Neue Lied, Part 7: Mondnacht

Often the hardest things to write about are the most personal. I saved this blog for last only because it is hard to find words that describe the indescribable.

Kurt Erickson was the brainchild behind this neue lieder concert, and without his efforts, it would not have been possible. He has been the composer in residence for LIEDER ALIVE! these past 3 years, writing incredible music for Kindra Scharich, Kirk Eichelberger, Paul Yarbrough, and myself. Writing in an unfamiliar language can be a deterrent for many, but Kurt took it upon himself to invest completely in text and music to create incredible, lasting pieces. Each song and performance was magical, and their melodies live in my head along with the great lieds of Schubert and Strauss (and I am not just saying this because I love the guy…(;). It was this dare combined with generosity of spirit, than inspired him to bring other composers into the fold. He wanted to share the wealth, knowing from his own experience how writing in this genre can be a rewarding experience–one we hope inspires other composers as well. Thus, this concert was born…

It was a lovely, romantic weekend in Mendocino. Kurt and I have a fondness for reading poetry together (and writing, but don’t tell anyone (:).  Knowing that neue lied was in his future, I bought several German/English poetry books for his birthday which we began reading together.

We starred several that we loved and it was from those that his neue lieder set was born. Interestingly, when we were first reading Mondnacht, neither of us were thinking of the iconic Schumann piece–we were simply drawn to the wonders of Eichendorff’s poetry:

Mondnacht

Es war, als hätt’ der Himmel
Die Erde still geküßt,
Daß sie im Blüten-Schimmer
Von ihm nun träumen müßt’.

Die Luft ging durch die Felder,
Die Aehren wogten sacht,
Es rauschten leis die Wälder,
So sternklar war die Nacht.

Und meine Seele spannte
Weit ihre Flügel aus,
Flog durch die stillen Lande,
Als flöge sie nach Haus.

Moonlit Night

It was as though the heavens
Had silently kissed the earth,
Such that in the blossoms’ lustre
She was caught in dreams of them

The wind crossed through the fields,
And swayed the heads of grain
The forest softly rustled
How starry was the night

And my soul spread
Far its wings
And sailed o’er the hushed lands
As if gliding home

This piece was first clustered in a trio along with ‘Dein blaues Auge’ and ‘Ich und Du’. But it stands alone as a wonderful pairing with the Schumann. It fascinates me that Kurt purposefully didn’t listen to the Schumann prior to his composition. He wanted a completely de novo approach to his writing, drawing on his own instincts for the text. It was incredibly to listen to his process of improvisation as he explored textures and gestures to match the beauty of the words, lovely and different from Schumann, and all his own. I adore both pieces and it truly is an example of how neue lieder fits into the catalogue of the greats.

From the opening ascent to ‘himmel’ to the calming resolution to ‘home’, I feel the words as I sing.

I confess, Kurt has been both an inspiration and a great love beyond all great loves. I look forward to a long, musical journey.

Love and gratitude.

(See? You finally got a blog honey!! (:)

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