A non-political anti-war song
Five Songs from A Shropshire Lad
Lyrics by A.E. Housman--piano and voice
Is My Team Ploughing?
When I Was One-and-Twenty
Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now
Into My Heart an Air That Kills
With Rue My Heart Is Laden
Excerpted from Thomas Hampson's Song of America database:
On setting lyrics to classic poems: I consider the music to be already embedded in the text,
and my task is to extract it. Some of A.E. Housman’s best poetry is too arch for this approach.
The “speech” in the texts I’ve chosen is always more or less natural, even if archaic..
I’m fundamentally a melodist.I don’t stretch the lyrics or repeat lines but keep the rhythm of the lines
and the integrity of the stanzas intact--though in between the stanzas there is room. This also means
not over-dramatizing the text at the expense of the clarity of the poetic form. Certainly a very dramatic
rendering that results in an effective musical form at the expense of the poem’s original form is common
in many art songs. The well-known setting by Charles Sanford (early in the 20th century) of
“La Belle Dame sans Merci” of Keats, is a fine example.
There is a "typo" in the fourth selection, "Into My Heart an Air That Kills":
"This is the land of lost content" should be "That is the land of loss content."
As far as I know, this is first musical setting of this poem.