Chansons de jadis: Six Songs of Loneliness

for High Voice and Chamber Orchestra

Sydney Hodkinson

Duration: 00:28:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The texts of the six songs comprising the cycle "Chansons de Jadis" were chosen more for their sympathetic ?feelings? to me rather than for any underlying topic or theme. The coherence of the set is structural, not poetic, although each of the chosen poems from multinational sources ?Spanish, Canadian, Italian, American and Afghanistanian is perhaps permeated with a sense of solitude and loneliness. They are used in the piece in English and/or French translations.

The musical unification, however, is another matter. Indeed, the songs might be loosely interpreted as a set of six lengthy variations on a brief descending-scale ?motto? (first played by the solo horn at the opening of the work) which serves as the genesis for the entire composition. Furthermore, the variation material of each song is itself constantly varied throughout the course of the piece.

My intent was to offer the orchestra a pleasant, yet challenging series of settings that would allow the individual musicians to speak, as it were, even in surroundings that were largely accompanimental. There is a considerable amount of solo writing, not only for the principal players as is customary (flute, violin, english horn, cello, etc.), but also for Baroque trumpet, percussion, Eb clarinet, the viola section and piccolo, for example.

"Chansons de Jadis" was commissioned by the National Arts Centre Corporation for its orchestra in Ottawa, Ontario and was written in Fairport, New York, Ormond, Florida, and Greensboro, North Carolina during mid-1978 and early-1979. The six ?old-fashioned songs? are dedicated to the Canadian conductor Mario Bernardi and received their first performance under his direction, with Gwenlynn Little as soprano soloist, on March 25 and 26, 1981 in Ottawa, Canada

Additional Information

Commission National Arts Centre
Composition Date 1978-79
Orchestration 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 0 0; Perc. Str.
Premiere 25th March, 1981. National Arts Centre Orchestra, Gwenlyn Little, soprano, Mario Bernardi, conductor; Ottawa, Canada


I. Ode: And Suddenly It?s Evening (Salvatore Quasimodo)
II. Fox Trot: On the Beach (Earle Birney)
III. Lullaby: On Nights Like This (Saint Geraud)
IV. Aubade: Near the Flowering Mountain (Antonio Machado)
V. Saltarello: Call It Romance (anonymous Pashtun)
VI. Dirge: Lord, You Took From Me (Antonio Machado)

Score Preview