1 - Spleen

Composer
Lyricist
Ernest Dowson
Difficulty
Difficult (Grades 7+)
Duration
5 minutes
Genre
Modern classical music
Instrumentation
Voice + keyboard
Instrumental parts
Not available

These songs, settings of four poems by Ernest Dowson (1867 – 1900), are presented in a revised version incorporating some improvements suggested by Juan Ortega, to whom my thanks are due.

Dowson is frankly not one of the world’s great poets, but his verse has a peculiar musicality of its own. The best of it seems to be crying out to be sung rather than spoken, even when his subject matter is not particularly interesting, and even though the way he uses the English language can be clumsy and inelegant.

The title of this first song, “Spleen”, is used in an older sense, when that organ was thought to be the seat of the darker emotions. In this instance, the dark emotion seems to be what most of us would probably call depression, brought on by spending all day trying not to think about someone, and then being unable to sleep at night for thinking about – just that very person.

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