By Heart (2000)
Text: Louise Bogan, from The Blue Estuaries, Poems 1923-1968, published by The Ecco Press.
Commissioned by The Schubert Club.
Premiere—Maria Jette and Judith Kogan, World Harp Congress, Geneva, Switzerland, 7/02.
Published by Fatrock Ink.
Soprano range: b–c3
- Train Tune
- Roman Fountain
- M., Singing
- I saw Eternity
- Song for the Last Act
Louise Bogan (1897-1970) was for more than thirty years one of the most influential women of American letters. A celebrated poet, winner of The Bollingen Prize, and critic for The New Yorker magazine, her poems are collected in The Blue Estuaries, published by Echo Press. Bogan was also a music lover and amateur pianist, and her poems frequently contain strong musical imagery and song forms. Indeed, “M., Singing” came to Bogan after hearing her daughter Maidie sing Fauré’s “Après un rêve.”
My cycle may be seem to trace the progress of a relationship through awakening, urgency, betrayal and farewell. The speaker is drawn back and along by the “Train Tune,” which functions as a ritornello. Ultimately, the loved one is known ‘by heart:’ so utterly in memory that its presence is no longer necessary.
I am particularly grateful to Judith Kogan, who requested a cycle for her to play with Maria Jette—one of my favorite singers—and who generously lent me a harp for my explorations, and to the commissioner: The Schubert Club.