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Bahnhofstrasse is an existential piece about the loss of youth. In 1917, James Joyce suffered a sudden and painful attack of lumbago while walking along the Bahnhofstrasse, the chic main street in Zurich, Switzerland. His condition was compounded by increasing blindness as a result of glaucoma.
My setting underscores Joyce’s angst as he discovers youth is fleeting. Yet, being middle-aged, he realizes he’s not old enough to benefit from the "old heart's wisdom" that comes in the autumn of life. The solo vocal line floats wistfully over a minimalist accompaniment that reiterates a simple, eerie motif.
Bahnhofstrasse is suitable for recitals, competitions and auditions and is available in high voice (soprano or tenor) and medium voice (mezzo-soprano or baritone) versions. It also forms part of my complete collection of art songs with texts by James Joyce:
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