look forward to each new issue. Sometimes I don-t know who is more excited, my students or me! Sue Berry - Smith Road Elementary, Temperance, MI I love the CDs. The quality of recordings are excellent, a real plus to teaching. Jenice Rosen - Sierra Canyon School, Chatsworth, CA I love the fact that the choreography can be found on your website. Ghislaine Stewart - Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, Binghamton, NY I love this magazine! In our school, where the budget is so tight, it helps with my general music classes as well as my choral program. Keep up the good work! Cyndi Crowder - Col. Wm. Casey Elementary School, Columbia, KY Music Express is an exceptional value, exceptional quality, thorough and creative-a real pick-me-up for any teacher. This is the most helpful contribution to music resources in my 32 years of teaching. Julie Warren - Redondo Elementary, Homestead, FL I have sung your praises since the moment I started using it. Thank you for providing something I have been looking for my entire career-a season-by-season, moment-by-moment, up-to-date tool to use to share the awesome world of music to my students. Cindy Wilkerson - Springmore Elementary, Shelby, NC Thank you for sending the Music Express magazine. I love "Music Explosion." You are the best, John Jacobson. Music is everything to me. Jonathon L., Grade 4 - Bel Air School, Minot, ND, Sue Ellen Johnson, Music Teacher Music Express rocks! Lauren J., Grade 5, Pleasant Hill Elementary, Pleasant Hill, IL, Sue Coldwell, Music Teacher This is the best supplemental resource for the elementary music classroom that I-ve ever worked with! Linda Holcombe - Highlands Ranch, CO Music Express has rejuvenated my teaching and my classroom. After 28 years of teaching, it is a delight to walk into school and use such fresh, innovative, high quality material. My students love it! Eileen DiRaddo - Camp Hill, PA I have a wonderful time singing and dancing with Music Express. I hope that other kids in the country get to have the same experience. Jenny D., Grade 6 - Springfield, IL Music Express has brought a spark back to my teaching. These are fresh ideas that really encourage me. Thank you for the wonderful opportunities Music Express gives our children. Cynthia Jones - Watterson Elementary, Louisville, KY I love the fact that the lesson plans are there for me! Easy to do and follow. DeAnna Guzman - East Indianola Elementary, Topeka, KA Every month my elementary students look forward to using the magazines. One little fellow calls them the -Music Explosion- books! Catherine Truesdale - Canterbury School, Fort Meyers, FL Music Express magazine is a wonderful tool to help teach young students. The great songs and colored illustrations along with the listening lessons and CD make this a fantastic music magazine! Donna Randall - Meadows Upper Elementary, Rochester, MI I don-t know how I survived my first three years of teaching without Music Express! The magazine provides great lessons and activities that can either stand alone or supplement things we are already doing in class. Rebecca Well - Grant Elementary, Ridgefield Park, NJ I LOVE the music, CD articles, information about warm-ups, K-1-2 activities- everything! This is my personal teaching style. I can-t believe there is a magazine to supplement my program so well! Dianne Borth - Gardner Elementary, Olathe, KS I really like the idea of something to put in the hands of the children that is so colorful and appealing to them. Ingrid Wingate - R.B. Wright Elementary, Moultrie, GA I teach K-5th grade in four buildings and in many rooms. Textbooks are too heavy to move from room to room, but I can use the magazines in many locations! Karen McCausland - Edgarton Elementary School, Newfield, NJ I love that the lessons are aligned with the National Standards and are laid out so well. Margaret Lott - Suttons Bay elementary, Suttons Bay, MI What a wonderful teacher resource! Each issue is truly inspirational, instructional and a gentle reminder to anyone who might be drooping why we love children and our truly noble profession! Keep it coming! Rebecca Arnold - Mansfield, OH
Little Drummer Holiday Hal Leonard Online HAL LEONARD PRESENTS "THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY" BY MISFIT ISLAND Hal Leonard sends warm holiday wishes to all! Please view this holiday video comprised of members from our stellar Hal Leonard sales team, playing instruments and using microphones and other products available from Hal Leonard. All the incredible gear used in making this video is listed below for your ordering convenience (Music Retailers - please note that these links lead to product pages on Hal Leonard online; to place an order through your retail account, please order through our Dealer Access website) CREDITS Vocals: Chrissy Dzioba, Tim Wright, Brian Swinehart, Andrew Riehle Bass: Peter Carlson, Scott Brooks Guitar: Tim Wright, Chrissy Dzioba Drums: Joe Howard, Tyler Bartelt Music Director: Joe Howard Engineer and Producer: Andrew Riehle Executive Producer and provider of Pizza: Brad Smith Drums Gretsch - Renown Series 4-Piece Drum Set (20/10/12/14sn - Satin Tobacco Burst Finish) - HL00775873 - MSRP $2,133.99 - MAP $1,279.99 Gretsch - 8x14 "Swamp Dawg" Mahogany Snare Drum - HL00776430 - MRSP $666.99 - MAP $399.99 Gibraltar - 5700 Series Hardware Pack with 33" Rolling Bag - HL00776527 - $750.99 Tycoon - 4-Row Sleigh Bells - HL00755637 - $49.00 CB Percussion - 25-Note Chrome Bells with Case (Model 6854) - HL00777148 - $149.99 Vater Percussion - Los Angeles 5A Wood Drum Sticks - HL00242937 - $15.99 Guitars, Amps and Pedals Line 6 - Variax Standard (Standard Electric Guitar with Tobacco Burst Finish) - HL00142936 - MSRP $1099.99 - MAP $899.99 (white and black finishes also available) Line 6 - DT25 (1x12 Extension Guitar Speaker Cabinet) - HL00122947 - MSRP $419.99 - MAP $299.99 Hartke - TX600 (Class D Bass Amplifier) - HL00172587 - MSRP $519.99 - MAP $399.99 Hartke - HyDrive HD410 (4 x 10 + HF/1000 Watt Bass Cabinet) - HL00242613 - MSRP $949.99 - MAP $699.99 Line 6 - Relay G10 (Plug and Play Digital Guitar Wireless System) - HL00156361 - MSRP $249.99 - MAP $179.99 Walrus Audio - Julia (Chorus/Vibrato Guitar Pedal) - HL00251353 - MSRP/MAP $199.00 Morley Pedals - Pro Series II Distortion (Wah/Volume Combination Pedal) - HL00242658 - MSRP/MAP $136.00 Microphones Blue Microphones - Baby Bottle SL (Studio Microphone; used for male vocals) - HL00214949 - MSRP/MAP $399.00 MXL - CR89 (Black Chrome Condenser Mic; used for female vocals) - HL00141152 - MSRP $469.95 - MAP $349.95 Blue Microphones - enCORE 200 (Dynamic Mic with Black Grill; used for bass cab) - HL00211520 - MSRP/MAP $149.00 MXL - DX-2 (Variable Dynamic Instrument Microphone; used for electric guitar cab) - HL00191990 - MSRP $219.95 - MAP $99.95 Samson - DK705 (5-Piece Drum Mic Kit; used for kick and toms) - HL00211506 - MSRP $279.99 - MAP $199.99 Solomon Mics - LoFReQ (Low Frequency Microphone - Black; used for kick) - HL00152226 - MSRP $249.99 - MAP $199.99 Blue Microphones - Hummingbird (Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone; used for overhead) - HL00145531 - MSRP/MAP $299.99 Headphones Blue Microphones - Lola (Sealed Over-Ear High Fidelity Headphones - black) - HL00154866 - MSRP/MAP $249.99 Blue Microphones - Lola (Sealed Over-Ear High Fidelity Headphones - white) - HL00154867 - MSRP/MAP $249.99 Blue Microphones - Sadie (Premium Headphones with Built-In Amp) - HL00233516 - MSRP/MAP $399.99 Blue Microphones - Ella (Planar Magnetic Headphone with Built-in Audiophile Amp) - HL00233539 - MSRP/MAP $699.99 Ultimate Ears (UE) - Sound Tap Personal Monitoring System - HL00242597 - MSRP/MAP $249.00 Accessories SwirlyGig - The SwirlyGig II Drink Holder for 1" Tubing - HL00123399 - $14.99 SwirlyGig - The SwirlyHook II for 1" Tubing (Headphone Holder) - HL00149753 - $11.99 Samson - BT4 Telescoping Boom Stand - HL00140126 - $124.99 AirTurn - goSTAND Portable Mic Stand - HL00141979 - MSRP/MAP $49.00 Gibraltar - Soft Nylon Stick Holder (Model SC-SH) - HL00776260 - $34.99 Gibraltar - Oversized Motorcycle Seat with Adjustable Backrest (Model 9608MB) - HL00776615 - $334.99 HAL LEONARD PRESENTS "THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY" BY MISFIT ISLAND Hal Leonard sends warm holiday wishes to all! Please view this holiday video comprised of members from our stellar Hal Leonard sales team, playing instruments and using microphones and other products available from Hal Leonard. All the incredible gear used in making this video is listed below for your ordering convenience (Music Retailers - please note that these links lead to product pages on Hal Leonard online; to place an order through your retail account, please order through our Dealer Access website) CREDITS Vocals: Chrissy Dzioba, Tim Wright, Brian Swinehart, Andrew Riehle Bass: Peter Carlson, Scott Brooks Guitar: Tim Wright, Chrissy Dzioba Drums: Joe Howard, Tyler Bartelt Music Director: Joe Howard Engineer and Producer: Andrew Riehle Executive Producer and provider of Pizza: Brad Smith Drums Gretsch - Renown Series 4-Piece Drum Set (20/10/12/14sn - Satin Tobacco Burst Finish) - HL00775873 - MSRP $2,133.99 - MAP $1,279.99 Gretsch - 8x14 "Swamp Dawg" Mahogany Snare Drum - HL00776430 - MRSP $666.99 - MAP $399.99 Gibraltar - 5700 Series Hardware Pack with 33" Rolling Bag - HL00776527 - $750.99 Tycoon - 4-Row Sleigh Bells - HL00755637 - $49.00 CB Percussion - 25-Note Chrome Bells with Case (Model 6854) - HL00777148 - $149.99 Vater Percussion - Los Angeles 5A Wood Drum Sticks - HL00242937 - $15.99 Guitars, Amps and Pedals Line 6 - Variax Standard (Standard Electric Guitar with Tobacco Burst Finish) - HL00142936 - MSRP $1099.99 - MAP $899.99 (white and black finishes also available) Line 6 - DT25 (1x12 Extension Guitar Speaker Cabinet) - HL00122947 - MSRP $419.99 - MAP $299.99 Hartke - TX600 (Class D Bass Amplifier) - HL00172587 - MSRP $519.99 - MAP $399.99 Hartke - HyDrive HD410 (4 x 10 + HF/1000 Watt Bass Cabinet) - HL00242613 - MSRP $949.99 - MAP $699.99 Line 6 - Relay G10 (Plug and Play Digital Guitar Wireless System) - HL00156361 - MSRP $249.99 - MAP $179.99 Walrus Audio - Julia (Chorus/Vibrato Guitar Pedal) - HL00251353 - MSRP/MAP $199.00 Morley Pedals - Pro Series II Distortion (Wah/Volume Combination Pedal) - HL00242658 - MSRP/MAP $136.00 Microphones Blue Microphones - Baby Bottle SL (Studio Microphone; used for male vocals) - HL00214949 - MSRP/MAP $399.00 MXL - CR89 (Black Chrome Condenser Mic; used for female vocals) - HL00141152 - MSRP $469.95 - MAP $349.95 Blue Microphones - enCORE 200 (Dynamic Mic with Black Grill; used for bass cab) - HL00211520 - MSRP/MAP $149.00 MXL - DX-2 (Variable Dynamic Instrument Microphone; used for electric guitar cab) - HL00191990 - MSRP $219.95 - MAP $99.95 Samson - DK705 (5-Piece Drum Mic Kit; used for kick and toms) - HL00211506 - MSRP $279.99 - MAP $199.99 Solomon Mics - LoFReQ (Low Frequency Microphone - Black; used for kick) - HL00152226 - MSRP $249.99 - MAP $199.99 Blue Microphones - Hummingbird (Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone; used for overhead) - HL00145531 - MSRP/MAP $299.99 Headphones Blue Microphones - Lola (Sealed Over-Ear High Fidelity Headphones - black) - HL00154866 - MSRP/MAP $249.99 Blue Microphones - Lola (Sealed Over-Ear High Fidelity Headphones - white) - HL00154867 - MSRP/MAP $249.99 Blue Microphones - Sadie (Premium Headphones with Built-In Amp) - HL00233516 - MSRP/MAP $399.99 Blue Microphones - Ella (Planar Magnetic Headphone with Built-in Audiophile Amp) - HL00233539 - MSRP/MAP $699.99 Ultimate Ears (UE) - Sound Tap Personal Monitoring System - HL00242597 - MSRP/MAP $249.00 Accessories SwirlyGig - The SwirlyGig II Drink Holder for 1" Tubing - HL00123399 - $14.99 SwirlyGig - The SwirlyHook II for 1" Tubing (Headphone Holder) - HL00149753 - $11.99 Samson - BT4 Telescoping Boom Stand - HL00140126 - $124.99 AirTurn - goSTAND Portable Mic Stand - HL00141979 - MSRP/MAP $49.00 Gibraltar - Soft Nylon Stick Holder (Model SC-SH) - HL00776260 - $34.99 Gibraltar - Oversized Motorcycle Seat with Adjustable Backrest (Model 9608MB) - HL00776615 - $334.99
20th Century French Art Songs Hal Leonard Online - French Art Songs 20th CENTURY FRENCH ART SONGS Mélodies française du XXe siècle Edited by Carol Kimball Published by Éditions Durand DF 16250/HL 50565798 High Voice edition DF 16251/HL 50565799 Medium/Low Voice edition Distributed in Europe and Asia by Hal Leonard MGB Distributed in North and South America by Hal Leonard Distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Hal Leonard Australia Download & Print Introductory Notes Complete Online Introductory Notes, Unabridged copyright © 2015 Editions Durand An abridged version of editor Carol Kimball’s “Introduction” appears in the High Voice and Medium/Low Voice publications. Her complete length “Introduction” appears below. See the publications for the poetry texts in French and translations in English. GEORGES AURIC CLAUDE DEBUSSY HENRI DUTILLEUX GABRIEL FAURÉ REYNALDO HAHN ARTHUR HONEGGER JACQUES LEGUERNEY OLIVIER MESSIAEN DARIUS MILHAUD FRANCIS POULENC MAURICE RAVEL ALBERT ROUSSEL ERIK SATIE DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC GEORGES AURIC (1899-1983) George Auric was something of a child prodigy, performing a piano recital at the Musicale Indépendante at the age of fourteen. The following year, the Société Nationale de Musique performed several songs he had composed. He studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire with Georges Caussade, and later with Vincent d’Indy and Albert Roussel at the Schola Cantorum de Paris. Before he was twenty, Auric had orchestrated and written incidental music for several stage productions and ballets. He composed a significant amount of avant-garde music during the years between 1910-20. Around 1914, he widened his acquaintances to include members of Les Six, a group of composers informally associated with Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau, and became a part of their group. Auric and Francis Poulenc became fast friends and remained so for life. Music criticism was an important part of Auric’s career; his writing focused on promoting the ideals of Les Six and Cocteau. He was also especially known for his film scores, which are consistently imaginative. He forged a major career in the English movies of the 1940s and ’50s. Among his most well-known scores is the music for the film Moulin Rouge. Other popular film titles with scores by Auric include The Lavender Hill Mob, Roman Holiday, Beauty and the Beast, and Bonjour Tristesse. In 1962 he became the director of the Opéra National de Paris and later, chairman of SACEM, the French Performing Rights Society. Auric continued to write classical chamber music until his death. Le Jeune sanguine (1940) from Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin poem by Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969) This mélodie is the second song in Auric’s cycle titled Trois poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin. Vilmorin’s poetry reverberates with sensitivity to affairs of the heart. She was one of Poulenc’s preferred poets; he set her poetry when writing specifically for the female voice, such as in Fiançailles pour rire. A sort of veiled humor is at the heart of this text that describes a young hussy whose lover departs early with the dawn’s first light, leaving her weeping disconsolately. Auric provides a prelude and postlude for formal balance as the miserable young woman mourns her loss. He also inserts several unexpected and amusing measures of a tango as the young man arches his back and leaves the sound of her sobbing. For his three Vilmorin songs, Auric used the style of a chansonette, or more popular song. Printemps (1935) Poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Auric composed this lilting waltz song for a play by Edouard Bourdet titled La Reine Margot (1935). The celebrated musical theatre actress-singer Yvonne Printemps created the role of Queen Margot of Navarre at Théâtre de la Michodière. Auric and Francis Poulenc collaborated on the incidental music for this play; Poulenc took the second act, Auric the first. Poulenc composed the Suite française and the song “A sa guitare”; Auric’s contribution was “Printemps.” Yvonne Printemps sang both songs in the play. Both composers used texts by Pierre de Ronsard, and the musical style of each is reminiscent of the Renaissance. Ronsard’s original poem had twenty-three stanzas. Auric set only the first three. BACK TO TOP CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Claude Debussy wrote expertly for the voice and was acutely responsive to transforming poetic nuance into musical expression. Possibly no other French composer was as attuned to blending poetry and music. His literary taste was highly refined and he maintained a visible and active role in the literary and artistic circles of his time. He chose to set poetry of his contemporaries, notably Verlaine and Mallarmé. Verlaine’s verse with its inherent musical qualities, provided Debussy with poetry for numerous works. For Debussy, poetry as poetry was the paramount determinant of the musical texture. His ability to detect the essence of a poem and perfectly transform it into musical expression makes his mélodies unique in the history of French song. Le promenoir des deux amants (1904, 1910) poems by Tristan l’Hermite (c. 1601-1656) “Auprès de cette grotte sombre,” the first song, made its first appearance with the title “La Grotte,” song two of Trois chansons de France of 1904. In 1910, it was retitled and combined with two other poems by Tristan l’Hermite (“Crois mon conseil, chère Climène” and “Je tremble en voyant ton visage”) to form the miniature cycle Le Promenoir de deux amants, which has been called the finest of all Debussy’s works for voice and piano. It is also the least-often performed. Debussy chose the texts from Les Amours de Tristan, a collection by the seventeenth-century poet Tristan l’Hermite. The poems are set close to a grotto, secluded and silent. The transparent, barely stirring waters mingle with the silence of the cloistered spot, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Debussy establishes an intimate, tender mood immediately and maintains this fragile mix of sound and color throughout the three mélodies. The interplay of resonance and texture in voice and piano results in an exquisite blend of light and shade, perfectly complementing l’Hermite’s poetic images. Subtly inflected vocal phrases are key to recreating the infinite calm and Pelléas-like atmosphere of the poetry, a perfect fusion of stillness and sensuality. Fêtes galantes II (1904) poems by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) Debussy’s