Friday, January 15, 2016

Songs My Mother Taught Me

     It's important to pay homage to those we love. Adolf Heyduk's poem entitled "Songs My Mother Taught Me" does just that. This poem has been set to music by both Anton Dvorak and Charles Ives. Martin and I will be performing the Ives version on 2/26 at Christ and St. Stephens church in Manhattan. Since the Dvorak is for a high voice, you do not want to hear me sing it. The Ives version is not well known like the Dvorak and deserves more performances because it is very expressive and tender. We are happy to be performing it on our upcoming recital. It's a very moving song paying tributes to mothers.  

     The Dvorak setting of this song is in the original Czech, the Ives is translated into English as would be expected.  The translation is by Natalie Macfarren.  The settings could not be more different.  The Dvorak is a folk song, the Ives is in A, B, A form., and the melodies are completely different.  The difference in the Ives is that you can hear traces of sadness and happiness in it, whereas the Dvorak is very happy through out and you could dance to it.  I won't dance during the recital so don't worry.  Aside from the version for voice and piano by Ives, he also wrote it for chamber ensemble and retitled the song "An Old Song Deranged."  According to Ives biographer Stuart Feder the title implies that Ive's mother Mollie had dementia, but there is no proof  of that.  I do know that this song is very beautiful and worth knowing as a contrast to Dvorak's setting.    Here is the poem and the song. 

Songs my mother taught me, In the days long vanished;
Seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
Now I teach my children, each melodious measure.
Oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory's treasure.

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