Commissioned by Gewandhausorchester Leipzig

  • 4(2&3=pic,4=afl).2+ca.heck.4(4=bcl).asx.3+cbn/4.4(4=btpt).3(A,T & B).1+Wtba/timp.4perc/
  • SATB
  • 20 min

Programme Note

This "eulogy" is by way of an obituary filled with memories and mementos, of sadness, loss and sorrow. A friendship that lasted for almost half a century is destroyed, dead and will not come again. But it lives on in thoughts and affectionate feelings. In this unfamiliar and empty world in which I find myself, it is not easy, nor perhaps possible, to cope, even undesirable to do so. Yet my thoughts and feelings constantly return to a relationship that was unique.

In the four movements of this song of praise, to poems by Franco Serpa, in which human voices blend with instrumental sonorities, the one maintaining the movement of the other, spectral and many-formed images of people and occasions arise, from near and far, from the broad spectrum of mankind as well as the mysterious realm of the animal kingdom.

The sun casts its light all around, illuminating everything: the joys of conversation, the love of life, the wonders of nature; in all, the beauties and terrors of the world.

© Hans Werner Henze

English translation of original Latin text (for the Latin text see below):
Elogium Musicum
In praise of a best beloved now far away

I The Falcon

Do you weep?
Know this: there were once two falcons
Shining birds of fleetest force
They are etched on my memory.
I remember, oh I remember, that saddest of days.
One of them was struck down by outrageous fortune
Shot through, shred to pieces,
Thrown down from high heaven
With wings spread, unwillingly, fan-like,
Red, cold, lifeless, he crashed into the dark sand.
The other flew off, bereaved, into the night without you.

II The Night

I am done for!
A voice sounds out with a fearful cry, with a shriek of dread …
Fausto Ubaldo,
You, the comeliest of all from the mansions of legend,
Where are you now? To whom have you departed?

Vultures, dark crows, black menacing monsters raucously cawing.
The earth shudders with terror,
The poplar tree trembles like silver lilies.
Eruptions, ghastly ruination, nocturnal groaning,
The world is laid waste,
Irretrievably wasted,
Unyielding, blind.

III The Crickets

The sun flames. The summer blazes. The crickets sing.

Chorus of women constantly and continuously right to the end
They begin softly, later their voices become agitated.

Zika Zika Zaus and Strauss
Sinus triste trillo schrillo

Singen scherzen schreien zetern zucken Zimt …
[German: They sing, they joke, they shout, they clamour, they start, all Nonsense]

Chorus of men

You, dear maidens, now lend us your ears,
Our song sounds out, telling of delightful deeds:
Indeed we will lay you bare, we will promise you pleasures
Thus will we change you into a thousand shining spirits.

On and on they rattle, buzzing their way to vexation and loathsome unbearable tedium

Fausto speaks to the crickets
Fausto, the king of trees and flowers, the king of the woods
In a deep voice he utters one word: BASTA! [Enough!]

Suddenly there is silence, perfect peace.

IV Adagio

Sweet tenderness
The sight of young men, beautiful as sacred images, eyes of opal, black she-panthers,
A secret tranquil retreat,
Religious repose covers the whole world and the light of day and the new brilliancy of the sun,
Where eagles fly, and larks and swallows
Always chanting many thanksgivings, in joys, in sins.
God praises us, and we praise God, we give thanks to God
Who gives us grace.

Orignal Latin text by Franco Serpa:

Elogium Musicum
amatissimi amici nunc remoti

I. Accipiter

Luges tu?
Scis adhuc, erant olim accipitres duo,
alites vi celerrima nitidi.
Eorum memoria me tenet.
tristissimam diem memini.
Alter ob infestum fatum ictus est,
transfictus, laceratus,
caelo deiectus ab alto.
Passis sicut flabellis alis
in arenam concidit atram,
ruber, frigidus, exanimis.
Alter solus evolavit in noctem,
sine te, orbatus.

II. Nox

Vae mihi ! Vox sonantior
ploratu pavoris, eiulatu horroris...
Fausto Ubaldo,
omnium pulcherrime
a fabularum sedibus,
ubi nunc es? quo gentium abisti?
Vultures, fuscae cornices,
atrae beluae, stridentes et minaciter truces.
Tremit metu terra,
tremula populus sicut argentea lilia,
eruptiones, ruinae atroces, nocturni stridores,
desertus est mundus,
infinite desertus,
durus, caecus.

III. Cicadae

Sol fulget, flagrat aestas, cantant cicadae,
Chorus mulierum
constanter et continue usque ad finem, submisse incipiunt, postea voces concitant
Zika, zika, Zaus et Strauss,
Sinus triste trillo schrillo
singen scherzen schreien zetern zucken Zimt

Chorus virorum
Vos, puellae carae, nunc nobis aures date,
nostrum carmen personat, gest(a) amoena narrans:

sane vos nudabimus, grata pollicemur,
mill(e) in claros spiritus sic vos convertemus.

usque ad molestiam, ad intolerabile tædium strident, strepunt.

Ad cicadam loquitur Fausto,
Fausto, rex arborum et florum, rex silvarum,
gravi voce,
unum verbum dicit: BASTA!
Subita silentia, pax perfecta.

IV. Adagio

Suavis teneritudo,
visio puerorum, qui pulchri sunt sicut sacrae effigies, oculi ex opalo, nigrae pardales,
recessus abditus quietus,
religiosa quies convestit totum mundum, lucem diei, solis novam claritatem,
qua aquilae volitant, alaudae, hirundines,
multum canentes multas grates, in gaudiis, in peccatis.
Deus nos laudat et nos Deum, Deo gratias agimus,
qui nobis gratiam persolvit.