Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Letters to the Editor

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Letters to the Editor

Article excerpt

Dear Richard:

YOUR COLUMNS ARE ALWAYS ENJOYABLE AND INSIGHTFUL, but this latest one ["Text, Subtext, Context," Journal of Singing 65, no. 3 (January/February 2009): 267-268] was especially dear to my heart. The primacy of the poem in song composition and interpretation is, of course, the thesis that inspired my three volumes on American Art Song and American Poetry, and some of my favorite moments while rehearsing for singers' recitals have been our discussions of the meaning of various poetic texts.

One of my most treasured John Duke memories was accompanying him one summer to the Seagle Colony on the occasion of his birthday, which the group celebrated yearly with a student concert of Duke settings. Not surprisingly, he had each one read the poem before singing it. This also reminds me of his description, in a letter to me, of his customary procedure for setting a poem which was always to start with a plotting out of the time values of the spoken text. Only then, he said, did he add melodic and harmonic clothing. (Actually, the Duke archive at Smith College shows him still doing this with a Sara Teasdale poem he was working on shortly before his death.)

Again, thanks for reminding everyone that in the art song, the poem always came first.




[The following communication arrived too late for inclusion in my Editor's Commentary, "Dubious Diva" (Journal of Singing 65, no. 2 [November/December 2008]: 131-132), but, because it is particularly germane to an understanding of Florence Foster Jenkins, I include here a quote by Jenkins's pianist, Cosme McMoon, graciously supplied by Maestro Carsey, who played that role. …

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