fascination with the work of the French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine resulted in his setting to music no fewer than seventeen of Verlaine’s texts. He composed two sets of three songs each, both titled Fêtes galantes, the first in 1892, and the second in 1904. Fêtes galantes II, Debussy’s last setting of Verlaine, closely following the composition of his opera Pélleas et Mélisande, is representative of the composer’s mature vocal works. It is marked by sparser textures, freer tonalities and a more concentrated compositional style than the first set; but like the first set, Fêtes galantes II presents three unrelated songs. None of the Watteau-like scenes are found here; rather, these three poems are filled with mystery, and are without sentimentality. The theme of time appears in each of the poems: the first, sentimental youthful remembrances; the second, inexorable fleeting time; and finally in the last song, time never to be reclaimed. “Les Ingénus” recalls the first awakenings of sexual attraction, and deals with the breathless awe with which a group of unsophisticated young men of the mid-nineteenth century view their similarly naïve female companions. The scene unfolds in a highly chromatic texture, skillfully balanced to preserve the delicate, poignant images in Verlaine’s verse. Debussy’s free-floating harmonies are carefully contrived to complement the uncertain emotions and repressed sensations of the youths in the poem. “Le Faune” begins with a prelude; time unravels in an inflexible dance featuring a rhythmic, hypnotic figure in the piano, imaging the traditional reed pipe and “tambourin,” a small drum played with a stick. The old terra-cotta statue in Verlaine’s poem is probably the woodland god Pan, playing a monotonous rhythm that is both sensual and slightly menacing, matching the mood of the two mélancolique pélerins. Mesmerized by the repetitive rhythms of drum and reed flute, the dejected travelers are caught in the whirlpool of passing time, which spins past as they watch helplessly. “Colloque sentimental.” Colloquial (colloque) refers to ordinary speech or conversation. This disturbing poem is the touchstone of one of Debussy’s great mélodies. It is the last poem in Verlaine’s collection titled Fêtes galantes, and provides a chilling climax. It blends themes of despair, death and disillusion. In this extraordinary song, the ghosts of two lovers meet in a wintry park. As they speak of their former love, their words match the setting: glacial and detached from feeling. Throughout the song their wintry words are enhanced by Debussy’s simple and subtle vocal treatment: one voice urgent and persistent, the other stonily indifferent. Debussy’s manipulation of musical texture between voice and piano is masterful. The sparse vocal lines are almost speech-like, and the piano figures mirror the frozen landscape in which this conversation–equally cold–takes place. The song’s kinship to Debussy’s opera Pélleas et Mélisande is unmistakable. The listener becomes one with the poem’s narrator, straining to see and hear the couple’s conversation in the icy cold of the deserted, frozen park. Debussy reaches back to “En sourdine” (the first mélodie of Fêtes galantes I), takes the wistful song of the nightingale, and inserts it into this song at various points. The nightingale’s melody (“voix de nôtre dessespoir, le rossignol chantera”) provides a touching and melancholy association, linking the two sets of Fêtes galantes together symbolically and musically, foreshadowing the disenchantment of love hinted at in “En sourdine” with the lovers’ conversation in “Colloque sentimental,” and unifying the two sets by a subtle musical component. This panel of three mélodies was Debussy’s last setting of the poetry of Paul Verlaine. Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons (1915) poem by the composer This is Debussy’s last song, written to his own text, a Christmas carol for children made homeless by World War I. Its intensity comes from its simple sincerity. Debussy composed it on the eve of his first operation for the cancer that would end his life two years later. It was his personal protest against the invasion of northern France by the German armies. When asked for permission to orchestrate the song, Debussy refused, saying, “I want this piece to be sung with the most discreet accompaniment. Not a word of the text must be lost, inspired as it is by the rapacity of our enemies. It is the only way I have to fight the war.” Originally composed in 1915 for piano and voice, Debussy also created a version for children’s chorus, and in 1916, a version for piano and two sopranos. BACK TO TOP HENRI DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Henri Dutilleux studied at the Paris Conservatory with Maurice Emmanuel. He received the Prix de Rome in 1938 at age twenty-two, and went on to work at the Paris Opéra and the French Radio. France’s musical institutions defined his career: in 1961, he joined the faculty at the école Normale de Musique, teaching composition. In 1970, he taught at the Paris Conservatoire. He destroyed many of his early works, considering them derivative of Ravel, the preeminent composer in France during his youth. His music that had been published avoided demolition. After World War II, Dutilleux concentrated almost exclusively on instrumental and orchestral music, much of which has been widely programmed and recorded. His songs are not well known. In the chronological catalogue of his compositions, beginning in 1929, the Quatre mélodies for mezzo soprano or baritone is only the eleventh entry. It also exists in an orchestral version. The collection is dedicated to the French baritone Charles Panzéra and his wife, pianist Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot, prominent interpreters of French song in the interwar years. Gabriel Fauré dedicated his last cycle, L’horizon chimérique, to Panzéra. Quatre mélodies (1942) uses poems by four different poets and presents a delightful collection of moods, although it must be admitted that the level of the poetry is not uniformly high: “Féérie au clair de lune” (poem by Raymond Genty), a graceful scherzo of dancing fairies that evokes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; “Pour une amie perdue” (Edmond Borsent); “Regards sur l’infini” (Anna de Noailles); and “Fantasio” (André Bellessort). The last mélodie is the most successful of the set and is one of two songs from the set (the other being “Pour une amie perdue”) that Dutilleux acknowledged. He wanted to exclude the first and third songs because their poetry was relatively mediocre. Fantasio (1942) from Quatre Mélodies poem by André Bellessort (1866-1942) “Fantasio” (the original title of Bellessort’s poem is “Les funérailles de Fantasio”) is a colorful poem that chronicles the funeral of the titled character, who has expired before the text begins. The poem, set in Venice during Carnival, is full of glittering and compelling imagery that changes quickly, following the pace of the Carnival. Musical textures are skillfully handled and exhibit some of Dutilleux’s developing style. “Pauvre Fantasio,” is heard several times during the text, acting as both a funereal chant that unifies the proceedings and perhaps as well, keeping the mourners’ footsteps marching together. BACK TO TOP GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924) Gabriel Fauré was one of the great composers of French song who, with Duparc and Debussy, perfected the mélodie as a true art song form. He composed about a hundred songs, all original in conception, constantly developing in style, and pointing the way to future works. His songs express a broad range of emotion and a great variety of musical textures, extending the musical parameters of the genre and inspiring new techniques of song compositions. His songs are often divided into three compositional periods for purposes of study and definition. Fauré has been characterized as a skillful watchmaker; with great precision his songs, which overflow with subtle nuances and delicate detail. His approach is in keeping with the French musical aesthetic: elegant and rational, dealing with sentiment rather than literal sensation. He was able to capture the entire poetic mood of each poem he set and to create an aura around it with his musical setting. Dans la fôret de septembre, Op. 85, No. 1 (1902) poem by Catulle Mendès (1841-1909) This touching poem symbolizes the onset of old age. Mendès was among the founders of a literary magazine, La Revue fantaisiste, which published many poems of the Parnassian poets. Fauré’s musical style perfectly suited this style of poetry: elegance of style, richness of rhyme, regularity and symmetry of rhythm. The Parnassians avoided the excessively romantic and aimed for “art-for-art’s sake.” Fauré was nearly sixty years old when he composed this mélodie, and his reaction to this poem is beautifully poignant. The words describe the poet’s reflective walk through a quiet, somber forest, capturing the chill of mortality and the overall mood of the turning point of life. The ancient forest, sensing a kindred spirit, provides the walker with a sign of friendship and understanding. Fauré set this contemplative poem in a rich harmonic musical texture with a vocal line that borders on quasi-recitative-like shapes. The solemn thoughts of old age call forth a melancholy, but it is a subtle melancholy. It is almost hymn-like in the fusion of words, emotions, and musical texture. This mélodie may be considered as marking the threshold to the final period of Fauré’s compositions. Accompagnement, Op. 85, No. 3 (1902) poem by Albert Victor Samain (1858-1900) This mélodie is a beautiful barcarolle–a nighttime scene, silvery and hazy, alluring but unreal. The image of the poet rowing on the lake is reflected in the musical texture. Fauré had a lifelong fascination with water imagery in music; this poem offers a little reel of unfolding pictures of a moonlight journey a dark lake. The words “dans le rêve” tell us that this is all a dream. This is a rarely sung Fauré mélodie that yields great rewards for the performer. Chanson, Op. 94 (1906) poem by Henri di Régnier (1864-1936) This poem has a gentle charm and a calm simplicity. It is the last of Fauré’s madrigals that include delicate love songs such as “Lydia,” and “Clair de lune.” It has a wonderful fluidity that is a perfect foil for the poetic images The text is a simple set of variations on one theme: nothing on earth has any meaning unless the beloved somehow touches it. Fauré’s reaction to the words called forth a musical setting of delicate transparency and limited range. It is not well known; like “Le Don silencieux,” “Chanson” was published as a single song and therefore not widely disseminated. It is an example of exquisitely planned musical economy, and definitely belongs in Fauré’s third period of musical compositions. Le Don silencieux, Op. 92 (1906) poem by Marie Closset (1875-1952), under the pseudonym Jean Dominique Here is another little known Fauré song, a rarity because it was published separately and was never included in any of the Fauré recueils. The poem has a gentle melancholy–the plea of a timid lover, a mixture of hope and imagined disappointment. The words are tender and flowing, but the overall mood is one of unrelieved sadness. This song marks the beginning of Fauré’s third compositional period, which includes the cycles La Chanson d’Eve, Le Jardin clos, Mirages, and L’Horizon chimérique. Writing of this mélodie in a letter to his wife, Fauré said, It does not in the least resemble any of my previous works, nor anything that I am aware of; I am very pleased about this...It translates the words gradually as they unfold themselves; it begins, opens out, and finishes, nothing more, nevertheless it is unified. 1 NOTES: Quoted in Graham Johnson, Gabriel Fauré: The Songs and their Poets (London: Guildhall School of Music and Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2009), 291. Quotation from Jean-Michel Nectoux, Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life, trans. Roger Nichols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 304. This is a translation of Fauré’s letter to his wife of 17 August 1906. BACK TO TOP REYNALDO HAHN (1875-1947) Reynaldo Hahn, Venezuelan by birth, came to Paris with his family at age four and made a brilliant career. In addition to his career as a composer and singer, he was director of the Paris Opéra, music critic for the newspaper Figaro, and conductor of the Salzburg Festival. He was enough of a scholar to edit some of the works of Rameau. He maintained close friendships throughout his life with actress Sarah Bernhardt and writer Marcel Proust. During the Belle époque, French mélodie was at the height of its development. Hahn was a habitué of the most fashionable salons, where he was in demand as a performer. On these occasions, he usually sang and played his own accompaniment, often with a cigarette dangling from his lips. The art of singing was one of his major passions, and he wrote three books on singing (Du chant, Thèmes varies, and L’oreille au guet), as well as a memoir of Sarah Bernhardt. Hahn’s songs are models of French restraint–devoid of overt display, with beautiful melodies in a modest vocal range. They reflect the style of his teacher, Jules Massenet. Hahn composed approximately ninety-five works for solo voice: eighty-four mélodies, five English songs to texts of Robert Louis Stevenson, and six Italian songs in the Venetian dialect. After 1912, Hahn composed in larger forms: opera, operetta, and film music. Perhaps his most famous work is his operetta Ciboulette (1923), which is still performed. À Chloris (1916) poem by Théophile de Viau (1590-1626) “À Chloris” is No. 14 in Deuxième volume de vingt mélodies, the last major publication of Hahn’s songs during his lifetime. In many of his later songs, he turned to a deliberately archaic style. “À Chloris” features an elegant vocal line above a piano texture that features Baroque musical characteristics; it is its own piece, with ornamented melody and chaconne-like bass. Vocal line and piano piece are woven into a musical tapestry that is both declarative and intimate. Poet Théophile de Viau was considered one of the most influential libertin poets during Louis XIII’s reign. The libertins’ verses had a unique charm that is instantly appealing, but somewhat artificial. Despite this, de Viau’s love poetry is not bland, but full of suggestive passion and elegant wit. BACK TO TOP ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892-1955) Arthur Honegger composed over forty mélodies for voice and piano. Taken as a whole, they are diverse and imaginative. For his texts, he favored contemporary poets such as Jean Cocteau, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Claudel, and Paul Fort. He also chose to set unrelated poems by a single poet, such as his Poesies (Cocteau) and Alcools (Apollinaire). Poetry with strong imagery appealed to the dramatist in his personality. For Honegger, as for most successful mélodie composers, the word provides the starting place. He is quoted as saying: For me, the music a song is always dependent upon the poetic model. It must join so closely with the poetry, that they become inseparable and one can picture the poem in wholly musical terms. This is not to say that the music becomes subservient. It must be so crafted that it can stand on its own merits, playable without the text, logical and complete. 1 Born of Swiss parents in Le Havre, France, Arthur Honegger initially studied for two years at the Zurich Conservatory, but enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire from 1911 to 1918, studying with Charles-Marie Widor and Vincent d’Indy. Some of his more familiar large vocal works include the dramatic psalm Le roi David (King David), composed in 1921 and still in the choral repertoire; and his dramatic oratorio of 1935, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the stake), with text by Paul Claudel, considered to be one of his finest works. Between the world wars, he composed nine ballets and three vocal stage works, among works in other genres. His total compositional catalog is an impressive list of music: orchestral works, chamber music, concertos, ballets, operas, operettas, and oratorios. Widely known as a train enthusiast, he was passionately interested in locomotives, to which he attributed almost human characteristics. His “mouvement symphonique,” Pacific 231, gained him early acclaim in 1923. Honegger’s musical style is a fascinating mixture of impressionistic effects peppered with penetrating dissonances. He had a fondness for mixing tonalities and using modality. His compositions for the voice display an eclectic focus of coloristic harmonies and architectural clarity. He was a member of Les Six, but unlike most of that group, did not share their overwhelming reaction against German romanticism. Honegger’s musical style is fuller and more serious than his colleagues. He and Darius Milhaud were close friends. Honegger’s generous body of song has proved of enduring interest to contemporary performers. His was a distinctive voice in the vocal music of the twentieth-century French mélodie. Trois Psaumes (1940-41) from the Huguenot Psalter Psaumes XXXIV and CXL translated by Théodore de Bèze (1519-1605) Psaume CXXXVIII translated by Clément Marot (1496-1544) The spirit of Bach shines in the first psaume, “Psalm 34,” in which a chant-like vocal line alternates with a gently moving episodic keyboard part. This call and response continues until the last three vocal phrases, when the vocal line merges with the instrumental texture in a psalm of praise. The second song is “Psalm 140,” “ô Dieu donne-moi la déliverance de cet homme pernicieux” (O God, deliver me from this evil man). Honegger’s biographer, Harry Halbreich, suggests that the “evil man” who was oppressing Europe in those last days of 1940 might be the reason for Honegger’s text choice. This piece was composed before the first and third songs. Its emotional mood peaks with the chorale tune “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” 2 The last song in the set, “Psalm 138,” has the Latin title “Confiteor tibi, Domine” (I thank thee, O Lord) and is a paraphrase by Clément Marot, one of the greatest of the French Renaissance poets. It contains a familiar chorale tune, which is used in canon between voice and piano. NOTES: Arthur Canter and Rachel Joselson, Liner notes, The Songs of Arthur Honegger and Jacques Leguerney. Rachel Joselson, Réne Lecuona , piano. Albany Records, TROY691, 2004. Harry Halbreich, trans. Roger Nichols, Arthur Honegger (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1999), 165. BACK TO TOP JACQUES LEGUERNEY (1906-1997) Most of Jacques Leguerney’s sixty-eight mélodies were composed and published from 1940 to 1964. Many were commissioned and premiered by French baritone Gérard Souzay, his sister, soprano Geneviève Touraine, and pianist Jacqueline Bonneau. Early songs are comparable in mood and style with Ravel or Roussel (who encouraged Leguerney’s composition); later songs have been compared to those of his contemporary, Poulenc. Leguerney writes virtuoso piano parts–often dramatic, and with such an individual sense of harmonic style and color that Pierre Bernac reportedly described them as “mélodies de pianist.” 