Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund



Fair, Rich and Young - (2012)     

Sir John Harington

for tenor and piano


Fair, rich, and young: how rare is her perfection,
Were it not mingled with one foul infection!
I mean, so proud a heart, so curst a tongue,
As makes her seem nor fair, nor rich, nor young.

2 pages, circa 2' 20"

Sir John Harington


Sir John Harington (1561-1612) was Queen Elizabeth's godson and one of her sometimes favorites and then known as "saucy,' a courtier, author and a so-called master of art, popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet. For some of his poetry and other writing, he was repeatedly in and out of favor with the Queen, as well as with her successor, James I. Among his work, he translated Orlando Furioso at her behest, into "English heroical verse." Among political works was his allegory, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596), followed by a supposed "retraction." Among his popular epigrams was this published in 1618: "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason." And thankfully unto this day, there are many willing to say "treason."



The four-line verse is treated by repetition, such that the full text is twice repeated. After the full text, phrases repeat as a nattering of sixteenth notes accompany the vocal line as if this young lady's tongue chatters and chatters so much as to lessen "fair, rich and young" into, as Harington says, a curse.



The score  is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Fair, Rich and Young