Friday, October 19, 2007

Glow of autumn

Glow of autumn
Originally uploaded by jhhymas
Right now I am listening to Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss in the recording of Elizabeth Schwartzkopf. It is transcendently beautiful: lyrical, flowing and harmonious. I am thinking this is a recording I would like to have. (Now, S. reminds me that ES was a member of the Nazi Party.)
I remember when I listened to Kiri Te Kanawa sing these Strauss songs on a CD I borrowed from the library. (In my memory, her version is a little more shrill.) I wasn't really struck by them then, although I liked them well enough to listen several times.
Now I look in Wikipedia for information on the Four Last Songs, and there is a full and interesting article. (Wikipedia is getting better and better; we almost never have an unanswered question if the laptop is on. I also like to sometimes correct the spelling and punctuation.)

The Last Songs really were the last music Strauss wrote, (in 1948; he was 84) and he did not live to see them performed for the first time in 1950 by Kirsten Flagstad. They are settings of one poem called At Sunrise (Im Abendrot), and three poems by Hesse. All of the poems have a calm air of acceptance of death. Here is the translation of Hesse's September from Wikipedia:


The garden is in mourning;
the cool rain seeps into the flowers.
Summertime shudders,
quietly awaiting her end.

Golden leaf after leaf falls
down from the tall acacia tree.
Summer smiles, astonished and feeble,
in her dying dream of a garden.

For a while beside the roses
she remains, yearning for repose.
Slowly she closes
her ever more weary eyes.

This is a poem about the coming of autumn, and is very consonant with what I see out the window now. The picture was taken in the back of our MIchigan place earlier today.

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