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Benjamin Britten composed his five Canticles between 1947 and 1974. Halfway between sacred hymns and a song cycle, they represent one of the composer’s most enigmatic and original creations. Based on a seventeenth-century poem that, in turn, was inspired by the Song of Songs, the first canticle pays homage to the music of Henry Purcell. The second is based on one of the (sixteenth century) Chester Mystery Plays and tells the story of Abraham and Isaac. The last three are based on contemporary texts by Edith Sitwell (Canticle III) and T. S. Eliot (Canticles IV and V). Specifically, the third describes the German bombing of London in 1940, the fourth imagines the trip the Three Wise Men made to Bethlehem and, finally, the fifth narrates the death of Saint Narcissus of Jerusalem.
The Fundación Juan March presents its new concert season 2018-2019, consisting of 160 concerts divided into 28 different projects including opera, dance, melodramas, concert series, jazz and educational concerts, presented by first-rate Spanish and international performers. The season, as has become customary, addresses musical genres and styles that cover practically all of music history, from Medieval music to contemporary composition, in very different styles and aesthetics including jazz and popular music, and features over 300 performers, 700 programmed works and 300 composers, 68 of them living.
Presentation by Javier Gomá, Director of the Fundación Juan March
Presentation by Miguel Ángel Marín, Director of the Fundación Juan March music program
Romanticism reached France through writers such as Victor Hugo (1802-1885), whose poems caught the attention of composers both within and outside France like Camille Saint-Saëns and Franz Liszt. With Paul Verlaine (1844-1946), French poetry entered a new phase, whose refined symbolism served as inspiration for composers like Fauré, Hahn and Debussy. In this case, a selection of songs for soprano and piano are performed, based on poems by these two writers, demonstrating the extraordinary musicality of nineteenth-century French poetry.
The history of Portugal has defined the character of its music, which was open to European, African and Brazilian influences. This mixture produced genres like the modinha, a sentimental song that originated in Portugal and Brazil and was cultivated in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Modinhas were popular in courtly salons in Portugal and were written for one or two voices, accompanied by a harpsichord and a low-pitched stringed instrument that doubled the bass line. However, this genre, with its sentimental and romantic nature, evolved in two directions: one with features from the Italian opera aria and the other a simpler character. Here, a selection of modinhas and other Portuguese songs from the end of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries are performed, some of which can be considered precursors of the fado.
In the autumn of 1828, while he contemplated how life was slipping away from him, Franz Schubert composed three monumental piano sonatas. The “Andantino” from the Sonata D 959 begins with a languid melody of weeping gestures. Against this, an impetuous section of extreme and violent sonorities develops before once again leading back to the varied repetition of the opening section. In this way, the ineffable destiny ultimately imposes its will.