• Giles Swayne
  • Two romantic songs (1996)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

1. Ode to Autumn
2. To Sleep

  • 10 min
  • John Keats
  • English

Programme Note

These two songs were written between December 1994 and January 1996. For many years I steered clear of setting well-known poetry, feeling that a good poem is best left alone. However in December 1994 I was asked to make a setting of Keats' Ode to Autumn and in a rash moment agreed to do so. When I looked at the poem (which I had not read for ages) I was appalled, because it is extremely long, full of purple words, and cast in long sentences with tortuous secondary clauses - all of which make it highly unsuitable for setting to music. But I had agreed to do so, and when I started, it became a fascinating technical challenge to try to make work. I decided not to impose myself upon Keats, but to let him dominate me; so the style of the music is different from anything lush and romantic. Hence the title. There will be eventually three songs: when the time permits I plan to add a version of La Belle Dame sans merci.

© Giles Swayne
April 1996