Dead songs, op. 45 : for soprano voice, clarinet in B flat, cello and piano
by Andrew Schultz (1991)
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Dead Songs was composed in June 1991
and consists of settings of texts adapted from epitaphs collected
from New South Wales seaside cemeteries at Wombarra, Bulli, South
Head and Waverley. Many of the texts are combinations of several
different epitaphs (such as No.1, No. 4 and No. 8) and in some
cases graffiti or other found texts that made a useful connection
have found their way into the work. It was the simplicity of
expression, the occasional unintentional humour and even the
heartfelt Australian mawkishness of the texts that attracted me
to them as sources for a song cycle. The work is laid out quite
formally and with some musical references, for example to
Schubert's demonic transportation in No. 4, to Bach in No. 8 and
Josquin in No. 9.
If there is a metaphor in the work as a whole it can be seen most clearly in the last song. Taken from several decrepit headstones, the text misses the end of most lines and in my setting is left that way - as a kind of floundering expression in the face of bigger obstacles. The analogy here relates to the physical position of the cemeteries as best exemplified by Wombarra with its neat denominational arrangement of the dead seeming somehow insignificant against the slow motion oblivion of sea and wind tearing away at the crumbling cliff edges.
Instrumentation: Soprano, clarinet in B flat, piano, cello.
Duration: 30 min.
Contents note: Buried at sea -- His dust -- And underneath are the everlasting arms -- Ahead of his time -- Dead devils -- Agnus dei -- The Tahiti-Greycliffe disaster, Sydney Harbour 1927 -- Peace perfect peace -- Unreconstructed sentiment.
First performance: by Symeron — 23 May 93. Eugene Goossens Hall, Sydney
Text adapted from epitaphs collected from seaside cemeteries at Wombarra, Bulli, South Head and Waverley.
Awards & Prizes
|1991||Paul Lowin Song Cycle Prize||Highly Commended||Andrew Schultz|
Article: Music and the meaning of water
by Andrew Schultz
Naxos Musicology International (2 May 2020)
- In the form/style of: Song Cycles
Performances of this work
22 Sep 2010: at To the Evening Star (Ian Hanger Recital Hall).
23 May 93: Eugene Goossens Hall, Sydney. Featuring Symeron.
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