Friday, April 2, 2010

April is Poetry Month

Poetry usually brings to mind arty "readings," poetry slams, and tortured high school English assignments. But we live surrounded by poetry every day, and we usually call it "music." Almost all vocal music is sung poetry. From ancient Greek odes to Renaissance settings of Petrarch to nineteenth-century lieder based on Goethe to modern rap and country music, poetry is the basis for song.

Some poets became favorites of Lieder and art song composers. One place to find settings of a particular poem or poet is Index to Poetry In Music, in the Reference collection: ML128.S3 B69 2003.

The Lied and Art Song Texts Page has indexes by composer, poet, and title as well.

Many composers set "cycles" or groups of songs to poetry by one poet. Favorite German-language poets for cycles were Goethe, Heinrich Heine, and Wilhelm Müller. Use keyword searching to find CDs of music set to specific poets' works, e.g. "heine and compact and lieder or songs."

Search CardCat for books on poetry and music.