What Lips My Lips Have Kissed

November 22 2012

Setting of Edna St Vincent Millay from Bernstein’s Songfest (1977).

Janice Meyerson, mezzo-soprano, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra, Bernstein, BBC Proms, July 24 1988.

5 Responses to “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    The two songs I’ve posted here, and I, Too, Sing America (Langston Hughes), must be the best of the dozen. He wrote the work at a time of dramatic personal change.

    Late Bernstein includes:

    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, musical (1976)

    Songfest: A Cycle of American Poems for Six Singers and Orchestra (1977)

    Slava! A Political Overture for Orchestra (1977)

    Divertimento for Orchestra (1980)

    Halil, nocturne for solo flute, piccolo, alto flute, percussion, harp and strings (1981)

    A Quiet Place, opera (1983)

    Dance Suite (1988)

    Arias and Barcarolles for mezzo-soprano, baritone and piano four-hands (1988)

    Concerto for Orchestra (originally Jubilee Games from 1986, revised 1989)

  2. davidderrick Says:

    Remembering Bernstein:

  3. davidderrick Says:

    Discussing Beethoven 6 and 7 with Maximilian Schell:

  4. davidderrick Says:

    It was Millay who wrote

    “My candle burns at both ends;
    It will not last the night;
    But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
    It gives a lovely light!”

    Christopher Hitchens part-quoted this without attribution, referring to the unhealthy life he had led, when he was diagnosed esophageal cancer. Many people must have thought that the final phrase, adapted, was his own.

    Compare Bernstein as he approached or reached the age of 70:

    “Well, I beat the rap. I smoke. I drink. I stay up all night. I screw around. I’m overcommitted on all fronts.”

  5. davidderrick Says:

    Millay’s “I have forgotten“ seems to echo Sidney Keyes’s “Remember your lovers“, set by Tippett in The Heart’s Assurance.


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