Three Sonnets of Petrarch

By Carman, Judith | Journal of Singing, January/February 2010 | Go to article overview

Three Sonnets of Petrarch


Carman, Judith, Journal of Singing


ABBREVIATION KEY: Diff = difficulty level; V = voice; P = piano; E = easy; mE = moderately easy; M = medium; mD = moderately difficult; D = difficult; DD = very difficult; Tess = tessitura; LL = very low; L = low; mL = moderately low; M = medium; mH = moderately high; H = high; HH = very high; CR = covers range; CS = covers staff; X = no clear key center.

NEW WORKS BY AMERICAN COMPOSERS PART I

ARGENTO, DOMINICK (b. 1927). THREE SONNETS OF PETRARCH for Baritone and Piano. Boosey & Hawkes, 2008 (Hal Leonard). Tonal; A[musical flat]^sub 2^-F#^sub 4^; Tess: mH; regular meters with some changes; Andantino, Moderato, Presto; W/mD-D, P/M; 9 ½ minutes. Titles: I. "Sonnet 63 (Volgendo gli occhi)" II. "Sonnet 164 (Or che'l ciel)" III. "Sonnet 300 (Quanta invidia io ti porto)"

The three sonnets that the composer chose for this short cycle represent the beginning of Petrarch's passionate infatuation with the beautiful Laura (whom he apparently never formally met throughout all the years of his love for her), the middle of his long connection to her when he discovers that his love produces both sweet and bitter fruit, and the end as he mourns her death. Argento states in the "Composer's Note" that he has taken the stand that Laura was a real person (a point on which scholars have always disagreed) based on the "unstilted and passionate" nature of the poet's original language (Argento made his own English translations) and on a quotation from a letter to a friend in which Petrarch denies that Laura is a poetic device by saying, "I wish that she indeed had been a fiction and not a madness." Argento goes on to say, "The music I have written for these sonnets is a product of that view."

As we have come to expect from Argento, the music for these texts reflects beautifully their meaning and emotional context. The opening piano motif of the first song, an upward arpeggio of an eleventh chord, suggests the eyes of those who see the poet's paleness: "Casting eyes upon my newfound paleness, people cannot help but think of death." The simple act of turning the flourish upside down transforms it into the gentle glance of Laura: "yet you were moved by pity: whereupon my heart, greeted so gently, clung to life." After the narrative opening of the vocal line, the voice sings a long rising melody that will recur in the piano part of this song and the last song - the "Laura" theme. Throughout the remainder of the song, the emotional content of the words is buoyed with two repetitions of the theme in its entirety. The song ends with a half quotation of the theme followed by the rising eleventh chord arpeggio from the beginning.

The second song begins with a tranquil ground bass figure that sets the mood for "Now that sky and earth and wind are hushed/ and beasts and birds in sleep are silenced too,/ Night steers its starry chariot through its course,/ and even the waveless sea retires to bed." In the depths of night, the poet wrestles with his love for the "one clear living fountain [from which] come/ both the bitter and the sweet whereon I am sustained;/A single hand both stabs me and also heals the wound. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Three Sonnets of Petrarch
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.