We read a poem and hear it in our mind. We hear the poet recite and perhaps the poem becomes something different through the poet’s voice. What happens to our experience of the poem when it is set to music and comes to us through a singer’s voice and with piano or orchestral accompaniment? In this class, we will explore song cycles by three composers: Edvard Grieg, Gustav Mahler, and Benjamin Britten.
We will begin by reading and discussing the poems:
- by Norwegian Arne Garborg chosen by Grieg for his song cycle “Haugtussa”
- by German Friedrich Rückert chosen by Mahler for his song cycle “Rückertlieder”
- by various English poets chosen by Britten for “Serenade”
After reading the poems, we will listen to recordings of the song cycles and then discuss how the musical setting alters our reaction to the poetry. The instructor will provide copies of all the poems, in the original language and in English Translation.