At a Glance
The concert begins with four of Richard Strauss's less familiar
songs from the turn of the century, when the composer was in his
30s and composing his tone poems Also sprach
Zarathustra and Don Quixote.
Next, we hear settings of British poet Robert Browning by "Mrs. H.
H. A. Beach," or Amy Beach, who defied turn-of-the-century notions
about women's supposed inability to compose by writing symphonies,
chamber works, choral compositions, songs, and more, to
Charles Martin Loeffler was once described as "the blond musical
Verlaine of Boston" because of his affinity for French
turn-of-the-century music and literature. He set Paul Verlaine's
Symbolist poems and the poetry of Charles Baudelaire to music with
great sensitivity and originality.
Pianist-composer Franz Liszt wrote songs in five languages and
lavished great care on them. We hear one of his three Petrarch
sonnet settings in its first, most virtuosic version; a setting of
one of Goethe's most famous lyric poems; and one of Liszt's best
settings of the great French writer Victor Hugo.
We end with four Italian songs by Giuseppe Verdi, best known for
his many great operas, and a perennial favorite by Gioachino
Rossini. In the 1830s and again in the 1860s, Verdi turned briefly
to writing songs; three of the four are salon songs for gatherings
in Milan hosted by a poet's wife. Rossini, who retired from
operatic composition at age 37, wrote salon songs, including a