These Six Early Songs, as the title implies, are youthful works written at various times during the years 1944 and 1945. Spending most of my musical energies as solo hornist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, I nevertheless found enough time to study a rather wide range of musical literature from Alban Berg’s then still very little known music to Duke Ellington’s masterpieces of the early 1940s, with everything imaginable in between—including Ravel’s Histoires Naturelles, to which these songs owe a decided debt.
I was fascinated by the beautiful imagery of Klabund’s settings, their verbal succinctness and purity, and what I regarded then as their “modernity”—and still do. For reasons that I can no longer detail—perhaps there are none—I never tried to get these songs performed or published. My musical language changed rapidly in the succeeding years, and it wasn’t until 1973 that the songs were premiered. The occasion was one of Eleanor Steber’s remarkable recitals in Alice Tully Hall, at which time the songs were performed with a just previously made orchestration with the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra performing the accompaniment honors.
It is my hope that these early modest efforts will now find easier currency, both in their piano and orchestral garbs.