In anticipation of NYFOS’s program Lyrics by Shakespeare, performed on August 8 as part of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, we are featuring a week of songs inspired by Shakespeare on Song of the Day. It will be held in the intimate Kaplan Penthouse so seating is limited; get your tickets today!
Of course, English-speakers were not the only ones inspired to set Shakespeare’s words. Composers around the world worked with his lyrics in their native tongues, and we’ll be featuring some ‘Lyrics by Shakespeare’ in Russian and French in our August concert. Today, however, let’s try German: Hugo Wolf’s setting of Bottom’s song from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in translation by August Wilhelm Schlegel; performed by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore.
The ousel cock, so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill.
The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo grey,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay.
I can’t promise any sort of through-line when it comes to my five posts. Instead, I simply offer five selections that have stayed in my heart, and coursed through my veins, over my years in music.
In my 9th grade English class, all of the students had to memorize a Shakespearean sonnet. I chose “Like as the waves make towards the pebbl’d shores,” but only because another student had already chosen “My mistress’ eyes.” Alan Rickman—whom I first encountered in Galaxy Quest—delivers his stirring rendition with gravitas and subtle passion.
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