Love in a Life
Love in a Life
song cycle for voice & piano (1981-1998)
- Premiere: 14 June 1999 / Ham Concert Hall, Las Vegas, Nevada / Paul Kreider, baritone / Daron Hagen, piano
- Instrumentation: voice and piano
- Duration: 22'
- Text: Robert Browning, Walt Whitman, Nuar Alsadir, Emily Dickinson, Lord Byron, Theodore Roethke, Thomas Lodge (E)
- Love in a Life (Robert Browning)
- Congedo (Nuar Alsadir)
- Ample Make This Bed (Emily Dickinson)
- Stanzas for Music (Gordon, Lord Byron)
- The Waking (Theodore Roethke)
- To You – Version 1 (Walt Whitman)
- To You – Version 2 (Walt Whitman)
- Love (Thomas Lodge)
Love in a Life is one of Hagen's song groups organized by topic — in this case, love. Each song was originally created as a "one off," and saved by the composer in a file marked "Love Songs" until finally being folded during spring 1999 into the song group. It was premiered as a set by Paul Kreider, accompanied by the composer, on 11 June 1999 at the Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The title song, Love in a Life, was written in Philadelphia, completed on 2 November 1981, and premiered by baritone Douglas Hines, accompanied by the composer, in Curtis Hall in Philadelphia on 6 April 1982. The performance constituted Hagen's first appearance as a collaborative pianist on the east coast.
Congedo was written at Yaddo, completed on 24 August 1998 and dedicated to the poet, Nuar Alsadir. Ample Make This Bed was written on 13 March 1989 in New York City's East Village, while Stanzas for Music (dedicated to pianist composer Craig Urquhart) was completed on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on 5 December 1983. The Waking was composed, according to the composer, "as a memorial to my colleague Norman Stumpf, who set the same words when we were students together in Philadelphia. It was composed between giving composition lessons at Bard College where, for a decade, I taught."
Both versions of the brief Walt Whitman poem To You were composed in Philadelphia in 1982. The first setting views the encounter from one participant's perspective, the second from the other's. The composer stipulates that they should be performed without a break. The final song, Love, along with settings of Walt Whitman, Anne Sexton, and Browning, were originally grouped as Rittenhouse Songs, and premiered under that title by Hagen and Hines. It was completed in Philadelphia on 30 October 1981
Hagen confirms his status as one of the better composers setting English texts to music. For those new to the composer's work, his music is firmly tonal and often quite lovely. His text setting shows a sensitive ear, and he is often an inspired melodist. Any of this music would be welcomed on a vocal recital, and I would encourage singers in search of new repertoire to investigate his work closely.
— John Story, Fanfare Magazine, July / August, 2000
(Banner photo: Nuar Alsadir)