1 When asked about Leguerney’s songs, Gérard Souzay wrote, “How does one describe this music which is, at the same time, classic and modern? It is pure, but colorfully nuanced; it speaks to the heart as well as the mind–at times calm at times witty–wise, yet sensual...” 2 Many of Leguerney’s songs deal with themes of love and nature, expressing a huge range of emotions from deeply felt meditation to wild, ribald humor. Leguerney stopped composing in 1964, and his songs became neglected. The quality of Leguerney’s text setting, lyrical beauty, and harmonic innovations all call for his songs to be better known and more widely performed. Jacques Leguerney was drawn to the work of Renaissance poets, notably Ronsard. There are eight collections titled Poèmes de la Pléaide, representing settings of sixteenth and seventeenth-century French poetry and totaling thirty-two songs. Additionally, there are cycles and other collections [for a complete listing of Leguerney’s songs, see Dibbern, Kimball, and Choukroun, Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney]. 3 They may be thought of as the last in the great mainstream of twentieth-century French song. La Caverne d’écho (1954) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 7 poem by Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant (1594-1661) Dedication: Josiane and Jean Cier. First performance: Bernard Kruysen, baritone; Jean-Charles Richard, pianist. 29 May 1965, Radio France Culture. Marc-Antoine Girard, sieur de Saint-Amant, wrote poetry of great descriptive power, and his use of language set him apart from the other seventeenth-century poets. He was also an adept musician and skillful lute player, writing verses that often describe musical sounds linked to visual images. The poem takes place in a dark cave, home of the nymph, Echo; it is a charmed place, absolutely still and peaceful. The poet’s lute resounds inside the cavern as he tries to soothe the inconsolable Echo, who mourns for her lover Narcissus. Leguerney creates the grotto’s mysterious resonance with bitonality. Piano figures illustrate the strumming of the lute. The text contains many sounds with the consonant “r.” The rolling quality of this speech sonority re-creates the cavern’s resonance. The closing measures of the mélodie produce a striking effect as the singer’s voice echoes eerily in the cavern, blending with the piano’s resonance and creating a remarkably realistic echo. À son page (1944) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 2 poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Dedicated to Gérard Souzay. First performance: Gérard Souzay, baritone; Jacqueline Robin (Bonneau). 3 May 1945, Salle Gaveau, Paris. This is a lusty scene with four characters: a nobleman tipsy from drink, his page, and two women, Jeanne and Barbe. Carpe diem is the theme here. The singer philosophizes on this idea while enjoying his wine and the tender companionship of the two beautiful women. Leguerney evokes the crackling staccato of a stylized harpsichord with rhythmic accents in the piano. The text is brilliantly set with jagged vocal lines and driving rhythms that illustrate the singer’s intoxication. It ends with Leguerney’s repetition of the last poetic line and the addition of nonsense syllables which fit beautifully into the imagery and mood of Ronsard’s colorful characters. Je me lamente (1943) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 1 poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Dedicated to Geneviève Touraine. First performance: Paul Derenne, tenor; Jeanne Blancard, pianist. 29 March 1944, Salle de l’Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris. This is one of Leguerney’s most beautiful songs, setting Pierre de Ronsard’s text from his collection of love poems for Marie Dupin, a country girl from a small village in southern France. She was half his age and probably represented the youth he constantly pursued. It has been suggested that the Marie in question was probably Marie de Clèves, passionately adored by Henri III. 4 Leguerney called this mélodie a constant crescendo from beginning to end. 5 Ronsard’s anguish is captured with a texture of stark chords, crowned by a regal and sustained vocal line. As the song progresses, the poet’s anguish is embodied in a more expansive texture, bidding Marie a happy resting place near God or in the Elysian fields. NOTES: Liner notes by Mary Dibbern. Mélodies sur poèmes de la Renaissance (Jacques Leguerney).Harmonia Mundi France. LP recording HMC 1171. Letter to the author. Quoted in Mary Dibbern, Carol Kimball, and Patrick Choukroun. Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2001), 3. Ibid., 289-295. Ibid., 69. See note 20. Ibid., 70. BACK TO TOP OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Olivier Messiaen was born in 1908 in Avignon, France, into a literary family. He grew up around words and absorbed their shapes, colors and sounds naturally. His father, Pierre Messiaen, was a well-known translator of Shakespeare, and his mother, Cécile Sauvage, was a poet. As a youngster, before beginning to compose music, he had an especially perceptive ear attuned to the unique prosody of the French language. Early in his compositional career, he published a book titled Technique de mon langage musical (1944). About his musical setting of words, Jane Manning observes: ...the syllables themselves create a glittering mosaic of sonorities and subtle resonances, in addition to their actual meaning (many of the poems do not translate at all satisfactorily). The composer’s awareness of the minutiae of verbal enunciations and articulations is miraculous. Each vocal sound can be precisely placed as intended, all dynamics are scrupulously plotted, and the performer’s involvement and intimate connection to the music is enhanced by the sensual nature of words projection... 1 He often used stained glass to explain his music. When viewed from a distance, the myriad details blend into a single entity, whose purpose is to dazzle the listener. Understanding is not necessary, feeling is the prime requisite. The music of Olivier Messiaen is a skillfully designed and unique language, with meaning and form kept separate. Its meaning is unchangeable, harkening back to Gregorian chant, culminating in instruments that are able to prolong sound (organ, strings, or the ondes Martenot). Messiaen’s musical language is defined by its rhythms and tone colors. His uncanny instinct for associating sound with color produced works unique in their concept of the combination of sounds. He said that when he heard or read music, his mind’s eye saw colors that move with the music; he sensed these colors, and at times he precisely indicated their arrangements in his scores. His fascination with birdsong was lifelong; he referred to himself as an ornithologist and tracked birds and their songs all over the world. He considered their resonances as songs and not merely sounds. He notated these on manuscript paper and they found their way into his music. Trois mélodies (1930) poems by Olivier Messiaen, Cécile Sauvage (1883-1927) This little cycle of songs is Messiaen’s first recognized work for voice and piano. The songs are modest in length and not typical of Messiaen’s later style, but show influences of late Fauré and Duparc in the overall musical texture. There is only one song in his vocal compositions in which Messiaen set the poetry of another poet. It is found in this cycle, which uses the text of his mother, the poet Cécile Sauvage, who died three years before the composition of this work. The three movements form a warm and delicate little triptych. Two of Messiaen’s own poems stand on either side of the poem by Cécile Sauvage, throwing that charming little poem into high relief. “Pourquoi?” introduces a litany of the pleasures of nature: birdsong, the unfolding seasons, and water images. The poet becomes emotional, asking why all these bring him no joy. “La Sourire,” the shortest song of the set, is a beautiful microcosm of intimate and spiritual understanding between two people. It is a delicate example of musical economy and word setting in a quasi-recitative style. The last song, “La fiancée perdue,” offers fleeting hints of Messiaen’s cycle to come, Poèmes pour Mi–most specifically, the final song. Here, the poet prays for divine blessing on the soul of the “fiancée” in the title. The fervent incantation illuminates and affirms man’s connection to a higher authority. Examining the poetic content of the three texts, we are struck by the images that underlie the words: the emotional outburst “pourquoi,” (why?), perhaps questioning the death of Cécile, followed by Cécile’s tender affirmation of love, and finally, the prayer asking for Divine grace and the blessing of the soul of the departed. NOTES: Jane Manning, “The Songs and Song Cycles,” in The Messiaen Companion, ed. Peter Hill (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1995), 107. BACK TO TOP DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974) Darius Milhaud was probably the most prolific composer of the group known as Les Six (Francis Poulenc, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Georges Auric, and Milhaud). The group was unified by friendship rather than a single musical style. Championed by influential writer Jean Cocteau and composer Erik Satie, Les Six often presented their works at the same concerts and met with great regularity–often at Milhaud’s house–to make music and exchange ideas. Louis Durey observed that it was the wide diversity in their personalities and musical styles that gave the group its rich depth and permitted its development. Embodied in the credo of their musical thought was relative sparseness of texture and clarity. Turn-of-the-century France offered popular entertainments that drew the French to an environment of merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries, outdoor concerts, circuses, and a jumble of excitement. Milhaud was fascinated by Parisian street life, and could hear the sounds of the Montmartre fair from his apartment. Often on their group outings, Les Six went together to the Cirque de Médrano to see the Fratellinis, a famous family of clowns of that day. Milhaud observed that their acts were worthy of the Commedia dell’arte. 1 Trois Poèmes de Jean Cocteau, Op. 59 (1920) poems by Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) Trois poèmes de Jean Cocteau is like lyric fragments. The small-range vocal lines have a sparse lyricism–one of emotional mood rather than overt melody. The little mélodies are skillful studies in brevity. These match Cocteau’s rather enigmatic poems that exemplify the style termed dépouillé (stripped to the essentials), his aesthetic creed. Milhaud dedicated the songs to Satie. The three miniatures are a colorful kaleidoscope of the circus and the outdoor fairs that entranced the French during this period. “Fumée” describes the equestrienne of the Cirque Médrano atop a horse, jumping through hoops, captured in Toulouse-Lautrec’s familiar painting titled “L’écuyère au Cirque Fernando (1888); “Fête de Bordeaux” is a description of the merry-go-round at the Bordeaux fair; and “Fête de Montmartre” evokes the nighttime boats and sailors, possibly having to do with a game involving camouflaged ships found at the Montmartre fair. Milhaud infuses stylistic and melodic elements of folk songs and children’s tunes into the tiny pieces, tying the innate excitement of these popular destinations to simple, childlike reactions. NOTES: Laurence Davies, The Gallic Muse (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1967), 164. BACK TO TOP FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963) Francis Poulenc’s 150 mélodies form the largest body of songs to be added to French vocal literature in the twentieth century. Poulenc’s flair for the dramatic, combined with his superb skill in mixing poetry and music, produced songs that singers find immensely gratifying, not only for their musical value, but for their heightened sense of drama. Poulenc’s mélodies reflect concern and feeling for declamation, inflection, breathing, and above all, show extraordinary warmth of feeling for the human voice. He was fond of saying, “J’aime la voix humaine!” The sophistication of Poulenc’s songs spring from their poetic inspirations. Poulenc was quite knowledgeable about poetry, and chose his texts carefully. His gift of divining the inner life of the texts he set produced songs that do more than merely illustrate the poems. His gift for melody is at the very heart of all his songs and seems to assert itself naturally in shaping the color, weight, and meaning of the texts he set. Ce doux petit visage (1938) poem by Paul éluard (1895-1952) Paul Eluard was one of Poulenc’s three main poets. This is a beautiful introduction to Eluard’s poetry, lyrical and passionately intense. The simplicity of Poulenc’s setting allows the poem to shine. It is one of Poulenc’s tiny gems, and he admitted his partiality to the short song. Eluard’s skill at evoking nostalgia and melancholy are seen here, linked to lost youth. The mélodie is dedicated to the memory of Raymonde Linossier, Poulenc’s most intimate childhood friend, who influenced his literary taste and musical tendencies. He said: “I have a great liking for this short song. Raymonde Linossier was my best advisor for the music of my youth. How many times, during the years since her death, I would have liked to have had her opinion on this or the other of my works.” 1 La Grenouillère (1938) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) “La Grenouillère” is an outstanding example of Poulenc’s romantic lyricism. This is a text by Guillaume Apollinaire describing the Ile de Croissy, an island in the Seine on the outskirts of Paris, frequented by artists and their models, and celebrated in paintings by Monet, Manet, and Renoir. “The Froggery” was a restaurant on the island. The overall images of happy days that cannot be relived can be seen in Pierre Auguste Renoir’s paintings Les Déjeuner des canotiers (The Boatman’s Luncheon), or La Grenouillère. In this lament for boating parties on the Seine, vocal phrases are sustained and languid, floating over a slowly rocking piano accompaniment. The lazy piano figures mirror the empty tethered boats rocking on the water, bumping against each other, and give expression to the sweet melancholy of the poet’s words. Montparnasse (1945) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Apollinaire’s poem is dated 1912. Poulenc writes in his journal of songs that it took him four years to complete “Montparnasse,” almost phrase by phrase, and that he had no regrets about the length of time it took because “it is one of my best songs.” 2 It is a sentimental and heartfelt tribute to Paris. Both Apollinaire and Poulenc loved the city and it played a continuing role in their work. “Montparnasse” is about the idyllic artistic existence lived at the edge of Paris. Poulenc wrote in his diary: “Let us imagine this Montparnasse all at once discovered by Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Apollinaire.” 3 The mélodie has a carefree nonchalance about it; it is not sad, but thoughtful– a beautiful blend of poetic and musical lyricism. Poulenc’s vocal and harmonic textures are full of surprising harmonic details that bind this song–which he composed in fragments–together into a touching and expressive picture of Paris in the early years of the twentieth century. Bleuet (1939) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Guillaume Apollinaire was one of Poulenc’s preferred poets. This is a wartime poem that Apollinaire penned in 1917 in Paris in convalescence after a head injury; both Apollinaire and Poulenc served in World War II. There are several word plays at work here. “Bleuet” was the nickname for French soldiers in World War I, because their uniforms were blue, like the color of a little cornflower, which is a “bleuet.” Also, “Un bleu” was the term used for a raw recruit. “Bleuet” is one of Poulenc’s most moving songs– agonizing in its emotional content yet noble in its message. It is a quiet and private moment in which a twenty-year-old boy who does not yet know all that life can be, is characterized–and addressed–by the poet in a sweetly serious speech. Poulenc wrote that for him, the key to the poem were the words, “It is five o’clock and you would know how to die.” 4 This song is simple, intimate, and poignant. Les Chemins de l’amour (1940) poem by Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) Poulenc composed this valse chantée as incidental music for Léocadia, a play by Jean Anouilh. Within the play, the song was described as a pseudo Viennese waltz, and functioned as a leitmotiv in the plot. Sung by Yvonne Printemps, one of France’s most celebrated musical theatre stars, “Les Chemins de l’amour” became a popular success. It embodies the relaxed elegance of a self-styled Viennese waltz style, encased in one of Poulenc’s haunting melodies. Banalités (1940) poems by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Banalités is not a cycle, but a group of five songs. The poems have no connection with each other; however, their order provides a well-constructed recital group. They may be performed separately. The work is one of Poulenc’s most popular vocal works, and deservedly so. Poulenc chose contrasting poems, placing them so that the collection begins briskly and ends with lyrical gravity. “Chanson d’Orkenise” is Poulenc’s title for the poem contained in the strange mixture of prose and poetry that Apollinaire called Onirocritique. Orkenise is a road in Autun leading to the Roman gate of the same name. The musical setting has the feeling of a popular folk song. The narrator sings of a tramp leaving the city and a carter who is entering it - one leaving his heart there, one bringing his heart to be married. There is a word in the poem with a double meaning: “grise” can be translated as “gray” or “tipsy.” The merry quality of the song opens the set with gaiety, but both Apollinaire and Poulenc offer a little food for thought. “Hôtel” is a poem that immediately represented for Poulenc a hotel room in Montparnassse, where the idle poet wants only to bask in the sun’s warmth and smoke. Pierre Bernac referred to it as “the laziest song ever written.” 