Three Love Songs (based on poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

The first and last of these love songs based on poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are especially related to the courtship and marriage of Elizabeth and Robert Browning. The middle song is a setting of three of the five stanzas of a poem entitled “A Woman’s Shortcomings.” In “How Do I Love Thee?” the dominant interval is the augmented fourth that occurs in some form each time the words, “I love thee,” are sung. The motif of “let me count the ways” is heard from time to time and returns strongly at the end with the phrase, “better after death.” The melodic line seeks to “paint” the words of each phrase. The waltz was the most popular dance of the 19th century. It seemed fitting to select that form for the second poem, a portion of which hints at a dance scene. The contrast of “Life” and “Love” in the final poem is brought out through a descending line in a somber mode picturing the cold stillness of “Life” and an ascending line in a bright mode picturing the warmth and joy of “Love.”

How Do I Love Thee (excerpt)
Never Call It Loving (excerpt)
Life and Love (excerpt)

Length14 minutes
InstrumentationHigh Voice and Piano

Item #V-001

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