Bahnhofstrasse is part of a cycle of ten art songs on poems by James Joyce that I wrote during the winter and spring of 2019.
It's 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 melody 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 "highthearted youth comes not again," but that he's also not old enough to possess the "old heart's wisdom" that comes with old age. It's Joyce at his best.
I later arranged Bahnhofstrasse, along with Night Piece and Strings in the Earth and Air, for SATB chorus and piano for the Washington Master Chorale's 10th Anniversary Season opening concert. They premiered on October 27, 2019 at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. under the direction of my friend Thomas Colohan, artistic director of the Chorale.
Bahnhofstrasse is also available as part of 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
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