5 The piano figures are fashioned of Poulenc’s luxuriant chromatic harmonies, stacked as if to cushion the lethargy of the singer. “Fagnes de Wallonie” is set in the gloomy, desolate uplands of the Ardennes with a terrain of vast heaths, twisted trees, and peat bogs, swept by winds of considerable force. Its gloomy setting complements the melancholy mood of the poet. Poulenc’s spiky musical setting is a whirlwind that sweeps from beginning to end in a turbulent texture that demands precise articulation from singer and pianist. Sandwiched between Songs 3 and 5 is a tiny bonbon, “Voyage à Paris.” It resembles a little commercial jingle about Paris–“which one day love must have created”–an invitation to the pleasures of that beautiful city, away from “the dreary countryside.” Poulenc sprinkles his quicksilver setting–a valse-musette–with indications of “amiable” and “avec charme.” The composer referred to it as having “deliciously stupid lines...Anything that concerns Paris I approach with tears in my eyes and my head full of music.” 6 The cycle concludes with “Sanglots”, one of Apollinaire’s finest poems about the universality of lost love, a theme that Poulenc matches with exquisite modulations in a setting that embodies the essence of the words. The vocal lines are eloquently lyrical. The poem is difficult to understand because of the juxtaposition of the main narrative and the interior “asides,” that in effect form a poem within a poem. 7 The song has an elegant serenity that culminates in a stunning climactic point at the words: “Est mort d’amour ou c’est tout comme/ Est mort d’amour et le voici.” The ending lines of the song sustain the profoundly calm mood, bringing Banalités to its close. La Courte Paille (1960) poems by Maurice Carême (1899-1978) The last song cycle Poulenc composed was La Courte paille, on seven poems of Belgian poet Maurice Carême. Poulenc composed the songs for soprano Denise Duval, creator of leading roles in his three operas, hoping that she would sing them to her young son. Poulenc considered the mélodies very poetic and whimsical; unfortunately, Duval disliked the music and never did sing the cycle. Poulenc asked Carême to provide an overall title for the work and requested permission to change the titles of several selected poems: the original title of “Quelle aventure!” is “Une puce et l’éléphant”; “Le Reine de cœur” is “Vitres de lune”; “Le carafon” is “La carafe et le carafon.” For the cycle’s title, Carême chose La Courte Paille (The Short Straw), referring to drawing lots by the method of a short straw. Poulenc was delighted, saying the title symbolized his little musical game exactly. He also wrote in his diary, “They must be sung tenderly; that is the surest way to touch the heart of a child.” 8 The cycle is full of child-like innocence, whimsy and imagination, with a few shadowy undertones. The first song, “Le Sommeil,” is a beautiful lullaby to a restless child who cannot go to sleep, tossing and turning in his small bed. He seems ill, crying and perspiring, but hopefully will finally surrender to slumber. In “Quelle aventure!” the child describes an absurd happening: he saw a flea driving a carriage with a small elephant in it. The story grows more bizarre but the rhythmic pace never wavers, careening to the end of the song when the child wonders how on earth he’ll ever be able to persuade “Mama” that it really happened. The verses are witty, yet the shrieks of “Mon Dieu!” are laced with a feeling of childish terror. “La Reine du cœur” is a beautiful, languid melody that paints a picture of the mysterious Queen of Hearts, beckoning to visitors from her frosty castle, where she reigns over a court of lovers, including the young dead. In “Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu...,” the child is chided “on all sides” about studying. The title of the song presents the French vowels, and the text contains words that make their plural with an “x” (“pou, chou, genou, hibou”). The formidable cat of the poem’s opening lines is none other than that tricky feline Puss-in-Boots! The entire song is a little tongue-twister, an exercise in diction and accuracy. “Les anges musiciens” are none other than the school children staying home on Thursday, the half-day school holiday in France in Poulenc’s time, practicing Mozart on their harps, just like good little angel musicians should do. “Le carafon” is a crazy little story of a carafe that longs for a baby carafe (carafon) just like the giraffe at the zoo, who has a girafon. This is a ridiculous rhyming game like those that children love to play. The text is full of whimsical characters: the carafe, a giraffe, a sorcerer astride a phonograph, Merlin, and finally, a carafon. “Lune d’Avril” is another lullaby, very slow and otherworldly, which serves as an epilogue. Bound together in a musical texture that features a syncopated pedal point, it is filled with enchanted images the child wishes to dream about: a land of joy, light, and flowers where all guns are silent. The ending leaves the listener suspended in a mood of unfinished magic. La Courte Paille is the last vocal music Poulenc composed. NOTES: Quoted in Pierre Bernac, Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1977), 125. Francis Poulenc, Journal de mes mélodies, trans. Winifred Radford (London: Victor Gollancz, 1985), 75. Ibid., 75. Ibid., 57. Bernac, 72. Poulenc, 67. The English translation of “Sanglots” has parentheses that delineate the “asides” so that both “poems” may be seen. These may be found in Pierre Bernac’s books Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs, page 75, or The Interpretation of French Song, pages 284-85 Poulenc, 109. BACK TO TOP MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937) The songs of Maurice Ravel represent a transition between the mature mélodies of Debussy and the vocal literature that followed, notably the songs of Les Six. Debussy dominated the French musical scene from the turn of the century until his death in 1918. It was Ravel who was regarded as the leading musical spokesman for France following World War I. He was a skillful craftsman and his songs have a sense of evenness of rhythmic structure and flow that call for scrupulous execution. The fusion of music and text into a logical whole was of utmost importance to him. He composed elegant and subtle mélodies, using classical phrase structure. His melodic phrases often tend toward modality. His songs range from those with a folk-like style to more to those that are more speech-like, and those that encompass a melodic romanticism. He was precise in his thought and his scoring, and scrupulous in his musical execution. His music encompassed some of the fascinating influences of the post-Wagnerian era. Ravel’s musical contributions were of utmost importance to this exciting and new era in French cultural history. He made notable contributions to musical literature for the piano, the French art song, opera, chamber music, orchestral literature, and the ballet. Sur l’herbe (1907) poem by Paul Verlaine (1833-1896) This mélodie is Ravel’s only setting of Verlaine. It has often been suggested that this poem was probably inspired by Watteau’s painting L’île enchantée. There is also a reference to a famous eighteenth-century dancer, Marie-Anne Cuppi, known as (La) Camargo, who was immortalized on canvas by the painter Nicolas Lancret. The scene is an outside gathering, elegant and artificial. A number of people are there, chief among them, a licentious abbé, slightly tipsy from a bit too much Cyprian wine. He exchanges a few disconnected gallantries with the ladies–innocent conversations on the surface, but sensuous in undertone. The conversation is disconnected; we do not know exactly who is speaking. Ravel shapes very flexible vocal phrases, in keeping with the abbé’s intoxicated state, underscored with graceful piano figures that evoke an eighteenth-century dance. In a letter to Jean-Aubrey, Ravel commented on “Sur l’herbe”: “In this piece, as in the Histoires naturelles, the impression must be given that one is almost not singing. A bit of preciosity is found there which is indicated moreover by the text and the music.” 1 Noël des jouets (1905) poem by the composer This is the only solo song for which Ravel wrote the text. It describes a Christmas manger scene, replete with the Virgin and Christ-child, animals, and angels. It embodies Ravel’s delight with tiny mechanical toys and figures, and his fascination with the unspoiled world of child-like experience. His genius for text painting is displayed in the delightful mélodie. The mechanical toys come to life in the piano figures. Ravel’s charming text creates the images around and over the crèche, with not a word wasted. Ravel commented that the music is “clear and plain, like the mechanical toys of the poem.” 2 This little song foreshadows other Ravel settings of make-believe, beginning with the song cycle Histoires naturelles and culminating with his opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges. The music of menacing dog Belzébuth foreshadows the music of the Beast in the Mother Goose Suite (Ma Mère lOye). Rêves (1927) poem by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) The poetry of Léon-Paul Fargue has been described as reflecting the union of dream and memory. This mélodie has a tender lyricism within a sparse musical texture. The text is fashioned of a series of miniature images that pass by rather quickly, unrelated, like the images found in dreams. For all their differences, they have a simplicity about them that seems timeless, existing together, as the poet says, “in a vague countryside.” When the dreamer finally awakens, the little fleeting pictures “die quietly.” The piano postlude perpetuates the dream state, creating an ethereal little microcosm that continues to draw the dreamer to it. Ronsard à son âme (1924) poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) In his Abrégé de l’art poétique français (1565) Pierre de Ronsard advocated the union of poetry and music, and Renaissance composers frequently set his poems. 3 In this strikingly simple mélodie, Ronsard speaks to his soul, calling it by a series of diminutives: little soul, dainty little one, sweet little one. Ravel uses a series of parallel fifths in the piano figures to invoke a Renaissance mood. This is Ronsard’s last poem, and Ravel’s last adaptation of Renaissance poetry. Ravel’s setting recalls the elegance of his early mélodie, “D’Anne qui me jecta de la neige,” to a poem of Clément Marot. Manteau de fleurs (1903) poem by Paul Barthélemy Jeulin (1863-1936) The poem notes everything in the garden that is pink–all the flowers that will become a beautiful cloak to complement the beauty of the lady of the poem. Ravel usually had very sophisticated taste in choosing texts; this particular poem is an unusual choice. It is a simple text, somewhat banal, but Ravel’s shimmering musical texture imparts a dramatic character for each flower in the poem. The overall piano texture suggests orchestral colors. The last section of the mélodie changes course slightly, with the piano harmonies creating a slightly wistful mood. Clearly, Ravel lavished a beautiful musical setting on a rather ordinary set of words. Don Quichotte à Dulcinée (1932-33) [Medium/Low Voice edition only] poems by Paul Morand (1888-1976) This miniature cycle was Ravel’s last vocal work. His musical portrait of the noble Spanish knight, Don Quixote, is embodied in three mélodies, all based on characteristic Spanish or Basque dance rhythms: (1) the guajira, alternating 6/8 and 3/4 meter; (2) the zorzica, a Basque dance in quintuple meter; and (3) the jota, a lively triple-metered Spanish dance. “Chanson Romanesque” presents the chivalrous idealist Don Quixote, confidently promising to rearrange everything in nature to his lady Dulcinea’s liking in order to win her favor. Dulcinea is in reality a poor farm girl, but the Don’s illusion will not be shaken. He remains authoritative and focused in his quest for her love. “Chanson épique” is Quixote’s reverent prayer to Saint Michael and Saint George, beseeching them to bless his sword and his Lady. Ravel creates a beautifully sustained and prayerful vocal line over a simple accompaniment. “Chanson à boire” is a exuberant drinking song. Although the Don’s tippling has made him overly boisterous, he never oversteps the bounds of his noble bearing. His robust laughter is heard in the piano figures and even a hiccup intrudes between “lorsque j’ai” and “lorsque j’ai bu.” NOTES: Maurice Ravel, in a letter to Jean-Aubrey written in September, 1907. Quoted in Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician (New York: Dover Publications, 1991), 165-66. Quoted in Orenstein, 161. Orenstein, 192. BACK TO TOP ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869-1937) In 1894 Albert Roussel left a highly successful career as a naval officer to pursue music. After completing his studies, he became professor of counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Satie and Varèse were among his students. Roussel was one of the most prominent French composers of the interwar period. He composed almost forty mélodies as well as chamber music, ballets, and operas. His style is eclectic but highly individual. Early works show the influence of Vincent d’Indy, works dating from 1910 to 1920 exhibit influences of Debussy and Ravel, but he turned to neoclassicism in his later compositions. His love for the sea was almost a spiritual attraction and continued to influence his music throughout his career. He had a fascination for distant places; his extended tour of Southeast Asia in 1909 had a tremendous influence on his composition. “Sarabande” and “Cœur en peril” are mélodies to texts of René Chalupt, a close friend. They are found in op. 20 and 50, respectively. Roussel’s overall musical catalogue is not extensive, but its quality is of an extremely high level, and his vocal writing in particular contains some mélodies of great delicacy and style, squarely in the French tradition. For Roussel, the word held primacy in his mélodies, being both transformed by its musical setting and merging with it to create a perfect union. Commenting on the quality of Roussel’s songs, composer Charles Koechlin is quoted as saying: “The sense of austerity pervading them, stemming simply from the composer’s natural reserve, heightens their expressiveness and further embellishes them; in language and content they are absolutely personal. This collection of songs is one which will last because its essence is undying sensitivity.” 1 Sarabande (1919) from Deux mélodies, Op. 20, No. 2 poem by René Chalupt This is surely one of Roussel’s most delicate and magical creations. His writing for the piano is particularly outstanding, placing Chalupt’s poem in an overall texture of elegance and veiled sensuality. There is an Oriental delicacy in Roussel’s musical evocation of the fluttering doves, feathers drifting into a pool, and the gentle drift of chestnut blossoms onto bare flesh. Cœur en péril (1933-34) from Deux mélodies, Op. 50, No. 1 poem by René Chalupt This mélodie is much different in mood–witty and flirtatious. It is the narrative of a young man eager to convince his ladylove of his fidelity. Vocal phrases are tuneful, with a spirited piano texture of Iberian flavor. NOTES: Liner notes, Dom Angelico Surchamp, trans. Elisabeth Carroll, Roussel Mélodies, Colette Alliot-Lugaz, Mady Mesplé, Kurt Ollmann, José Van Dam; Dalton Baldwin, Patrick Gallois. EMI Digital. CDS 7492712, 1987 BACK TO TOP ERIK SATIE (1866-1925) Erik Satie wrote very few songs and most of them date from late in his life. The eccentric father figure of the French avant-garde of the twentieth century had a wildly independent spirit that found its way into his musical compositions. Throughout his life, he kept a great deal of childlike inquisitiveness and innocence. He was a curious personality of unconventional habits whose sense of the absurd and whimsy permeated both his life and his music. Quintessential Satie compositions are laconic and witty. It was Satie who named Les Nouveaux Jeunes, soon known as Les Six, and influenced the early development of the group. La Statue de bronze (1916) from Trois Mélodies poem by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) This is Satie’s first setting of the poetry of Léon-Paul Fargue, the “Bohemian poet of Paris.” Satie used Fargue’s witty verses again for Ludions. The scene is a garden game–the jeu de tonneau. A bronze frog, perched atop a cabinet with numbered chambers, grows impatient of being the target of the game where metal disks are tossed into her mouth. She dreams of being freed from her pedestal and being able to use her wide-open mouth to utter “LE MOT.” 1 She wants to be free to join the other frogs gathered near the rust-colored washhouse “blowing musical bubbles from the soapy moonlight.” But the game continues, the disks rattle through her mouth into numbered compartments and at night, insects sleep in her mouth. This mélodie can be linked musically to “La Grenouille américaine,” found in Ludions. Both songs share piano figures derived from the café-concert chanson. Ludions (1923) poems by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) Ludions is the last of Satie’s purely vocal works, composed two years before his death, and is perhaps his finest set of songs. It epitomizes his lifelong quest for musical simplicity and his irreverence for the intricate compositional techniques and overactive emotions of the Impressionists. Ludions is translated as “bottle imps” (a ludion is a little figure suspended in a hollow ball, which descends or rises in a vase filled with water when one presses down on the elastic membrane covering the mouth of the vase). The cycle is a kaleidoscopic set of musical miniatures, riddled with puns and illogical phrases. Fargue’s nonsensical verse complements Satie’s musical aesthetic, and the two friends’ personalities closely matched one another. All the mélodies in Ludions are short, like tiny cameos. They are colorful, saucy, fantastic, and defy translation. “Air du rat,” “La Grenouille américaine,” and “Chanson du chat” are right out of the music hall, and Satie uses with a mock-serious “tongue-in-cheek” treatment for “Spleen” and “Air du poète.” Je te veux (1902) poem by Henry Pacory (1873-?) The valse chantée, or sung waltz was a favorite of the café concerts, for which Satie composed a number of works. Café concerts were a form of Parisian