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Songs of Gouvy, Volume 2: 18 Sonnets et chansons de Desportes; 18 Poesies de Moritz Hartmann

By Theodore Gouvy

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Voice and piano - Intermediate
Composed by Theodore Gouvy (1819-1898) and MeeAe Cecilia Nam. Edited by MeeAe Cecilia Nam. Arranged by MeeAe Cecilia Nam. Art Song, Vocal Anthology/Collection. Secular, Romantic. Vocal score. E.C. Schirmer Publishing #8492. Published by E.C. Schirmer Publishing (EC.8492).

Item Number: EC.8492

ISBN 600313484926. French.

Gouvy was known for writing some of the most beautiful melodies of the Romantic period. His style is a combination of German forms and an early French romantic harmonic structure. His writing for the piano in the songs is totally unified in mood and description with the voice, just as the piano is in Schubert's songs. The equal partnership of the vocal line and piano interact closely to bring the poetry vividly into life with unimaginable artistic heights and unbridled passion.

This volume includes Gouvy songs set to 18 poems of Philippe Desportes (1546-1606), and 18 poems of Moritz Hartmann (1821-1872). The elements of Romantic love poetry, such as enchanting love and its pain, and the personifying of nature, are fluently described with a great sensitivity in both voice and piano. Gouvy's melody stir up the imagination because of his special treatment of words through a distinguishable and melodious vocal line, and his story telling and poetic treatment and development of the piano accompaniment. His compositional artistry places him in the upper echelons of art-song composers. One should note that Gouvy had a special fondness for the 16th Century poetry of La Pleiade (a group of Renaissance French poets, led by Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585). Desportes was truly the heir to Ronsard; however his work, when compared to that of Ronsard, is filled with greater abstraction and greater fluidity. Desportes seems to avoid any of the passionate anger that is occasionally characteristic of La Pleiade. This may be an indication that Desportes lived in a less distressed time. It also seems necessary to point out that he learned much in his early career by copying and studying the earlier works of La Pleiade. This has led some scholars to label him as a plagiarist, but it is important to realize that all the members of La Pleiade copied from each other when they wished to learn something new, and truly understand the style of the other poets in the group.
Gouvy's only choice of poems from his contemporaries, were the works of Moritz Hartmann (1821-1872), a good friend of Gouvy's. Much of his poetry was strongly political in support of freedom of the individual. He traveled to Leipzig in 1845, but when the authorities discovered a volume of patriotic poems entitled Kelch und Schwert (Chalice and Sword), he fled to Belgium and France. It is at this time that he possibly met Theodore Gouvy. Eighteen poems of Hartmann were translated from German to French by the French poet, Adolph Larmande, of whom very little is known.
Pierre Toussaint Adolphe Larmande seems to have been a rather obscure poet and musician. We know that he taught music theory at the Paris Conservatory at the same time Anton Reicha and Michele Carafa were on the faculty. We also know that in 1847 he married an English woman by the name of Marie Caroline Bradley. There are random documents, such as a Certificate of Arrival in London, England, in 1837, but there are no birth and death dates given, and that includes his obituary notice.
18 Sonnets et Chansons de Desportes pour tenor ou soprano et piano, Op. 45
Six poesies allemandes de Moritz Hartmann pour baryton et piano, Op. 21
Douze poesies allemandes de Moritz Hartmann pour tenor et piano, Op. 26 (Poesies francaises d'Adolphe Larmande) .

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