A Community of the Imagination

Seoirse Bodley's Goethe Settings

by Lorraine Byrne Bodley (Volume editor)
©2013 Edited Collection LXVI, 94 Pages
Series: Carysfort Press Ltd., Volume 792


Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Acknowledgements
  • Biographies
  • Editorial Note
  • Crossing Thresholds: On Seóirse Bodley’s Goethe Settings
  • Seóirse Bodley, Mignon und der Harfner, Song cycle for Soprano, Baritone and piano
  • Seóirse Bodley, Gretchen, Song cycle for Soprano, Mezzo and piano
  • Seóirse Bodley, ‘Wandrers Nachtlied’ (Über allen Gipfeln)
  • Appendix 1: Mignon und der Harfner, Texts and Translations
  • Appendix 2: Gretchen, Texts and Translations

←vii | viii→


A project like this will necessarily come to rely on the help of many people in different fields of musical, literary and critical expertise. Assembling the list of those who have actively supported and encouraged my work is a special pleasure, making me realize, once again, how fortunate I am.

Progress on this book was greatly facilitated by the generous decision of the Research Office, NUI Maynooth, to award me a publication subvention; their generous support and encouragement of this apograph proved crucial to its preparation and progress. Grateful thanks are also due to Dr Attracta Halpin and the NUI Publications Committee for their generous publication subvention which supported Brian O’ Connor’s cover design, so beautifully rendered.

Many happy hours have been spent listening to and discussing these works. I realize how immensely privileged I am to have enjoyed private renditions of both cycles in our home and to have watched them come into existence. The memory of Seóirse singing and playing through each song is a pearl beyond price. Both cycles were commissioned for and received their first performances at the ‘Goethe and Music’ conferences which I organised in NUI Maynooth. I am indebted to Kathleen Tynan (soprano), Sam McElroy (baritone) and Dearbhla Collins (piano) for their premiere of Mignon und der Harfner at the conference, Goethe: Musical Poet, Musical Catalyst, on Friday, 26 March 2004. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Sylvia O’Brien (soprano), Imelda Drumm (mezzo-soprano), the Mornington Singers and their gifted conductor, Dr Orla Flanagan, all of whom premiered Gretchen with Seóirse at the conference, Music in Goethes Faust: Goethes Faust in Music, NUI Maynooth on 20 April 2012. Sylvia’s sensitive rendering of Gretchen and Imelda’s formidable musical presence as the Böser Geist, accompanied by Seóirse at the piano, brought an informed audience of Germanists and musicologists to their feet: it was one of those momentous performances which is relived many times in one’s memory. My colleagues and friends, Prof. Florian Krobb, and Dr Wolfgang Marx, who were at the heart of that conference, deserve special thanks for their encouragement and support.

These song cycles, in which Seóirse Bodley, one of the most eminent contemporary Irish composers, engages with the poetry of Goethe, one of the finest minds in European literature, are fine examples of cultural dialogue between Ireland and Germany. The publication of this apograph has been planned to coincide with Ireland holding the EU Presidency during the first six months of 2013 and to mark Seóirse Bodley’s 80th birthday in April this year. The score will be launched at a concert of both cycles performed by Sylvia O’ Brien (soprano), Owen Gilhooly (baritone), Imelda Drumm (mezzo-soprano), and David Adams (piano) on 28 April 2013. Grateful acknowledgement is made to the chant ensemble directed by Ruaidhrí Ó Dálaigh and to my colleague, Dr John O’Keeffe, for his advice. To Gavin O’Sullivan who greatly enriches Dublin’s musical life through his Hugh Lane Gallery Sundays at Noon series, I express my deepest appreciation. I warmly acknowledge the generosity of the German Embassy and in particular, Dr Eckhard Lübkemeier, German Ambassador to Ireland, who magnanimously supported this venture. I am also deeply grateful to Evonne Ferguson, Director of the Contemporary ←viii | ix→Music Centre and her colleague, Jonathan Grimes, for their warm endorsement of Seoirse’s 80th birthday concert and launch. I am particularly indebted to the warmth and generosity of John Buckley whose unwavering support of Seóirse’s music and warm endorsement of this apograph proved pivotal.

