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Hugo Alfvén: Skogen sover

Happy summer! Today is the summer solstice and here in the northern hemisphere we will see the most daylight hours we’ll have all year. I remember being enchanted by Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night and marveling at how special the light seemed in the nighttime scenes that were shot outdoors. (Fun fact: that film is the source material for Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.) I got to experience that magical nighttime lighting first hand when I was in Stockholm several years ago during the month of June. Even after the official sunset around 10:00PM, the sky maintained an ethereal glow. It only seemed like the sun went behind a cloud for a few short hours before peeking out again for the official sunrise around 3:30AM.

Appropriately for the first day of summer my choice for the Song of the Day is the gorgeous “Skogen sover” (“The Forest is Asleep”) by Hugo Alfvén on a poem of Ernest Theil. The song is a musical and poetic rendering of being in the forest during one of those exquisite, light filled evenings in June. Just the sound of the piano alone captures that special glow of the sky after sunset. The sustained, spun out melody gently floats through the shimmering harmonies to evoke serenity and love. This song is a wonderful reminder to live life in the present and to savor the beauty of this moment before it passes.

Skogen sover.
Strimman på fästet flämtar matt.
Dagen vakar i juninatt.
Tystnat har nyss hennes muntra skratt,
redan hon sover.
Vid hennes sida jag stum mig statt.
Kärleken vakar över sin skatt,
kärleken vakar i juninatt.

The forest is asleep.
A streak of light flickers in the sky.
Day watches over the June night.
The forest’s joyful laughter has now become quiet,
already the forest is sleeping.
I silently lie down in the forest.
Love watches over its treasure,
love keeps watch in the June night.

Here is a recording of the fabulous Jussi Björling accompanied by pianist Nils Grevillius.

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