Monday, August 5, 2013

Songs of the Victorians is complete!

I am happy to report that with today's release of Arthur Somervell's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1898), Songs of the Victorians is complete! This song joins three others--Caroline Norton's "Juanita" (1853), Michael William Balfe's "Come into the Garden, Maud" (1857), and Sir Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" (1877)--and, as before, includes an archive page (which includes a high-resolution scan of the first edition printing of the song integrated with an audio file, so each measure is highlighted in time with the music) and an analysis page (which includes an article-length essay on the song's interpretation of the poem it sets with musical excerpts of the score that are highlighted in time with the music).

Unlike Balfe's parlor song setting of the same text, which was designed for home performance and uses harmonic changes to critique the speaker's insanity, Somervell's art song setting was designed for public performance in a concert hall and presents a more sympathetic portrait of the speaker.  Although the song has harmonic irregularities, they are of short duration and therefore appear hidden in the song even more than in Balfe's setting.  This results in a musical depiction of the speaker from within the prison of his own mind rather than a critique of him from an external perspective.

Although Somervell's setting marks the end of this stage of development for Songs of the Victorians  the project will not lie dormant.  I plan to add new material over the next few years, and I am also seriously contemplating accepting submissions from other scholars (I have already had some volunteers) starting in the fall of 2014.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Songs of the Victorians:  it's always nice to hear feedback, so leave comments below!

Keep following this blog for updates on future plans and for development information on Augmented Notes!


6 comments:

  1. Christine SchintgenAugust 6, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Songs of the Victorians is a great resource! Thanks for putting this together.

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  2. Thanks Christine! I'm so glad you like it!

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  3. Great news, and a job well done! Looking forward to seeing the archive expand.

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  4. Thanks Michael! Happy to hear that you enjoy it!

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  5. I love "The Lost Chord."

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  6. How about adding Elgar's "Sabbath Morning at Sea"? It was first performed in 1899, which just gets it into the Victorian era. There are some similarities with "The Lost Chord": an English composer setting a poem by a female Victorian poet (Browning in Elgar's case). In each case, in my opinion, the song is better than the indifferent poem on which it is based. In both cases, too, the songs build to a grandioso climax just before the end.

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