I owe much to those boon companions and lifelong friends, who have accompanied me on this musicological path. I warmly acknowledge a very deep debt of gratitude to Professor Harry White, whose unfailing encouragement has helped me past those occasional times when energies flagged, and whose friendship is of inestimable importance. I owe a very special debt of gratitude to the immensely knowledgeable and very kind, Professor Susan Youens, for being an unstinting support and guide: I am incalculably indebted to her for her unique friendship and stellar example. Two dear friends, Professor Gerard Gillen and Dr Patrick Devine, have helped me immeasurably with their unfailing good humour and gentle encouragement; they have my love and gratitude for their enduring friendship. It is a pleasure to acknowledge in writing Professor Julian Horton’s scholarly certitude and musical resource; at every musicological gathering he is always to the fore, a guarantor of the good cheer and good will that have made our scholarly collaboration such a happy experience. I owe the very existence of this book to Dan Farrelly, General Editor of Carysfort Press and dearest of friends, whose unwavering support has been inimitable. Dan exercised his razor-sharp acumen on this manuscript; the good-humoured assistance of all at Carysfort Press has been outstanding. For the opportunity to share this work with an audience of colleagues and friends, I thank Barbara Dignam. I also found welcome encouragement from Gareth Cox whose biography, Seóirse Bodley, has been revelatory; his first reaction to this apograph mattered greatly. My thanks to Patrick Zuk, who organized the first international conference on Irish music and musicians at the University of Durham in July 2010, at which I presented a paper on Seóirse’s songs, and to Seamus de Barra, for his wisdom and acuity on that occasion.

Numerous colleagues, friends and anonymous individuals in lecture audiences in Ireland, the UK, Germany, and North America have challenged ideas and supplemented information about Goethe’s Gretchen, Mignon and the Harper. The distinguished roster that follows is symbolic rather than exhaustive: given the passage of ten years since my first monograph on Schubert’s settings of these texts appeared, it is impossible to remember all the interesting conversations I have had, all the email messages kindly sent after a lecture or paper, and all the suggestions and advice offered. Thanks, therefore, to Julian Horton (University College Dublin); Denise Neary (Royal Irish Academy of Music); Adrian Scahill, Paul Higgins and Niall Kinsella (NUI Maynooth); Graham Johnson (Guildhall School of Music and Drama); Richard Stokes and Ian Partridge (Royal Academy of Music, London); Crawford Howie (Schubert Institute UK); Amanda Glauert (Royal College of Music, London); Martin Swales (University of London); Alison Browner (Frankfurt); Aylish Kerrigan (Stuttgart); Claus Canisius (Heidelberg); Christiane Schumann (Deutsche Schubert Gesellschaft, Duisburg); Walther Dürr (University of Tübingen); Richard Kramer (City University of New York); Blake Howe (Louisiana State University); Deborah Stein (New England Conservatory); Lisa Feurzeig (Grand Valley State University); Juergen Thym (Eastman School of Music); Laura Tunbridge (University of Manchester); John Michael Cooper (Southwestern University, Texas); Thomas Bauman (Northwestern University); Sharon and Harald Krebs (University of Victoria); Kathryn Whitney (Victoria Conservatory of Music); Marjorie Hirsch (Williams College); Brian Black (University of Lethbridge). The author and publisher wish to thank Ashgate for their permission to develop some of the contextual detail in Lorraine Byrne Bodley, Schubert’s Goethe Settings (Ashgate, 2003).

The painting, Mignon (1828), by Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow (1788-1862) which graces the cover is courtesy of akg-images/Museum der bildenden Kunst, Leipzig; the images by Harry Clarke illustrate the Street and Prison scenes of Goethe’s Faust 1 ←ix | x→(author’s private library) and the photograph of the plaque which now commemorates Goethe’s original inscription of ‘Wandrers Nachtlied’ on the wall of a hunting lodge is the author’s own.


LXVI, 94
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2013. LXVI, 94 pp., 84 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Lorraine Byrne Bodley (Volume editor)


Title: A Community of the Imagination
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162 pages