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A Charm of Lullabies by Benjamin Britten – cradle songs or e

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Zsófia Papp

on 19 May 2015

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Transcript of A Charm of Lullabies by Benjamin Britten – cradle songs or e

Composition
1947 December

Nancy Evans, who sang in The Rape of Lucretia and in Beggar’s opera

Holland Festival at The Hague in 1948 and Britten composed these songs especially for this occasion
The poems
A Book of Lullabies 1300-1900
The concept of lullaby
a vocal piece designed to lull a child to sleep with repeated formulae

similar to lament

often archaic, such as a descending melodic line, portamento effects, stylized representations of sighing or weeping
The Songs
1. A Cradle Song - ambivalence in text and music
The cycle
scenes of life, different aspects of motherhood

A Charm of Lullabies
by Benjamin Britten – cradle songs or else?

Britten
composer, conductor and pianist
his life partner and muse - Peter Pears
his mother hoped him as the "fourth B"
"excluded himself from natural parenthood"
Hemmings regarded him as a father
“the most discriminating public”
success
A Cradle Song by William Blake (1793)
The Highland Balou by Robert Burns (1794)
Sephastia's Lullaby by Robert Greene (1589)
A Charm by Thomas Randolph (1632)
The Nurse's Song by John Philip (1561)
2. The Highland Balou - ostinato accompaniment
rather strange melody
3. Stephastia's Lullaby - slow-fast-slow
4. A Charm - if lullaby - the nastiest
5. A Nurse's song - a real one
motive of sleep
unity - process : experience - thief -
betrayal - terror - death, God

innocence - sin of individual - collective sin
- redemption
Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming o'er the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep, in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.
Hee Balou, my sweet wee Donald,
Picture o' the great Clanronald!
Brawlie kens our wanton Chief
What gat my young Highland thief.
Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee;
When thou art old there's grief enough for thee.
Mother's wag, pretty boy,
Father's sorrow, father's joy;
When thy father first did see
Such a boy by him and me,
He was glad, I was woe;
Fortune changèd made him so,
When he left his pretty boy,
Last his sorrow, first his joy.

Quiet!
Sleep! or I will make
Erinnys whip thee with a snake,
And cruel Rhadamanthus take
Thy body to the boiling lake,
Where fire and brimstones never slake;
Thy heart shall burn, thy head shall ache,
And ev'ry joint about thee quake;
And therefor dare not yet to wake!
Quiet, sleep!
The gods be thy shield and comfort in need!
The gods be thy shield and comfort in need!
Sing Lullaby baby,
Lullabylaby baby

They give thee good fortune and well for to speed,
And this to desire ... I will not delay me.
This to desire ... I will not delay me.
Christian Allegory
Full transcript