Op. 20 – Troubadour Songs

Voice and Chamber

  • Instrumentation: Baritone, flute (piccolo), oboe, clarinet, horn, piano, percussion, and double bass
  • Text: Judy Brugger, after Bernart de Ventadourn
  • Composed: 1992
  • Time: 17 minutes
  1. Bleak Moor
  2. Some Kind of Pain
  3. Mask the Hurt
  4. Alas! I Shall Die

To the troubadours of medieval France, love and adultery were intertwined. In a society where marriages were arranged, true love was something that only happened outside of marriage, and so idealized as something unattainable. The idealized lady was to be worshipped from afar. As a frequent de facto practitioner of this kind of courtly love, I was always fascinated by the medieval poetry represented by the troubadours, and so I set about selecting a number of poems by the most highly regarded troubadour poet, Bernart de Ventadourn. Judy Brugger provided me with adaptations of these poems in modern vernacular English.

I have always loved the music of Machaut and Dufay, and this score pays ample tribute to these masters. My settings combine the flavor of medieval music with modern popular rhythms and turns of phrase. The third song Mask the Hurt incorporates, as a cantus firmus, a more modern lament to unrequited love.

The first and fourth songs have a higher tessitura than the second and third. The use of two vocalists, a tenor and a bass, is a valid performance possibility, one utilized in the first performance of this work.

I hope to offer performance materials for this work in the future.