Academic journal article Journal of Singing

When I Am an Old Woman

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

When I Am an Old Woman

Article excerpt

The famous poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, here titled "When I am an old woman," has been given an interesting setting by Libby Larsen. One might expect a setting of this poem to be perhaps flamboyant, funny, and devilmay-care, but this setting seems to inhabit a strange mood, as if the speaker is mentally drifting just inside the edge of sanity.

"When I'm an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me." The opening vocal line spans the staff with a sense of vision into the future. The repeated "bell-like" octave Bs high on the keyboard set up both a sense of the passage of time and the mood of reverie. Sliding dissonant chords in the left hand add to the air of unreality. A snatch of somehow familiar melody in the tenor line of the piano at "summer gloves and satin sandals" calls up perhaps some long forgotten scene that will replay itself under the influence of the brandy on which the woman will spend her pension. …

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