Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Playlist: W.B. Yeats In Music

For St. Patrick's Day I compiled a playlist of songs and classical works based on the writings of the great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats.

Some of Yeats' poems have become part of the Irish folklore: Down By The Salley Gardens has been performed by hundreds of singers, from James Joyce's friend John McCormack, to contemporary folk singer Maura O'Connell (both renditions are included here). First part of this playlist is consisted of non-classical works: it opens with The Waterboys' heartrendingly beautiful musical treatment of The Stolen Child; then continues with Joni Mitchell's majestic Slouching Towards Bethlehem (based on The Second Coming); besides Yeats songs from renowned Irish acts like Van Morrison (Crazy Jane On God), The Chieftains (Never Give All The Heart), Christy Moore (Song Of Wandering Aengus), Sharon Shannon (A Song Of The Rosy Cross), it also features a full album dedicated to the poet: The Waterboys' An Appointment with Mr. Yeats.

Second part starts with Donnacha Dennehy's Yeats song cycle That the Night Come, commissioned and performed by Dawn Upshaw. Songs from dozens of composers including Barber, Elgar, John Tavener, Tippett and Vaughan Williams are followed by Harry Partch's opera King Oedipus (based on Yeats' translation of the Greek drama), and Jonathan Harvey's piano piece Four Images After Yeats.

Here's the Spotify playlist: William Butler Yeats in Music (128 tracks, total time: 8 hours) Ctrl (CMD)+G to browse in album view. Some song texts can be found here. In my previous playlist The Poet Speaks, you can hear Yeats reads and talks about The Lake Isle Of Innisfree.

Below is a video of Leonard Cohen reciting the first lines of Yeats' In Memory Of Eva Gore-Booth And Con Markiewicz, in Lissadell House.

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.


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