Bahnhofstrasse is part of a cycle of ten songs for solo voice on poems by James Joyce that I wrote in early 2019. I arranged three of those solo voice settings—Night Piece, Strings in the Earth and Air, and Bahnhofstrasse—for performance by mixed chorus.
They premiered on October 27, 2019 at the Washington Master Chorale's 10th Anniversary Season opening concert in Washington, D.C., under the direction of my friend Thomas Colohan, artistic director of the Chorale.
Bahnhofstrasse is an existential piece about the loss of youth. The title refers to the posh district in Zurich, Switzerland where in August 1917 Joyce suffered a sudden and painful attack of lumbago, later compounded with increasing blindness as a result of glaucoma.
The vocal line(s) floats wistfully over a minimalist piano accompaniment that steadily reiterates a simple, eerie motif as the poet’s failing eyes mock his deteriorating youthfulness.
In verses three and four, the middle-aged poet not only bemoans the fact that "highhearted youth comes not again," but that he's not yet old enough to benefit from the "old heart's wisdom" that comes in the autumn of life.
Bahnhofstrasse is available for high and medium solo voice and SATB chorus and piano. It is also included in three compilations:
The eyes that mock me sign the way
Whereto I pass at eve of day.
Grey way whose violet signals are
The trysting and the twining star.
Ah star of evil! star of pain!
Highhearted youth comes not again.
Nor old heart's wisdom yet to know
The signs that mock me as I go.
James Joyce, 1882 - 1941
YEAR OF COMPOSITION
High Voice Solo and Piano
Medium Voice Solo and Piano
SATB Chorus and Piano
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
PURCHASE SHEET MUSIC
Join the Mailing List
Subscribe and be the first to receive news from Henry on concerts, recordings, special events and much more, direct to your inbox.
Your email will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe any time.