Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Musical Musings Volume 9 - Works For Voice

The human voice is in many ways the most flexible and expressive musical instrument known to man, as well as being the first. The organization of sounds that developed into the first musical systems of the world were based on the human voice, and professional composers have been inspired to write for it for centuries.  Contemporary popular music is almost exclusively for the accompanied voice, and classical music has a huge repertoire of vocal music for soloist, chorus, and all kinds of combinations with instrumental accompaniment.

Volume 9 - Works For Voice
This 9th Volume in the Musical Musings series of articles about classical music continues with works that are for or include the voice. All types of vocal music are included save for opera, which I consider to be a separate category in itself.  The time line of composers is from Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) to Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 - 1975) and range from works for solo voice and piano, to works for soloists, chorus and orchestra. The mix of compositions contained within also range from the well known to the obscure.

Most of the works are not in English, a detriment to understanding for some. Indeed, the essence of most vocal music is in the meaning behind the words and how the composer has molded the music to them. But the listener who accepts the challenge of exploring the words and music will be rewarded with hearing some of the most powerful, beautiful, and masterful music written. 

Translations are included for the text of each work. These translations have been gleaned from various sources. Some are copyrighted, and proper credit is given to the translator, some are in the public domain, and for some of the lesser-known pieces I have provided my own English translation. I am by no means a polyglot, and these translations were done with the help of the computer. As such, they can only give an approximation and are intended to give a general idea of the original text’s meaning.