Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bartok was fond of Hungarian folk songs, and drew on them for inspiration, variation. Barber wrote songs too, using texts by Robert Graves and James Joyce.

One Joyce text, from Ulysses, is called "Solitary Hotel", and belongs to a suite of five songs Barber wrote between 1968-1969, called Despite and Still.

"Solitary Hotel" is the fourth in the suite. It is described by the composer as "a rather fast tango."

(James Joyce, arr. by Samuel Barber)

Solitary hotel in a mountain pass.
Autumn. Twilight. Fire lit.
In dark corner young man seated.
Young woman enters.
Restless. Solitary. She sits.
She goes to window. She stands.
She sits. Twilight. She thinks.
On solitary hotel paper she writes.
She thinks. She writes. She sighs.
Wheels and hoofs. She hurries out.
He comes from his dark corner.
He seizes solitary paper.
He holds it towards fire. Twilight.
He reads. Solitary. What?
In sloping, upright and backhands:
Queen's hotel, Queen's hotel, Queen's ho . . .

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