Vocal Arts Concert: Italienisches Liederbuch

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Vocal Arts Concert: Italienisches Liederbuch

Composed by Hugo Wolf


Robert Brandt, baritone
Melissa Heath, soprano
Michael Schütze, piano


Monday, March 4, 2024, 1 p.m.

Winifred Smith Hall

Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), composer and music critic, hailed from Vienna. His creative life was among the shortest and most sporadic known to musical history. He did not achieve musical mastery until he was twenty-eight, and once he did, he wrote his songs in irregular outbursts over the course of about six months. In 1888 he composed nearly 100 songs. In addition to the Italienisches Liederbuch, Wolf’s well known vocal works include the Spanisches Liederbuch, Eichendorf Lieder, Mörike Lieder, Goethe Lieder, and one opera, Der Corregidor.

Poet Paul Heyse’s 1860 translations of these mostly anonymous folk and traditional Italian poems were an inspiration to Wolf, whose creative imagination could dwell and function without constraint within their lines. Its lively vignettes were well designed to bring out Wolf’s genius for small-scale drama and characterization. The stories are fresh, charming, and ever-relevant.

"When we encounter this work for the first time we discover a new song landscape---a delightfully hybrid country where Italian folk earthiness is wedded to the highest German art.

The amalgam of music and poetry which is the Italienisches Liederbuch is a volatile substance teeming with frantic activity....hugely colorful. Wolf knew how to harness the secret power of (this) poetry to create a music of explosive power---music which belies its modest dimensions. The intense activity of an Italian village is mirrored by a parade of the tiniest and most subtle musical devices. The people depicted in Heyse's collection are part of a bustling and vibrant community, yet somehow anonymous in that their behavior in love---or when angry, spiteful, or laughing---is archetypal, as repetitive and inevitable as life itself. And as a result of the composer entering into the spirit of these words in the most profound way, there is in this combination of music and poetry a timelessness which places the work far beyond the realms of nineteenth-century song and Italian pastiche.


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Free admission


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March 4, 2024 - 1:00am