Beauty - (2012)
for soprano or mezzo soprano and piano
Say not of Beauty she is good,
Or aught but beautiful,
Or sleek to doves' wings of the wood
Her wild wings of a gull.
Call her not wicked; that word's touch
Consumes her like a curse;
But love her not too much, too much,
For that is even worse.
O, she is neither good nor bad,
But innocent and wild!
Enshrine her and she dies, who had
The hard heart of a child.
2 pages, circa 2' 10"
Elinor Wylie (1885-1928) was an American poet and novelist of whom was said. "She was famous during her life almost as much for her ethereal beauty and personality as for her melodious, sensuous poetry." The text is found in the collection, "Nets to Catch the Wind." New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921,
The blurring of the two accompaniment lines builds a quiet wash of harmony, changing most every measure in a succession drawing away from and returning to the tonic with few references to the dominant or subdominant of the traditional common practice era. The three strophes are similar in texture and shape, yet an ongoing though slight variation continues beneath the vocal line.
The score for Beauty 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.
Bertram Kottmann (b. 1948) has made a brilliant German language interpretation of Wylie's text.
Dass Schönheit gut ist, sage nicht,
nur dass sie schön ist, sag,
noch dass es Möwen je gebricht
an Täubchens Flügelschlag.
Nenn' sie nicht böse; dieses Wort,
ein Fluch ist's, der verzehrt;
doch lieb' sie nicht in einem fort,
zuviel der Lieb' beschwert.
Sie'st weder gut' noch schlechter Art,
nur wild und ohne Sünd'!
Vergött're sie: Dann stirbt sie, hart
von Herzen wie ein Kind.
Singable translation from English to German copyright © 2011 by Bertram Kottmann, BKottmann (AT) t-online.de, reprinted on this website with kind permission. Please contact the copyright-holder when requesting permission to reprint.
The score for Schönheit is available as a free PDF download formatted in A4, 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.