Thomas Hardy's Winter Words. A song cycle by Benjamin Britten.


Thomas Hardy's Winter Words.

A song cycle by Benjamin Britten.


Winter Words, subtitled' Lyrics and Ballads by Thomas Hardy' was composed to be performed at the Leeds Festival, in October 1953. The first performance was given with Peter Pears as singer, and Britten as accompanist.

The overall theme of Winter Words seems to be 'The loss of innocence through the birth of consciousness.' Britten was haunted by this idea for most of his adult life.

The first poem used in this song collection is 'At the close of day in November.' The song describes the condition of the countryside at the end of a late Autumn day.

In 'Midnight on the Great Western.' an orphan boy rides a train, alone, to an unknown destination, and an unknown future.

'Wagtail and baby.' Is an account of a small child's observations at a forded stream. Britten musically conveys the sound of creaking in 'The Little Old Table.'

'The Choirmaster burial.' Is an amusing song, where the vicar bans the playing of the choirmaster's favourite song.

'Proud songsters.' Is a boisterous invocation of Thrushes, Finches and Nightingales.

In' At the Railway Station, Upwey.' We are introduced to a convict, whose heart is overjoyed at the fiddle playing of a small boy.

'Before Life and After.' Is the final song in which the main theme of 'Loss of

Innocence' is most strongly projected.


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