Tuesday, February 21, 2012

W. H. Auden in Music

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become. - W. H. Auden

"Much of his poetry is concerned with moral issues and evidences a strong political, social, and psychological context. While the teachings of Marx and Freud weighed heavily in his early work, they later gave way to religious and spiritual influences. Some critics have called Auden an “antiromantic”—a poet of analytical clarity who sought for order, for universal patterns of human existence. Auden’s poetry is considered versatile and inventive, ranging from the tersely epigrammatic to book-length verse, and incorporating a vast range of scientific knowledge." Poetry Foundation

To celebrated Auden's 105th birthday, I put together a playlist of music based on his poems and translations, including Auden songs from Barber, Britten (Fish in the Unruffled Lakes), Foss (We're Late), Henze, Rorem and many more; libretti, including The Rake's Progress and Elegy for Young Lovers; and compositions inspired by his writings, like Bernstein's Symphony No. 2 The Age of Anxiety.I also included jazz pianist Andreas Schnermann's Tell Me The Truth About Love, which set 12 Auden poems to music.

Here's the Spotify playlist: W.H. Auden in Music (163 tracks, total time: 9 hours). Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. See song texts here. For further readings, I wholeheartedly recommend his prose collection: The Dyer's Hand, one of the best books on reading, writing, Shakespeare and music that I have read, and this blog post: W.H. Auden as Muse. You can also hear Auden reading his poems from this previous playlist.


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