String Playing as Inspiration for the Writing of Poetry

By Szot, Jan | The Canadian Music Educator, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

String Playing as Inspiration for the Writing of Poetry


Szot, Jan, The Canadian Music Educator


This column is in response to your requests. First, I had a tremendous response to an earlier article which featured a poem about the great violinist Ludwig Spohr, by Archibald Lampman. Many of you were able to use this as inspiration for a variety of lessons. In addition, I had a great response to my most recent article regarding the use of string music, Vivaldi's "Il Sospetto" as inspiration for artworks. The two poems featured below were inspired by live performance as mere were no recorded performances at the time. However, there are websites devoted to performance as catalyst for poetic writing.

To My Father's Violin Thomas Hardy ( 1840-1928 )

Does he want you down there In the Nether Glooms where The hours may be a dragging load upon him, As he hears the axle grind Round and round Of the great world, in the blind Still profound Of the night-time? He might liven at the sound Of your string, revealing you had not forgone him.

In the gallery west the nave, But a few yards from his grave, Did you, tucked beneath his chin, to his bowing Guide the homely harmony Of the quire Who for long years strenuously - Son and sire - Caught the strains that at his fingering low or higher From your four thin threads and eff-holes came outflowing.

And, too, what merry tunes He would bow at nights or noons That chanced to find him bent to lute a measure, When he made you speak his heart As in dream, Without book or music-chart, On some theme Elusive as a jack-o'-lanthorn's gleam, And the psalm of duty shelved for trill of pleasure.

Well, you can not, alas, The barrier overpass That screens him in those Mournful Meads hereunder. Where no fiddling can be heard In the glades Of silentness, no bird Thrills the shades; Where no viol is touched for songs or serenades, No bowing wakes a congregation's wonder.

He must do without you now, Stir you no more anyhow To yearning concords taught you in your glory; While, your strings a tangled wreck,

Once smart drawn, Ten worm-wounds in your neck, Purflings wan With dust-hoar, here alone I sadly con Your present dumbness, shape your olden story.

A Violinist Francis William Bourdillon ( 1852-1921 )

The lark above our heads doth know A heaven we see not here below; She sees it, and for joy she sings; Then falls with ineffectual wings.

Ah, soaring soul! faint not nor tire! Each heaven attained reveals a higher. Thy thought is of thy failure; we List raptured, and thank God for thee.

I decided to highlight a poem by a teen, which was featured on the website www.lit.org/view/19787. This poem is a poetic response to the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major, op.35: Canzonetta: Andante, published by Whitmore Publishing.

The first strains of aching vibrato Awaken a stirring in my soul As each crescendo swells I feel Soothed and enthralled by the melodious tones Ever so subtly, it builds To a climactic moment of sound and passion! I do not fall from these ecstatic heights But gendy float back down with gende notes To sweet slumber in my mundane surroundings Memories of beauty and pain Filtering through my dreams

Use this Romantic piece by Tchaikovsky or others as inspiration for multi-disciplinary lessons. Have fun !

This list is in response to a request for a listing of string orchestra repertoire which is pedagogically sound and also plays well in concert settings. Frequently, it is difficult to find material which challenges all players/sections and also gives the audience that feeling of a special concert experience. Over the years, I have been driven to write my own arrangements as there were not many commercially available arrangements which suit these parameters. I have included my own best arrangements in the list. Thus, the list comprises many of my all-rime favourite pieces from a variety of genres and levels of difficulty. I am assuming that everyone is familiar with the standard classic school-level string orchestra fare, such as the CAPRIOL SUITE by Warlock ST PAUL'S SUITE by Holst, the BROOK GREEN SUITE by Holst, the SIMPLE SYMPHONY by Britten, ANCIENT AIRS AND DANCES by Respighi, FIVE VARIANTS ON DIVES AND LAZARUS by Vaughan Williams, GREENSLEEVES by Vaughan Williams, etc. …

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