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Peter Lieberson

Publisher: AMP

Rilke Songs (2001)
Text Writer
Rainer Maria Rilke
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
mezzo soprano
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Programme Note
Peter Lieberson Rilke Songs (2001)
Composer Note:

O ihr Zärtlichen
Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!
Stiller Freund
Blumenmuskel, der der Anemone
Wolle die Wandlung

When I was growing up, my mother, whose first language was German, would often quote lines from Rilke. I have been drawn to his poetry ever since.

Rilke seems to evoke feelings, states of being that are at the edge of awareness, mysterious but close to the heart. One can't always understand exactly what he means. I believe this is a deliberate elusiveness in order to provoke our intuition.

The Rilke Songs were written for my wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. I think of them as love songs even though the poems themselves are not overtly about love. They are about being childlike and open in 'O ihr Zärtlichen'; in 'Atmen, du unsichtbares Gedicht!,' about the breath being a complete exchange between our own essence and the universe, how the breath seems to go out into space like our wandering son; the mysterious way in which we might transform ourselves: "If drinking is bitter, turn yourself into wine (from 'Stiller Freund'). To me these Rilkean insights are a gift of love.

— Peter Lieberson

  • Ensemble
    Odense Symphony
    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano / William Purvis, horn / Michaela Fukacova, violoncello / Peter Serkin, piano
    Bridge Records:
  • Soloist(s)
    Peter Serkin (Piano), Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Mezzo Soprano)
  • Soloist(s)
    Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Mezzo Soprano), Roger Vignoles (Piano)
    Wigmore Hall Live:
Mr. Lieberson's RILKE SONGS, three of five written for his wife [Lorraine Hunt Lieberson], were a highlight [of the evening.] Lieberson has created some [beautiful] contemporary German lieder. Although the poetry is not conventionally romantic, they certainly sound like love songs...Respecting the words' profundity, intricacy and natural rhythm, his music here is also tinged with a German romantic tonality, [and] shades of Strauss and Wagner.
Anne Midgette, The New York Times,01/01/0001
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