Teasdale Songbook (2008)


Instrumentation: Soprano and Cello
Duration: 11:00
Text by: Sara Teasdale
Availability: Downloadable PDF

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Teasdale Songbook is based on poems by Sara Teasdale, an early twentieth century American writer who lived a dramatic life: she was connected romantically to poet Vachel Lindsay as a young woman, but eventually chose to marry another man.  That marriage failed, and though she and Lindsay remained close, both poets eventually committed suicide.

The texts used in Teasdale Songbook were carefully chosen from the writer’s many works relating to that situation and create a disjointed story of a woman faced with the temptation to commit adultery.  Most concretely, Teasdale’s “Guenevere” explores the emotions of the King Arthur’s legendary wife in a way that reflects the writer’s own experiences.  Excerpts from this poem provide the structural framework for the composition and are juxtaposed against more subtle writings to suggest a surreal reading of Teasdale’s own life.  The work cycles quickly through a number of different moods that often suggest contradictory thoughts or events, so that the division between true emotion, myth, and the fictional constructs created to mediate between the two becomes blurred and ultimately irrelevant.  

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