popular entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The all-musical programs were held outside; French popular singers presented repertoire that catered to lower and middle-class audiences who came to talk, eat, drink, and observe the long informal programs, for which there was no admission charge. “Je te veux” was composed for Paulette Darty, dubbed “the Queen of the slow waltz.” It was one of her signature musical presentations for the caf’conc (café concerts), and one that Darty remained associated with throughout her career. A statuesque blonde with an ample figure, Darty was a commanding performer who kept the most boisterous of the Saturday night audiences enthralled. Lyricist Henry Pacory’s rather explicit poem was watered down at Satie’s request before the song was published. La Diva de l’Empire (1904) poem by Charles Bessat, named Numa Blès (1871-1917) The “Diva de l’Empire,” 2 one of Satie’s café-concert songs, was another work written for and performed by Paulette Darty. It was composed for a Bonnaud-Blès music-hall revue called Dévidons la Bobine (Let’s Unwind the Bobbin) that toured several seaside resort towns. The British “diva” is a femme fatale performer who enchants all who see her. The song is a syncopated cakewalk describing her seductive beauty as she struts her stuff “showing the wiggling of her legs and some pretty frilly underwear.” Interspersed at points along the way with English words: Greenaway, baby, little girl, etc. The piano provides a jaunty ragtime rhythm throughout that melds perfectly with the suggestive text. NOTES: ”Le mot” has a double meaning. It was the title of a broadsheet published by Jean Cocteau between 1914-15 and is short for “le mot de Cambronne,” a polite way of saying “merde.” Cambronne was a famous French general who replied “Merde!” when asked to surrender. In Steven Moore Whiting, Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 43. Empire refers to the Empire Theatre of Varieties, Leicester Square, London. BACK TO TOP DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC (1872-1921) Déodat de Séverac, of aristocratic lineage, was born in the Languedoc region of southwest France in Saint-Félix-Caraman (now Saint-Félix Lauragais), near Toulouse. After studies in Paris with Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum, he returned home and remained there. He was a contemporary of Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, but was considered a petit maître in their company, possibly because of his return to Languedoc at the completion of his musical studies. Séverac composed piano and orchestral music, operas and songs. The culture of his native Languedoc figured prominently in his music, which is highly descriptive. He often wrote parts for regional folk music in his scores. Many considered him provincial and unsophisticated, but his music displays his skill in integrating folk elements–and often, regional folk instruments–of his native Languedoc into his works. He often referred to himself as “the peasant musician.” Influences of Debussy, Mussorgsky, and Bizet may be found in his mélodies. Although his music is rather conservative in style, Séverac fused folk elements with the musical styles of the day in a unique and individual manner. Ma poupée chérie (1914) poem by the composer Composed in 1914 (and published in 1916) for his daughter Magali and dedicated to her, this little cradlesong is probably de Séverac’s best loved and most performed mélodie. Séverac’s fresh musical setting contains just the right combination of simplicity and delightful childlike honesty. Despite the subject matter, the composer’s heartfelt poem avoids an overly cloying atmosphere. BACK TO TOP OTHER SOURCES CONSULTED: Jane Bathori, On the Interpretation of the Mélodies of Claude Debussy, transl. and with an introduction by Linda Laurent (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1998). Pierre Bernac, Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs, transl. by Winifred Radford (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977). Pierre Bernac, The Interpretation of French Song, transl. by Winifred Radford(New York: W.W. Norton, 1978). Elaine Brody, Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope 1870-1925 (New York: George Braziller, 1987). Mary Dibbern, Carol Kimball, and Patrick Choukroun, Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2001) Alan M. Gillmor, Erik Satie (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1992). James Harding, The Ox on the Roof: Scenes from musical life in Paris in the Twenties (New York: Da Capo Press, 1986). Peter Hill, ed., The Messiaen Companion (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1995). Graham Johnson, Gabriel Fauré: The Songs and their Poets (London: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 2009) Graham Johnson and Richard Stokes, A French Song Companion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Carol Kimball, Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2005). Carol Kimball and Richard Walters, eds., The French Song Anthology (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2001). Timothy LeVan, Masters of the French Art Song (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991). Barbara Meister, Nineteenth-Century French Song (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980). Wilfrid Mellers, Francis Poulenc (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975). Nancy Perloff, Art and the Everyday: Popular Entertainment in the Circle of Erik Satie(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) Caroline Potter, Henri Dutilleux: His Life and Works (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 1997). Francis Poulenc, Moi et mes amis: Confidences recueilles par Stéphane Audel (Paris: La Palatine, 1963). Francis Poulenc, Diary of my Songs [Journal de mes mélodies] transl. by Winifred Radford (London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1985) Marie-Claire Rohinsky, ed., The Singer’s Debussy (New York: Pelion Press, 1987) Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years (New York: Vintage Books, 1968). 20TH CENTURY FRENCH ART SONGS Mélodies française du XXe siècle Edited by Carol Kimball Published by Éditions Durand DF 16250/HL 50565798 High Voice edition DF 16251/HL 50565799 Medium/Low Voice edition Distributed in Europe and Asia by Hal Leonard MGB Distributed in North and South America by Hal Leonard Distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Hal Leonard Australia Download & Print Introductory Notes Complete Online Introductory Notes, Unabridged copyright © 2015 Editions Durand An abridged version of editor Carol Kimball’s “Introduction” appears in the High Voice and Medium/Low Voice publications. Her complete length “Introduction” appears below. See the publications for the poetry texts in French and translations in English. GEORGES AURIC CLAUDE DEBUSSY HENRI DUTILLEUX GABRIEL FAURÉ REYNALDO HAHN ARTHUR HONEGGER JACQUES LEGUERNEY OLIVIER MESSIAEN DARIUS MILHAUD FRANCIS POULENC MAURICE RAVEL ALBERT ROUSSEL ERIK SATIE DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC GEORGES AURIC (1899-1983) George Auric was something of a child prodigy, performing a piano recital at the Musicale Indépendante at the age of fourteen. The following year, the Société Nationale de Musique performed several songs he had composed. He studied composition at the Paris Conservatoire with Georges Caussade, and later with Vincent d’Indy and Albert Roussel at the Schola Cantorum de Paris. Before he was twenty, Auric had orchestrated and written incidental music for several stage productions and ballets. He composed a significant amount of avant-garde music during the years between 1910-20. Around 1914, he widened his acquaintances to include members of Les Six, a group of composers informally associated with Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau, and became a part of their group. Auric and Francis Poulenc became fast friends and remained so for life. Music criticism was an important part of Auric’s career; his writing focused on promoting the ideals of Les Six and Cocteau. He was also especially known for his film scores, which are consistently imaginative. He forged a major career in the English movies of the 1940s and ’50s. Among his most well-known scores is the music for the film Moulin Rouge. Other popular film titles with scores by Auric include The Lavender Hill Mob, Roman Holiday, Beauty and the Beast, and Bonjour Tristesse. In 1962 he became the director of the Opéra National de Paris and later, chairman of SACEM, the French Performing Rights Society. Auric continued to write classical chamber music until his death. Le Jeune sanguine (1940) from Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin poem by Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969) This mélodie is the second song in Auric’s cycle titled Trois poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin. Vilmorin’s poetry reverberates with sensitivity to affairs of the heart. She was one of Poulenc’s preferred poets; he set her poetry when writing specifically for the female voice, such as in Fiançailles pour rire. A sort of veiled humor is at the heart of this text that describes a young hussy whose lover departs early with the dawn’s first light, leaving her weeping disconsolately. Auric provides a prelude and postlude for formal balance as the miserable young woman mourns her loss. He also inserts several unexpected and amusing measures of a tango as the young man arches his back and leaves the sound of her sobbing. For his three Vilmorin songs, Auric used the style of a chansonette, or more popular song. Printemps (1935) Poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Auric composed this lilting waltz song for a play by Edouard Bourdet titled La Reine Margot (1935). The celebrated musical theatre actress-singer Yvonne Printemps created the role of Queen Margot of Navarre at Théâtre de la Michodière. Auric and Francis Poulenc collaborated on the incidental music for this play; Poulenc took the second act, Auric the first. Poulenc composed the Suite française and the song “A sa guitare”; Auric’s contribution was “Printemps.” Yvonne Printemps sang both songs in the play. Both composers used texts by Pierre de Ronsard, and the musical style of each is reminiscent of the Renaissance. Ronsard’s original poem had twenty-three stanzas. Auric set only the first three. BACK TO TOP CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Claude Debussy wrote expertly for the voice and was acutely responsive to transforming poetic nuance into musical expression. Possibly no other French composer was as attuned to blending poetry and music. His literary taste was highly refined and he maintained a visible and active role in the literary and artistic circles of his time. He chose to set poetry of his contemporaries, notably Verlaine and Mallarmé. Verlaine’s verse with its inherent musical qualities, provided Debussy with poetry for numerous works. For Debussy, poetry as poetry was the paramount determinant of the musical texture. His ability to detect the essence of a poem and perfectly transform it into musical expression makes his mélodies unique in the history of French song. Le promenoir des deux amants (1904, 1910) poems by Tristan l’Hermite (c. 1601-1656) “Auprès de cette grotte sombre,” the first song, made its first appearance with the title “La Grotte,” song two of Trois chansons de France of 1904. In 1910, it was retitled and combined with two other poems by Tristan l’Hermite (“Crois mon conseil, chère Climène” and “Je tremble en voyant ton visage”) to form the miniature cycle Le Promenoir de deux amants, which has been called the finest of all Debussy’s works for voice and piano. It is also the least-often performed. Debussy chose the texts from Les Amours de Tristan, a collection by the seventeenth-century poet Tristan l’Hermite. The poems are set close to a grotto, secluded and silent. The transparent, barely stirring waters mingle with the silence of the cloistered spot, creating a dreamlike atmosphere. Debussy establishes an intimate, tender mood immediately and maintains this fragile mix of sound and color throughout the three mélodies. The interplay of resonance and texture in voice and piano results in an exquisite blend of light and shade, perfectly complementing l’Hermite’s poetic images. Subtly inflected vocal phrases are key to recreating the infinite calm and Pelléas-like atmosphere of the poetry, a perfect fusion of stillness and sensuality. Fêtes galantes II (1904) poems by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) Debussy’s fascination with the work of the French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine resulted in his setting to music no fewer than seventeen of Verlaine’s texts. He composed two sets of three songs each, both titled Fêtes galantes, the first in 1892, and the second in 1904. Fêtes galantes II, Debussy’s last setting of Verlaine, closely following the composition of his opera Pélleas et Mélisande, is representative of the composer’s mature vocal works. It is marked by sparser textures, freer tonalities and a more concentrated compositional style than the first set; but like the first set, Fêtes galantes II presents three unrelated songs. None of the Watteau-like scenes are found here; rather, these three poems are filled with mystery, and are without sentimentality. The theme of time appears in each of the poems: the first, sentimental youthful remembrances; the second, inexorable fleeting time; and finally in the last song, time never to be reclaimed. “Les Ingénus” recalls the first awakenings of sexual attraction, and deals with the breathless awe with which a group of unsophisticated young men of the mid-nineteenth century view their similarly naïve female companions. The scene unfolds in a highly chromatic texture, skillfully balanced to preserve the delicate, poignant images in Verlaine’s verse. Debussy’s free-floating harmonies are carefully contrived to complement the uncertain emotions and repressed sensations of the youths in the poem. “Le Faune” begins with a prelude; time unravels in an inflexible dance featuring a rhythmic, hypnotic figure in the piano, imaging the traditional reed pipe and “tambourin,” a small drum played with a stick. The old terra-cotta statue in Verlaine’s poem is probably the woodland god Pan, playing a monotonous rhythm that is both sensual and slightly menacing, matching the mood of the two mélancolique pélerins. Mesmerized by the repetitive rhythms of drum and reed flute, the dejected travelers are caught in the whirlpool of passing time, which spins past as they watch helplessly. “Colloque sentimental.” Colloquial (colloque) refers to ordinary speech or conversation. This disturbing poem is the touchstone of one of Debussy’s great mélodies. It is the last poem in Verlaine’s collection titled Fêtes galantes, and provides a chilling climax. It blends themes of despair, death and disillusion. In this extraordinary song, the ghosts of two lovers meet in a wintry park. As they speak of their former love, their words match the setting: glacial and detached from feeling. Throughout the song their wintry words are enhanced by Debussy’s simple and subtle vocal treatment: one voice urgent and persistent, the other stonily indifferent. Debussy’s manipulation of musical texture between voice and piano is masterful. The sparse vocal lines are almost speech-like, and the piano figures mirror the frozen landscape in which this conversation–equally cold–takes place. The song’s kinship to Debussy’s opera Pélleas et Mélisande is unmistakable. The listener becomes one with the poem’s narrator, straining to see and hear the couple’s conversation in the icy cold of the deserted, frozen park. Debussy reaches back to “En sourdine” (the first mélodie of Fêtes galantes I), takes the wistful song of the nightingale, and inserts it into this song at various points. The nightingale’s melody (“voix de nôtre dessespoir, le rossignol chantera”) provides a touching and melancholy association, linking the two sets of Fêtes galantes together symbolically and musically, foreshadowing the disenchantment of love hinted at in “En sourdine” with the lovers’ conversation in “Colloque sentimental,” and unifying the two sets by a subtle musical component. This panel of three mélodies was Debussy’s last setting of the poetry of Paul Verlaine. Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons (1915) poem by the composer This is Debussy’s last song, written to his own text, a Christmas carol for children made homeless by World War I. Its intensity comes from its simple sincerity. Debussy composed it on the eve of his first operation for the cancer that would end his life two years later. It was his personal protest against the invasion of northern France by the German armies. When asked for permission to orchestrate the song, Debussy refused, saying, “I want this piece to be sung with the most discreet accompaniment. Not a word of the text must be lost, inspired as it is by the rapacity of our enemies. It is the only way I have to fight the war.” Originally composed in 1915 for piano and voice, Debussy also created a version for children’s chorus, and in 1916, a version for piano and two sopranos. BACK TO TOP HENRI DUTILLEUX (1916-2013) Henri Dutilleux studied at the Paris Conservatory with Maurice Emmanuel. He received the Prix de Rome in 1938 at age twenty-two, and went on to work at the Paris Opéra and the French Radio. France’s musical institutions defined his career: in 1961, he joined the faculty at the école Normale de Musique, teaching composition. In 1970, he taught at the Paris Conservatoire. He destroyed many of his early works, considering them derivative of Ravel, the preeminent composer in France during his youth. His music that had been published avoided demolition. After World War II, Dutilleux concentrated almost exclusively on instrumental and orchestral music, much of which has been widely programmed and recorded. His songs are not well known. In the chronological catalogue of his compositions, beginning in 1929, the Quatre mélodies for mezzo soprano or baritone is only the eleventh entry. It also exists in an orchestral version. The collection is dedicated to the French baritone Charles Panzéra and his wife, pianist Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot, prominent interpreters of French song in the interwar years. Gabriel Fauré dedicated his last cycle, L’horizon chimérique, to Panzéra. Quatre mélodies (1942) uses poems by four different poets and presents a delightful collection of moods, although it must be admitted that the level of the poetry is not uniformly high: “Féérie au clair de lune” (poem by Raymond Genty), a graceful scherzo of dancing fairies that evokes Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; “Pour une amie perdue” (Edmond Borsent); “Regards sur l’infini” (Anna de Noailles); and “Fantasio” (André Bellessort). The last mélodie is the most successful of the set and is one of two songs from the set (the other being “Pour une amie perdue”) that Dutilleux acknowledged. He wanted to exclude the first and third songs because their poetry was relatively mediocre. Fantasio (1942) from Quatre Mélodies poem by André Bellessort (1866-1942) “Fantasio” (the original title of Bellessort’s poem is “Les funérailles de Fantasio”) is a colorful poem that chronicles the funeral of the titled character, who has expired before the text begins. The poem, set in Venice during Carnival, is full of glittering and compelling imagery that changes quickly, following the pace of the Carnival. Musical textures are skillfully handled and exhibit some of Dutilleux’s developing style. “Pauvre Fantasio,” is heard several times during the text, acting as both a funereal chant that unifies the proceedings and perhaps as well, keeping the mourners’ footsteps marching together. BACK TO TOP GABRIEL FAURÉ (1845-1924) Gabriel Fauré was one of the great composers of French song who, with Duparc and Debussy, perfected the mélodie as a true art song form. He composed about a hundred songs, all original in conception, constantly developing in style, and pointing the way to future works. His songs express a broad range of emotion and a great variety of musical textures, extending the musical parameters of the genre and inspiring new techniques of song compositions. His songs are often divided into three compositional periods for purposes of study and definition. Fauré has been characterized as a skillful watchmaker; with great precision his songs, which overflow with subtle nuances and delicate detail. His approach is in keeping with the French musical aesthetic: elegant and rational, dealing with sentiment rather than literal sensation. He was able to capture the entire poetic mood of each poem he set and to create an aura around it with his musical setting. Dans la fôret de septembre, Op. 85, No. 1 (1902) poem by Catulle Mendès (1841-1909) This touching poem symbolizes the onset of old age. Mendès was among the founders of a literary magazine, La Revue fantaisiste, which published many poems of the Parnassian poets. Fauré’s musical style perfectly suited this style of poetry: elegance of style, richness of rhyme, regularity and symmetry of rhythm. The Parnassians avoided the excessively romantic and aimed for “art-for-art’s sake.” Fauré was nearly sixty years old when he composed this mélodie, and his reaction to this poem is beautifully poignant. The words describe the poet’s reflective walk through a quiet, somber forest, capturing the chill of mortality and the overall mood of the turning point of life. The ancient forest, sensing a kindred spirit, provides the walker with a sign of friendship and understanding. Fauré set this contemplative poem in a rich harmonic musical texture with a vocal line that borders on quasi-recitative-like shapes. The solemn thoughts of old age call forth a melancholy, but it is a subtle melancholy. It is almost hymn-like in the fusion of words, emotions, and musical texture. This mélodie may be considered as marking the threshold to the final period of Fauré’s compositions. Accompagnement, Op. 85, No. 3 (1902) poem by Albert Victor Samain (1858-1900) This mélodie is a beautiful barcarolle–a nighttime scene, silvery and hazy, alluring but unreal. The image of the poet rowing on the lake is reflected in the musical texture. Fauré had a lifelong fascination with water imagery in music; this poem offers a little reel of unfolding pictures of a moonlight journey a dark lake. The words “dans le rêve” tell us that this is all a dream. This is a rarely sung Fauré mélodie that yields great rewards for the performer. Chanson, Op. 94 (1906) poem by Henri di Régnier (1864-1936) This poem has a gentle charm and a calm simplicity. It is the last of Fauré’s madrigals that include delicate love songs such as “Lydia,” and “Clair de lune.” It has a wonderful fluidity that is a perfect foil for the poetic images The text is a simple set of variations on one theme: nothing on earth has any meaning unless the beloved somehow touches it. Fauré’s reaction to the words called forth a musical setting of delicate transparency and limited range. It is not well known; like “Le Don silencieux,” “Chanson” was published as a single song and therefore not widely disseminated. It is an example of exquisitely planned musical economy, and definitely belongs in Fauré’s third period of musical compositions. Le Don silencieux, Op. 92 (1906) poem by Marie Closset (1875-1952), under the pseudonym Jean Dominique Here is another little known Fauré song, a rarity because it was published separately and was never included in any of the Fauré recueils. The poem has a gentle melancholy–the plea of a timid lover, a mixture of hope and imagined disappointment. The words are tender and flowing, but the overall mood is one of unrelieved sadness. This song marks the beginning of Fauré’s third compositional period, which includes the cycles La Chanson d’Eve, Le Jardin clos, Mirages, and L’Horizon chimérique. Writing of this mélodie in a letter to his wife, Fauré said, It does not in the least resemble any of my previous works, nor anything that I am aware of; I am very pleased about this...It translates the words gradually as they unfold themselves; it begins, opens out, and finishes, nothing more, nevertheless it is unified. 1 NOTES: Quoted in Graham Johnson, Gabriel Fauré: The Songs and their Poets (London: Guildhall School of Music and Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2009), 291. Quotation from Jean-Michel Nectoux, Gabriel Fauré: A Musical Life, trans. Roger Nichols (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 304. This is a translation of Fauré’s letter to his wife of 17 August 1906. BACK TO TOP REYNALDO HAHN (1875-1947) Reynaldo Hahn, Venezuelan by birth, came to Paris with his family at age four and made a brilliant career. In addition to his career as a composer and singer, he was director of the Paris Opéra, music critic for the newspaper Figaro, and conductor of the Salzburg Festival. He was enough of a scholar to edit some of the works of Rameau. He maintained close friendships throughout his life with actress Sarah Bernhardt and writer Marcel Proust. During the Belle époque, French mélodie was at the height of its development. Hahn was a habitué of the most fashionable salons, where he was in demand as a performer. On these occasions, he usually sang and played his own accompaniment, often with a cigarette dangling from his lips. The art of singing was one of his major passions, and he wrote three books on singing (Du chant, Thèmes varies, and L’oreille au guet), as well as a memoir of Sarah Bernhardt. Hahn’s songs are models of French restraint–devoid of overt display, with beautiful melodies in a modest vocal range. They reflect the style of his teacher, Jules Massenet. Hahn composed approximately ninety-five works for solo voice: eighty-four mélodies, five English songs to texts of Robert Louis Stevenson, and six Italian songs in the Venetian dialect. After 1912, Hahn composed in larger forms: opera, operetta, and film music. Perhaps his most famous work is his operetta Ciboulette (1923), which is still performed. À Chloris (1916) poem by Théophile de Viau (1590-1626) “À Chloris” is No. 14 in Deuxième volume de vingt mélodies, the last major publication of Hahn’s songs during his lifetime. In many of his later songs, he turned to a deliberately archaic style. “À Chloris” features an elegant vocal line above a piano texture that features Baroque musical characteristics; it is its own piece, with ornamented melody and chaconne-like bass. Vocal line and piano piece are woven into a musical tapestry that is both declarative and intimate. Poet Théophile de Viau was considered one of the most influential libertin poets during Louis XIII’s reign. The libertins’ verses had a unique charm that is instantly appealing, but somewhat artificial. Despite this, de Viau’s love poetry is not bland, but full of suggestive passion and elegant wit. BACK TO TOP ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892-1955) Arthur Honegger composed over forty mélodies for voice and piano. Taken as a whole, they are diverse and imaginative. For his texts, he favored contemporary poets such as Jean Cocteau, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Claudel, and Paul Fort. He also chose to set unrelated poems by a single poet, such as his Poesies (Cocteau) and Alcools (Apollinaire). Poetry with strong imagery appealed to the dramatist in his personality. For Honegger, as for most successful mélodie composers, the word provides the starting place. He is quoted as saying: For me, the music a song is always dependent upon the poetic model. It must join so closely with the poetry, that they become inseparable and one can picture the poem in wholly musical terms. This is not to say that the music becomes subservient. It must be so crafted that it can stand on its own merits, playable without the text, logical and complete. 1 Born of Swiss parents in Le Havre, France, Arthur Honegger initially studied for two years at the Zurich Conservatory, but enrolled in the Paris Conservatoire from 1911 to 1918, studying with Charles-Marie Widor and Vincent d’Indy. Some of his more familiar large vocal works include the dramatic psalm Le roi David (King David), composed in 1921 and still in the choral repertoire; and his dramatic oratorio of 1935, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher (Joan of Arc at the stake), with text by Paul Claudel, considered to be one of his finest works. Between the world wars, he composed nine ballets and three vocal stage works, among works in other genres. His total compositional catalog is an impressive list of music: orchestral works, chamber music, concertos, ballets, operas, operettas, and oratorios. Widely known as a train enthusiast, he was passionately interested in locomotives, to which he attributed almost human characteristics. His “mouvement symphonique,” Pacific 231, gained him early acclaim in 1923. Honegger’s musical style is a fascinating mixture of impressionistic effects peppered with penetrating dissonances. He had a fondness for mixing tonalities and using modality. His compositions for the voice display an eclectic focus of coloristic harmonies and architectural clarity. He was a member of Les Six, but unlike most of that group, did not share their overwhelming reaction against German romanticism. Honegger’s musical style is fuller and more serious than his colleagues. He and Darius Milhaud were close friends. Honegger’s generous body of song has proved of enduring interest to contemporary performers. His was a distinctive voice in the vocal music of the twentieth-century French mélodie. Trois Psaumes (1940-41) from the Huguenot Psalter Psaumes XXXIV and CXL translated by Théodore de Bèze (1519-1605) Psaume CXXXVIII translated by Clément Marot (1496-1544) The spirit of Bach shines in the first psaume, “Psalm 34,” in which a chant-like vocal line alternates with a gently moving episodic keyboard part. This call and response continues until the last three vocal phrases, when the vocal line merges with the instrumental texture in a psalm of praise. The second song is “Psalm 140,” “ô Dieu donne-moi la déliverance de cet homme pernicieux” (O God, deliver me from this evil man). Honegger’s biographer, Harry Halbreich, suggests that the “evil man” who was oppressing Europe in those last days of 1940 might be the reason for Honegger’s text choice. This piece was composed before the first and third songs. Its emotional mood peaks with the chorale tune “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” 2 The last song in the set, “Psalm 138,” has the Latin title “Confiteor tibi, Domine” (I thank thee, O Lord) and is a paraphrase by Clément Marot, one of the greatest of the French Renaissance poets. It contains a familiar chorale tune, which is used in canon between voice and piano. NOTES: Arthur Canter and Rachel Joselson, Liner notes, The Songs of Arthur Honegger and Jacques Leguerney. Rachel Joselson, Réne Lecuona , piano. Albany Records, TROY691, 2004. Harry Halbreich, trans. Roger Nichols, Arthur Honegger (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1999), 165. BACK TO TOP JACQUES LEGUERNEY (1906-1997) Most of Jacques Leguerney’s sixty-eight mélodies were composed and published from 1940 to 1964. Many were commissioned and premiered by French baritone Gérard Souzay, his sister, soprano Geneviève Touraine, and pianist Jacqueline Bonneau. Early songs are comparable in mood and style with Ravel or Roussel (who encouraged Leguerney’s composition); later songs have been compared to those of his contemporary, Poulenc. Leguerney writes virtuoso piano parts–often dramatic, and with such an individual sense of harmonic style and color that Pierre Bernac reportedly described them as “mélodies de pianist.” 1 When asked about Leguerney’s songs, Gérard Souzay wrote, “How does one describe this music which is, at the same time, classic and modern? It is pure, but colorfully nuanced; it speaks to the heart as well as the mind–at times calm at times witty–wise, yet sensual...” 2 Many of Leguerney’s songs deal with themes of love and nature, expressing a huge range of emotions from deeply felt meditation to wild, ribald humor. Leguerney stopped composing in 1964, and his songs became neglected. The quality of Leguerney’s text setting, lyrical beauty, and harmonic innovations all call for his songs to be better known and more widely performed. Jacques Leguerney was drawn to the work of Renaissance poets, notably Ronsard. There are eight collections titled Poèmes de la Pléaide, representing settings of sixteenth and seventeenth-century French poetry and totaling thirty-two songs. Additionally, there are cycles and other collections [for a complete listing of Leguerney’s songs, see Dibbern, Kimball, and Choukroun, Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney]. 3 They may be thought of as the last in the great mainstream of twentieth-century French song. La Caverne d’écho (1954) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 7 poem by Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant (1594-1661) Dedication: Josiane and Jean Cier. First performance: Bernard Kruysen, baritone; Jean-Charles Richard, pianist. 29 May 1965, Radio France Culture. Marc-Antoine Girard, sieur de Saint-Amant, wrote poetry of great descriptive power, and his use of language set him apart from the other seventeenth-century poets. He was also an adept musician and skillful lute player, writing verses that often describe musical sounds linked to visual images. The poem takes place in a dark cave, home of the nymph, Echo; it is a charmed place, absolutely still and peaceful. The poet’s lute resounds inside the cavern as he tries to soothe the inconsolable Echo, who mourns for her lover Narcissus. Leguerney creates the grotto’s mysterious resonance with bitonality. Piano figures illustrate the strumming of the lute. The text contains many sounds with the consonant “r.” The rolling quality of this speech sonority re-creates the cavern’s resonance. The closing measures of the mélodie produce a striking effect as the singer’s voice echoes eerily in the cavern, blending with the piano’s resonance and creating a remarkably realistic echo. À son page (1944) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 2 poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Dedicated to Gérard Souzay. First performance: Gérard Souzay, baritone; Jacqueline Robin (Bonneau). 3 May 1945, Salle Gaveau, Paris. This is a lusty scene with four characters: a nobleman tipsy from drink, his page, and two women, Jeanne and Barbe. Carpe diem is the theme here. The singer philosophizes on this idea while enjoying his wine and the tender companionship of the two beautiful women. Leguerney evokes the crackling staccato of a stylized harpsichord with rhythmic accents in the piano. The text is brilliantly set with jagged vocal lines and driving rhythms that illustrate the singer’s intoxication. It ends with Leguerney’s repetition of the last poetic line and the addition of nonsense syllables which fit beautifully into the imagery and mood of Ronsard’s colorful characters. Je me lamente (1943) from Poèmes de la Pléiade, Volume 1 poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) Dedicated to Geneviève Touraine. First performance: Paul Derenne, tenor; Jeanne Blancard, pianist. 29 March 1944, Salle de l’Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris. This is one of Leguerney’s most beautiful songs, setting Pierre de Ronsard’s text from his collection of love poems for Marie Dupin, a country girl from a small village in southern France. She was half his age and probably represented the youth he constantly pursued. It has been suggested that the Marie in question was probably Marie de Clèves, passionately adored by Henri III. 4 Leguerney called this mélodie a constant crescendo from beginning to end. 5 Ronsard’s anguish is captured with a texture of stark chords, crowned by a regal and sustained vocal line. As the song progresses, the poet’s anguish is embodied in a more expansive texture, bidding Marie a happy resting place near God or in the Elysian fields. NOTES: Liner notes by Mary Dibbern. Mélodies sur poèmes de la Renaissance (Jacques Leguerney).Harmonia Mundi France. LP recording HMC 1171. Letter to the author. Quoted in Mary Dibbern, Carol Kimball, and Patrick Choukroun. Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2001), 3. Ibid., 289-295. Ibid., 69. See note 20. Ibid., 70. BACK TO TOP OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908-1992) Olivier Messiaen was born in 1908 in Avignon, France, into a literary family. He grew up around words and absorbed their shapes, colors and sounds naturally. His father, Pierre Messiaen, was a well-known translator of Shakespeare, and his mother, Cécile Sauvage, was a poet. As a youngster, before beginning to compose music, he had an especially perceptive ear attuned to the unique prosody of the French language. Early in his compositional career, he published a book titled Technique de mon langage musical (1944). About his musical setting of words, Jane Manning observes: ...the syllables themselves create a glittering mosaic of sonorities and subtle resonances, in addition to their actual meaning (many of the poems do not translate at all satisfactorily). The composer’s awareness of the minutiae of verbal enunciations and articulations is miraculous. Each vocal sound can be precisely placed as intended, all dynamics are scrupulously plotted, and the performer’s involvement and intimate connection to the music is enhanced by the sensual nature of words projection... 