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BCS - Concert Notes
BCS Next Concert

Concert Notes
Summer Reflections

7.30pm
28 June 2014

St Swithin's Church, Bath BA1 5LY

We invite you to a short talk at 6.50pm in St. Swithin's about the concert music and the choir's preparation. Do come and meet Will Dawes, our conductor, and Tom McCahill, our Programme Editor.

Six Songs from 'A Shropshire Lad' (George Butterworth)

As an Oxbridge professor of Latin, A. E. Housman was known for his academic rigour and his acerbic personality, yet he had a softer attitude to poetry. The 63 short lyric poems that comprise A Shropshire Lad bear witness to this. The collection found its way into the knapsacks of many private soldiers as well as officers. What makes George Butterworth's settings of the poems so significant for this concert is that, like many a young man alluded to in the poems, Butterworth himself became a victim of war, killed by a sniper's bullet during the Battle of the Somme. He composed two sets of songs from the collection, in 1911 and 1912. We will hear the six in the first set.

Four Last Songs (Richard Strauss)

The Four Last Songs were composed between May and September of 1948, when Strauss was in his eighties - an astonishing last burst of creativity. They belong in this concert as a valediction, not just to Strauss's long life but also to an era in music that spanned two world wars. Unlike Stravinsky or Schoenberg, Strauss never embraced or promoted modernist trends in composition. Instead, he preferred bringing to perfection dazzling, ultra-romantic celebrations of the human voice, treating it almost as an orchestral instrument. However, he didn't live to hear these songs performed in concert.

Ein Deutsches Requiem (Johannes Brahms)

The title Ein Deutsches Requiem was first mentioned by Brahms in a letter to Clara Schumann in 1865, referring presumably to the language of the text that he employed as an alternative to the Latin of the Catholic requiem mass. Apparently Brahms would have preferred to call it Ein menschliches Requiem (a human requiem) reflecting the fact that the work is not primarily a mass for the dead. Its essence is contained in its opening words, selig sind, die da Leid tragen, 'blessed are they that mourn'. The Lutheran text, which contains consolation for those who remain as well as blessing for the departed, made it personally apt for Brahms who was grieving over the death of his mother during the time he was writing it. The work's profoundly consolatory tone also renders it appropriate for tonight's reflection on the 100th anniversary of the Great War.


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