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Classical Music

Music In The Making: Poets’ Corner

A day for poets
Is a good day for music
They go hand in hand.


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On this week’s episode, we’re celebrating National Poet’s Day, with music inspired by the written word.

Photograph of Amy Lowell, American poet
Photograph of Amy Lowell, American poet

Joshua Zinn: A Dome of Many Coloured Glass
April 26, 2015
Dudley Recital Hall
Anna Diemer, soprano, Hailey Darnell, piano

American poet Amy Lowell was invested in and inspired by the Imagist movement, which emphasized clarity of expression. The poet herself described the aim of this Anglo-American movement as the “concentration of the very essence of poetry” and aimed to “produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.” These traits are exactly what attracted Houston Public Media’s Joshua Zinn, who composed a song cycle setting three of Lowell’s early poems. He describes, “I love how concise, yet vivid her poetry can be, saying so much in so little words.”

Portrait of Friedrich Schiller
Gerhard von Kügelgen
Portrait of Friedrich Schiller

Franz Liszt: Selections from Années de pèlerinage, “Première année: Suisse”
February 4, 2012
Markus Groh, Piano
Moores Opera House

Much of Franz Liszt’s oeuvre is inspired by and pays homage to poetry; in his tone poems, for instance, Liszt frequently looked to poetry for subject matter. In “Years of Pilgrimage,” a set of solo piano suites, Liszt not only references Goethe in the title, but also prefaces many of the movements with epigraphs sourced from poems. The first suite, titled “Switzerland,” quotes predominantly from German author Friedrich Schiller and from “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” a narrative poem by Lord Byron.

This episode originally aired Sunday, August 21st, 2016. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.