1 He often used stained glass to explain his music. When viewed from a distance, the myriad details blend into a single entity, whose purpose is to dazzle the listener. Understanding is not necessary, feeling is the prime requisite. The music of Olivier Messiaen is a skillfully designed and unique language, with meaning and form kept separate. Its meaning is unchangeable, harkening back to Gregorian chant, culminating in instruments that are able to prolong sound (organ, strings, or the ondes Martenot). Messiaen’s musical language is defined by its rhythms and tone colors. His uncanny instinct for associating sound with color produced works unique in their concept of the combination of sounds. He said that when he heard or read music, his mind’s eye saw colors that move with the music; he sensed these colors, and at times he precisely indicated their arrangements in his scores. His fascination with birdsong was lifelong; he referred to himself as an ornithologist and tracked birds and their songs all over the world. He considered their resonances as songs and not merely sounds. He notated these on manuscript paper and they found their way into his music. Trois mélodies (1930) poems by Olivier Messiaen, Cécile Sauvage (1883-1927) This little cycle of songs is Messiaen’s first recognized work for voice and piano. The songs are modest in length and not typical of Messiaen’s later style, but show influences of late Fauré and Duparc in the overall musical texture. There is only one song in his vocal compositions in which Messiaen set the poetry of another poet. It is found in this cycle, which uses the text of his mother, the poet Cécile Sauvage, who died three years before the composition of this work. The three movements form a warm and delicate little triptych. Two of Messiaen’s own poems stand on either side of the poem by Cécile Sauvage, throwing that charming little poem into high relief. “Pourquoi?” introduces a litany of the pleasures of nature: birdsong, the unfolding seasons, and water images. The poet becomes emotional, asking why all these bring him no joy. “La Sourire,” the shortest song of the set, is a beautiful microcosm of intimate and spiritual understanding between two people. It is a delicate example of musical economy and word setting in a quasi-recitative style. The last song, “La fiancée perdue,” offers fleeting hints of Messiaen’s cycle to come, Poèmes pour Mi–most specifically, the final song. Here, the poet prays for divine blessing on the soul of the “fiancée” in the title. The fervent incantation illuminates and affirms man’s connection to a higher authority. Examining the poetic content of the three texts, we are struck by the images that underlie the words: the emotional outburst “pourquoi,” (why?), perhaps questioning the death of Cécile, followed by Cécile’s tender affirmation of love, and finally, the prayer asking for Divine grace and the blessing of the soul of the departed. NOTES: Jane Manning, “The Songs and Song Cycles,” in The Messiaen Companion, ed. Peter Hill (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1995), 107. BACK TO TOP DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974) Darius Milhaud was probably the most prolific composer of the group known as Les Six (Francis Poulenc, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Georges Auric, and Milhaud). The group was unified by friendship rather than a single musical style. Championed by influential writer Jean Cocteau and composer Erik Satie, Les Six often presented their works at the same concerts and met with great regularity–often at Milhaud’s house–to make music and exchange ideas. Louis Durey observed that it was the wide diversity in their personalities and musical styles that gave the group its rich depth and permitted its development. Embodied in the credo of their musical thought was relative sparseness of texture and clarity. Turn-of-the-century France offered popular entertainments that drew the French to an environment of merry-go-rounds, shooting galleries, outdoor concerts, circuses, and a jumble of excitement. Milhaud was fascinated by Parisian street life, and could hear the sounds of the Montmartre fair from his apartment. Often on their group outings, Les Six went together to the Cirque de Médrano to see the Fratellinis, a famous family of clowns of that day. Milhaud observed that their acts were worthy of the Commedia dell’arte. 1 Trois Poèmes de Jean Cocteau, Op. 59 (1920) poems by Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) Trois poèmes de Jean Cocteau is like lyric fragments. The small-range vocal lines have a sparse lyricism–one of emotional mood rather than overt melody. The little mélodies are skillful studies in brevity. These match Cocteau’s rather enigmatic poems that exemplify the style termed dépouillé (stripped to the essentials), his aesthetic creed. Milhaud dedicated the songs to Satie. The three miniatures are a colorful kaleidoscope of the circus and the outdoor fairs that entranced the French during this period. “Fumée” describes the equestrienne of the Cirque Médrano atop a horse, jumping through hoops, captured in Toulouse-Lautrec’s familiar painting titled “L’écuyère au Cirque Fernando (1888); “Fête de Bordeaux” is a description of the merry-go-round at the Bordeaux fair; and “Fête de Montmartre” evokes the nighttime boats and sailors, possibly having to do with a game involving camouflaged ships found at the Montmartre fair. Milhaud infuses stylistic and melodic elements of folk songs and children’s tunes into the tiny pieces, tying the innate excitement of these popular destinations to simple, childlike reactions. NOTES: Laurence Davies, The Gallic Muse (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1967), 164. BACK TO TOP FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963) Francis Poulenc’s 150 mélodies form the largest body of songs to be added to French vocal literature in the twentieth century. Poulenc’s flair for the dramatic, combined with his superb skill in mixing poetry and music, produced songs that singers find immensely gratifying, not only for their musical value, but for their heightened sense of drama. Poulenc’s mélodies reflect concern and feeling for declamation, inflection, breathing, and above all, show extraordinary warmth of feeling for the human voice. He was fond of saying, “J’aime la voix humaine!” The sophistication of Poulenc’s songs spring from their poetic inspirations. Poulenc was quite knowledgeable about poetry, and chose his texts carefully. His gift of divining the inner life of the texts he set produced songs that do more than merely illustrate the poems. His gift for melody is at the very heart of all his songs and seems to assert itself naturally in shaping the color, weight, and meaning of the texts he set. Ce doux petit visage (1938) poem by Paul éluard (1895-1952) Paul Eluard was one of Poulenc’s three main poets. This is a beautiful introduction to Eluard’s poetry, lyrical and passionately intense. The simplicity of Poulenc’s setting allows the poem to shine. It is one of Poulenc’s tiny gems, and he admitted his partiality to the short song. Eluard’s skill at evoking nostalgia and melancholy are seen here, linked to lost youth. The mélodie is dedicated to the memory of Raymonde Linossier, Poulenc’s most intimate childhood friend, who influenced his literary taste and musical tendencies. He said: “I have a great liking for this short song. Raymonde Linossier was my best advisor for the music of my youth. How many times, during the years since her death, I would have liked to have had her opinion on this or the other of my works.” 1 La Grenouillère (1938) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) “La Grenouillère” is an outstanding example of Poulenc’s romantic lyricism. This is a text by Guillaume Apollinaire describing the Ile de Croissy, an island in the Seine on the outskirts of Paris, frequented by artists and their models, and celebrated in paintings by Monet, Manet, and Renoir. “The Froggery” was a restaurant on the island. The overall images of happy days that cannot be relived can be seen in Pierre Auguste Renoir’s paintings Les Déjeuner des canotiers (The Boatman’s Luncheon), or La Grenouillère. In this lament for boating parties on the Seine, vocal phrases are sustained and languid, floating over a slowly rocking piano accompaniment. The lazy piano figures mirror the empty tethered boats rocking on the water, bumping against each other, and give expression to the sweet melancholy of the poet’s words. Montparnasse (1945) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Apollinaire’s poem is dated 1912. Poulenc writes in his journal of songs that it took him four years to complete “Montparnasse,” almost phrase by phrase, and that he had no regrets about the length of time it took because “it is one of my best songs.” 2 It is a sentimental and heartfelt tribute to Paris. Both Apollinaire and Poulenc loved the city and it played a continuing role in their work. “Montparnasse” is about the idyllic artistic existence lived at the edge of Paris. Poulenc wrote in his diary: “Let us imagine this Montparnasse all at once discovered by Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Apollinaire.” 3 The mélodie has a carefree nonchalance about it; it is not sad, but thoughtful– a beautiful blend of poetic and musical lyricism. Poulenc’s vocal and harmonic textures are full of surprising harmonic details that bind this song–which he composed in fragments–together into a touching and expressive picture of Paris in the early years of the twentieth century. Bleuet (1939) poem by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Guillaume Apollinaire was one of Poulenc’s preferred poets. This is a wartime poem that Apollinaire penned in 1917 in Paris in convalescence after a head injury; both Apollinaire and Poulenc served in World War II. There are several word plays at work here. “Bleuet” was the nickname for French soldiers in World War I, because their uniforms were blue, like the color of a little cornflower, which is a “bleuet.” Also, “Un bleu” was the term used for a raw recruit. “Bleuet” is one of Poulenc’s most moving songs– agonizing in its emotional content yet noble in its message. It is a quiet and private moment in which a twenty-year-old boy who does not yet know all that life can be, is characterized–and addressed–by the poet in a sweetly serious speech. Poulenc wrote that for him, the key to the poem were the words, “It is five o’clock and you would know how to die.” 4 This song is simple, intimate, and poignant. Les Chemins de l’amour (1940) poem by Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) Poulenc composed this valse chantée as incidental music for Léocadia, a play by Jean Anouilh. Within the play, the song was described as a pseudo Viennese waltz, and functioned as a leitmotiv in the plot. Sung by Yvonne Printemps, one of France’s most celebrated musical theatre stars, “Les Chemins de l’amour” became a popular success. It embodies the relaxed elegance of a self-styled Viennese waltz style, encased in one of Poulenc’s haunting melodies. Banalités (1940) poems by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) Banalités is not a cycle, but a group of five songs. The poems have no connection with each other; however, their order provides a well-constructed recital group. They may be performed separately. The work is one of Poulenc’s most popular vocal works, and deservedly so. Poulenc chose contrasting poems, placing them so that the collection begins briskly and ends with lyrical gravity. “Chanson d’Orkenise” is Poulenc’s title for the poem contained in the strange mixture of prose and poetry that Apollinaire called Onirocritique. Orkenise is a road in Autun leading to the Roman gate of the same name. The musical setting has the feeling of a popular folk song. The narrator sings of a tramp leaving the city and a carter who is entering it - one leaving his heart there, one bringing his heart to be married. There is a word in the poem with a double meaning: “grise” can be translated as “gray” or “tipsy.” The merry quality of the song opens the set with gaiety, but both Apollinaire and Poulenc offer a little food for thought. “Hôtel” is a poem that immediately represented for Poulenc a hotel room in Montparnassse, where the idle poet wants only to bask in the sun’s warmth and smoke. Pierre Bernac referred to it as “the laziest song ever written.” 5 The piano figures are fashioned of Poulenc’s luxuriant chromatic harmonies, stacked as if to cushion the lethargy of the singer. “Fagnes de Wallonie” is set in the gloomy, desolate uplands of the Ardennes with a terrain of vast heaths, twisted trees, and peat bogs, swept by winds of considerable force. Its gloomy setting complements the melancholy mood of the poet. Poulenc’s spiky musical setting is a whirlwind that sweeps from beginning to end in a turbulent texture that demands precise articulation from singer and pianist. Sandwiched between Songs 3 and 5 is a tiny bonbon, “Voyage à Paris.” It resembles a little commercial jingle about Paris–“which one day love must have created”–an invitation to the pleasures of that beautiful city, away from “the dreary countryside.” Poulenc sprinkles his quicksilver setting–a valse-musette–with indications of “amiable” and “avec charme.” The composer referred to it as having “deliciously stupid lines...Anything that concerns Paris I approach with tears in my eyes and my head full of music.” 6 The cycle concludes with “Sanglots”, one of Apollinaire’s finest poems about the universality of lost love, a theme that Poulenc matches with exquisite modulations in a setting that embodies the essence of the words. The vocal lines are eloquently lyrical. The poem is difficult to understand because of the juxtaposition of the main narrative and the interior “asides,” that in effect form a poem within a poem. 7 The song has an elegant serenity that culminates in a stunning climactic point at the words: “Est mort d’amour ou c’est tout comme/ Est mort d’amour et le voici.” The ending lines of the song sustain the profoundly calm mood, bringing Banalités to its close. La Courte Paille (1960) poems by Maurice Carême (1899-1978) The last song cycle Poulenc composed was La Courte paille, on seven poems of Belgian poet Maurice Carême. Poulenc composed the songs for soprano Denise Duval, creator of leading roles in his three operas, hoping that she would sing them to her young son. Poulenc considered the mélodies very poetic and whimsical; unfortunately, Duval disliked the music and never did sing the cycle. Poulenc asked Carême to provide an overall title for the work and requested permission to change the titles of several selected poems: the original title of “Quelle aventure!” is “Une puce et l’éléphant”; “Le Reine de cœur” is “Vitres de lune”; “Le carafon” is “La carafe et le carafon.” For the cycle’s title, Carême chose La Courte Paille (The Short Straw), referring to drawing lots by the method of a short straw. Poulenc was delighted, saying the title symbolized his little musical game exactly. He also wrote in his diary, “They must be sung tenderly; that is the surest way to touch the heart of a child.” 8 The cycle is full of child-like innocence, whimsy and imagination, with a few shadowy undertones. The first song, “Le Sommeil,” is a beautiful lullaby to a restless child who cannot go to sleep, tossing and turning in his small bed. He seems ill, crying and perspiring, but hopefully will finally surrender to slumber. In “Quelle aventure!” the child describes an absurd happening: he saw a flea driving a carriage with a small elephant in it. The story grows more bizarre but the rhythmic pace never wavers, careening to the end of the song when the child wonders how on earth he’ll ever be able to persuade “Mama” that it really happened. The verses are witty, yet the shrieks of “Mon Dieu!” are laced with a feeling of childish terror. “La Reine du cœur” is a beautiful, languid melody that paints a picture of the mysterious Queen of Hearts, beckoning to visitors from her frosty castle, where she reigns over a court of lovers, including the young dead. In “Ba, Be, Bi, Bo, Bu...,” the child is chided “on all sides” about studying. The title of the song presents the French vowels, and the text contains words that make their plural with an “x” (“pou, chou, genou, hibou”). The formidable cat of the poem’s opening lines is none other than that tricky feline Puss-in-Boots! The entire song is a little tongue-twister, an exercise in diction and accuracy. “Les anges musiciens” are none other than the school children staying home on Thursday, the half-day school holiday in France in Poulenc’s time, practicing Mozart on their harps, just like good little angel musicians should do. “Le carafon” is a crazy little story of a carafe that longs for a baby carafe (carafon) just like the giraffe at the zoo, who has a girafon. This is a ridiculous rhyming game like those that children love to play. The text is full of whimsical characters: the carafe, a giraffe, a sorcerer astride a phonograph, Merlin, and finally, a carafon. “Lune d’Avril” is another lullaby, very slow and otherworldly, which serves as an epilogue. Bound together in a musical texture that features a syncopated pedal point, it is filled with enchanted images the child wishes to dream about: a land of joy, light, and flowers where all guns are silent. The ending leaves the listener suspended in a mood of unfinished magic. La Courte Paille is the last vocal music Poulenc composed. NOTES: Quoted in Pierre Bernac, Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1977), 125. Francis Poulenc, Journal de mes mélodies, trans. Winifred Radford (London: Victor Gollancz, 1985), 75. Ibid., 75. Ibid., 57. Bernac, 72. Poulenc, 67. The English translation of “Sanglots” has parentheses that delineate the “asides” so that both “poems” may be seen. These may be found in Pierre Bernac’s books Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs, page 75, or The Interpretation of French Song, pages 284-85 Poulenc, 109. BACK TO TOP MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937) The songs of Maurice Ravel represent a transition between the mature mélodies of Debussy and the vocal literature that followed, notably the songs of Les Six. Debussy dominated the French musical scene from the turn of the century until his death in 1918. It was Ravel who was regarded as the leading musical spokesman for France following World War I. He was a skillful craftsman and his songs have a sense of evenness of rhythmic structure and flow that call for scrupulous execution. The fusion of music and text into a logical whole was of utmost importance to him. He composed elegant and subtle mélodies, using classical phrase structure. His melodic phrases often tend toward modality. His songs range from those with a folk-like style to more to those that are more speech-like, and those that encompass a melodic romanticism. He was precise in his thought and his scoring, and scrupulous in his musical execution. His music encompassed some of the fascinating influences of the post-Wagnerian era. Ravel’s musical contributions were of utmost importance to this exciting and new era in French cultural history. He made notable contributions to musical literature for the piano, the French art song, opera, chamber music, orchestral literature, and the ballet. Sur l’herbe (1907) poem by Paul Verlaine (1833-1896) This mélodie is Ravel’s only setting of Verlaine. It has often been suggested that this poem was probably inspired by Watteau’s painting L’île enchantée. There is also a reference to a famous eighteenth-century dancer, Marie-Anne Cuppi, known as (La) Camargo, who was immortalized on canvas by the painter Nicolas Lancret. The scene is an outside gathering, elegant and artificial. A number of people are there, chief among them, a licentious abbé, slightly tipsy from a bit too much Cyprian wine. He exchanges a few disconnected gallantries with the ladies–innocent conversations on the surface, but sensuous in undertone. The conversation is disconnected; we do not know exactly who is speaking. Ravel shapes very flexible vocal phrases, in keeping with the abbé’s intoxicated state, underscored with graceful piano figures that evoke an eighteenth-century dance. In a letter to Jean-Aubrey, Ravel commented on “Sur l’herbe”: “In this piece, as in the Histoires naturelles, the impression must be given that one is almost not singing. A bit of preciosity is found there which is indicated moreover by the text and the music.” 1 Noël des jouets (1905) poem by the composer This is the only solo song for which Ravel wrote the text. It describes a Christmas manger scene, replete with the Virgin and Christ-child, animals, and angels. It embodies Ravel’s delight with tiny mechanical toys and figures, and his fascination with the unspoiled world of child-like experience. His genius for text painting is displayed in the delightful mélodie. The mechanical toys come to life in the piano figures. Ravel’s charming text creates the images around and over the crèche, with not a word wasted. Ravel commented that the music is “clear and plain, like the mechanical toys of the poem.” 2 This little song foreshadows other Ravel settings of make-believe, beginning with the song cycle Histoires naturelles and culminating with his opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges. The music of menacing dog Belzébuth foreshadows the music of the Beast in the Mother Goose Suite (Ma Mère lOye). Rêves (1927) poem by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) The poetry of Léon-Paul Fargue has been described as reflecting the union of dream and memory. This mélodie has a tender lyricism within a sparse musical texture. The text is fashioned of a series of miniature images that pass by rather quickly, unrelated, like the images found in dreams. For all their differences, they have a simplicity about them that seems timeless, existing together, as the poet says, “in a vague countryside.” When the dreamer finally awakens, the little fleeting pictures “die quietly.” The piano postlude perpetuates the dream state, creating an ethereal little microcosm that continues to draw the dreamer to it. Ronsard à son âme (1924) poem by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) In his Abrégé de l’art poétique français (1565) Pierre de Ronsard advocated the union of poetry and music, and Renaissance composers frequently set his poems. 3 In this strikingly simple mélodie, Ronsard speaks to his soul, calling it by a series of diminutives: little soul, dainty little one, sweet little one. Ravel uses a series of parallel fifths in the piano figures to invoke a Renaissance mood. This is Ronsard’s last poem, and Ravel’s last adaptation of Renaissance poetry. Ravel’s setting recalls the elegance of his early mélodie, “D’Anne qui me jecta de la neige,” to a poem of Clément Marot. Manteau de fleurs (1903) poem by Paul Barthélemy Jeulin (1863-1936) The poem notes everything in the garden that is pink–all the flowers that will become a beautiful cloak to complement the beauty of the lady of the poem. Ravel usually had very sophisticated taste in choosing texts; this particular poem is an unusual choice. It is a simple text, somewhat banal, but Ravel’s shimmering musical texture imparts a dramatic character for each flower in the poem. The overall piano texture suggests orchestral colors. The last section of the mélodie changes course slightly, with the piano harmonies creating a slightly wistful mood. Clearly, Ravel lavished a beautiful musical setting on a rather ordinary set of words. Don Quichotte à Dulcinée (1932-33) [Medium/Low Voice edition only] poems by Paul Morand (1888-1976) This miniature cycle was Ravel’s last vocal work. His musical portrait of the noble Spanish knight, Don Quixote, is embodied in three mélodies, all based on characteristic Spanish or Basque dance rhythms: (1) the guajira, alternating 6/8 and 3/4 meter; (2) the zorzica, a Basque dance in quintuple meter; and (3) the jota, a lively triple-metered Spanish dance. “Chanson Romanesque” presents the chivalrous idealist Don Quixote, confidently promising to rearrange everything in nature to his lady Dulcinea’s liking in order to win her favor. Dulcinea is in reality a poor farm girl, but the Don’s illusion will not be shaken. He remains authoritative and focused in his quest for her love. “Chanson épique” is Quixote’s reverent prayer to Saint Michael and Saint George, beseeching them to bless his sword and his Lady. Ravel creates a beautifully sustained and prayerful vocal line over a simple accompaniment. “Chanson à boire” is a exuberant drinking song. Although the Don’s tippling has made him overly boisterous, he never oversteps the bounds of his noble bearing. His robust laughter is heard in the piano figures and even a hiccup intrudes between “lorsque j’ai” and “lorsque j’ai bu.” NOTES: Maurice Ravel, in a letter to Jean-Aubrey written in September, 1907. Quoted in Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician (New York: Dover Publications, 1991), 165-66. Quoted in Orenstein, 161. Orenstein, 192. BACK TO TOP ALBERT ROUSSEL (1869-1937) In 1894 Albert Roussel left a highly successful career as a naval officer to pursue music. After completing his studies, he became professor of counterpoint at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. Satie and Varèse were among his students. Roussel was one of the most prominent French composers of the interwar period. He composed almost forty mélodies as well as chamber music, ballets, and operas. His style is eclectic but highly individual. Early works show the influence of Vincent d’Indy, works dating from 1910 to 1920 exhibit influences of Debussy and Ravel, but he turned to neoclassicism in his later compositions. His love for the sea was almost a spiritual attraction and continued to influence his music throughout his career. He had a fascination for distant places; his extended tour of Southeast Asia in 1909 had a tremendous influence on his composition. “Sarabande” and “Cœur en peril” are mélodies to texts of René Chalupt, a close friend. They are found in op. 20 and 50, respectively. Roussel’s overall musical catalogue is not extensive, but its quality is of an extremely high level, and his vocal writing in particular contains some mélodies of great delicacy and style, squarely in the French tradition. For Roussel, the word held primacy in his mélodies, being both transformed by its musical setting and merging with it to create a perfect union. Commenting on the quality of Roussel’s songs, composer Charles Koechlin is quoted as saying: “The sense of austerity pervading them, stemming simply from the composer’s natural reserve, heightens their expressiveness and further embellishes them; in language and content they are absolutely personal. This collection of songs is one which will last because its essence is undying sensitivity.” 1 Sarabande (1919) from Deux mélodies, Op. 20, No. 2 poem by René Chalupt This is surely one of Roussel’s most delicate and magical creations. His writing for the piano is particularly outstanding, placing Chalupt’s poem in an overall texture of elegance and veiled sensuality. There is an Oriental delicacy in Roussel’s musical evocation of the fluttering doves, feathers drifting into a pool, and the gentle drift of chestnut blossoms onto bare flesh. Cœur en péril (1933-34) from Deux mélodies, Op. 50, No. 1 poem by René Chalupt This mélodie is much different in mood–witty and flirtatious. It is the narrative of a young man eager to convince his ladylove of his fidelity. Vocal phrases are tuneful, with a spirited piano texture of Iberian flavor. NOTES: Liner notes, Dom Angelico Surchamp, trans. Elisabeth Carroll, Roussel Mélodies, Colette Alliot-Lugaz, Mady Mesplé, Kurt Ollmann, José Van Dam; Dalton Baldwin, Patrick Gallois. EMI Digital. CDS 7492712, 1987 BACK TO TOP ERIK SATIE (1866-1925) Erik Satie wrote very few songs and most of them date from late in his life. The eccentric father figure of the French avant-garde of the twentieth century had a wildly independent spirit that found its way into his musical compositions. Throughout his life, he kept a great deal of childlike inquisitiveness and innocence. He was a curious personality of unconventional habits whose sense of the absurd and whimsy permeated both his life and his music. Quintessential Satie compositions are laconic and witty. It was Satie who named Les Nouveaux Jeunes, soon known as Les Six, and influenced the early development of the group. La Statue de bronze (1916) from Trois Mélodies poem by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) This is Satie’s first setting of the poetry of Léon-Paul Fargue, the “Bohemian poet of Paris.” Satie used Fargue’s witty verses again for Ludions. The scene is a garden game–the jeu de tonneau. A bronze frog, perched atop a cabinet with numbered chambers, grows impatient of being the target of the game where metal disks are tossed into her mouth. She dreams of being freed from her pedestal and being able to use her wide-open mouth to utter “LE MOT.” 1 She wants to be free to join the other frogs gathered near the rust-colored washhouse “blowing musical bubbles from the soapy moonlight.” But the game continues, the disks rattle through her mouth into numbered compartments and at night, insects sleep in her mouth. This mélodie can be linked musically to “La Grenouille américaine,” found in Ludions. Both songs share piano figures derived from the café-concert chanson. Ludions (1923) poems by Léon-Paul Fargue (1876-1947) Ludions is the last of Satie’s purely vocal works, composed two years before his death, and is perhaps his finest set of songs. It epitomizes his lifelong quest for musical simplicity and his irreverence for the intricate compositional techniques and overactive emotions of the Impressionists. Ludions is translated as “bottle imps” (a ludion is a little figure suspended in a hollow ball, which descends or rises in a vase filled with water when one presses down on the elastic membrane covering the mouth of the vase). The cycle is a kaleidoscopic set of musical miniatures, riddled with puns and illogical phrases. Fargue’s nonsensical verse complements Satie’s musical aesthetic, and the two friends’ personalities closely matched one another. All the mélodies in Ludions are short, like tiny cameos. They are colorful, saucy, fantastic, and defy translation. “Air du rat,” “La Grenouille américaine,” and “Chanson du chat” are right out of the music hall, and Satie uses with a mock-serious “tongue-in-cheek” treatment for “Spleen” and “Air du poète.” Je te veux (1902) poem by Henry Pacory (1873-?) The valse chantée, or sung waltz was a favorite of the café concerts, for which Satie composed a number of works. Café concerts were a form of Parisian popular entertainment in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The all-musical programs were held outside; French popular singers presented repertoire that catered to lower and middle-class audiences who came to talk, eat, drink, and observe the long informal programs, for which there was no admission charge. “Je te veux” was composed for Paulette Darty, dubbed “the Queen of the slow waltz.” It was one of her signature musical presentations for the caf’conc (café concerts), and one that Darty remained associated with throughout her career. A statuesque blonde with an ample figure, Darty was a commanding performer who kept the most boisterous of the Saturday night audiences enthralled. Lyricist Henry Pacory’s rather explicit poem was watered down at Satie’s request before the song was published. La Diva de l’Empire (1904) poem by Charles Bessat, named Numa Blès (1871-1917) The “Diva de l’Empire,” 2 one of Satie’s café-concert songs, was another work written for and performed by Paulette Darty. It was composed for a Bonnaud-Blès music-hall revue called Dévidons la Bobine (Let’s Unwind the Bobbin) that toured several seaside resort towns. The British “diva” is a femme fatale performer who enchants all who see her. The song is a syncopated cakewalk describing her seductive beauty as she struts her stuff “showing the wiggling of her legs and some pretty frilly underwear.” Interspersed at points along the way with English words: Greenaway, baby, little girl, etc. The piano provides a jaunty ragtime rhythm throughout that melds perfectly with the suggestive text. NOTES: ”Le mot” has a double meaning. It was the title of a broadsheet published by Jean Cocteau between 1914-15 and is short for “le mot de Cambronne,” a polite way of saying “merde.” Cambronne was a famous French general who replied “Merde!” when asked to surrender. In Steven Moore Whiting, Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 43. Empire refers to the Empire Theatre of Varieties, Leicester Square, London. BACK TO TOP DÉODAT DE SÉVERAC (1872-1921) Déodat de Séverac, of aristocratic lineage, was born in the Languedoc region of southwest France in Saint-Félix-Caraman (now Saint-Félix Lauragais), near Toulouse. After studies in Paris with Vincent d’Indy at the Schola Cantorum, he returned home and remained there. He was a contemporary of Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, but was considered a petit maître in their company, possibly because of his return to Languedoc at the completion of his musical studies. Séverac composed piano and orchestral music, operas and songs. The culture of his native Languedoc figured prominently in his music, which is highly descriptive. He often wrote parts for regional folk music in his scores. Many considered him provincial and unsophisticated, but his music displays his skill in integrating folk elements–and often, regional folk instruments–of his native Languedoc into his works. He often referred to himself as “the peasant musician.” Influences of Debussy, Mussorgsky, and Bizet may be found in his mélodies. Although his music is rather conservative in style, Séverac fused folk elements with the musical styles of the day in a unique and individual manner. Ma poupée chérie (1914) poem by the composer Composed in 1914 (and published in 1916) for his daughter Magali and dedicated to her, this little cradlesong is probably de Séverac’s best loved and most performed mélodie. Séverac’s fresh musical setting contains just the right combination of simplicity and delightful childlike honesty. Despite the subject matter, the composer’s heartfelt poem avoids an overly cloying atmosphere. BACK TO TOP OTHER SOURCES CONSULTED: Jane Bathori, On the Interpretation of the Mélodies of Claude Debussy, transl. and with an introduction by Linda Laurent (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press, 1998). Pierre Bernac, Francis Poulenc: The Man and his Songs, transl. by Winifred Radford (New York: W.W. Norton, 1977). Pierre Bernac, The Interpretation of French Song, transl. by Winifred Radford(New York: W.W. Norton, 1978). Elaine Brody, Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope 1870-1925 (New York: George Braziller, 1987). Mary Dibbern, Carol Kimball, and Patrick Choukroun, Interpreting the Songs of Jacques Leguerney (Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2001) Alan M. Gillmor, Erik Satie (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1992). James Harding, The Ox on the Roof: Scenes from musical life in Paris in the Twenties (New York: Da Capo Press, 1986). Peter Hill, ed., The Messiaen Companion (Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1995). Graham Johnson, Gabriel Fauré: The Songs and their Poets (London: Ashgate Publishing Ltd. and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, 2009) Graham Johnson and Richard Stokes, A French Song Companion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Carol Kimball, Song: A Guide to Art Song Style and Literature (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2005). Carol Kimball and Richard Walters, eds., The French Song Anthology (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp., 2001). Timothy LeVan, Masters of the French Art Song (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991). Barbara Meister, Nineteenth-Century French Song (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1980). Wilfrid Mellers, Francis Poulenc (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993). Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: Man and Musician (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975). Nancy Perloff, Art and the Everyday: Popular Entertainment in the Circle of Erik Satie(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) Caroline Potter, Henri Dutilleux: His Life and Works (Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing Co., 1997). Francis Poulenc, Moi et mes amis: Confidences recueilles par Stéphane Audel (Paris: La Palatine, 1963). Francis Poulenc, Diary of my Songs [Journal de mes mélodies] transl. by Winifred Radford (London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd., 1985) Marie-Claire Rohinsky, ed., The Singer’s Debussy (New York: Pelion Press, 1987) Roger Shattuck, The Banquet Years (New York: Vintage Books, 1968).