Robert Starer: Vocal Works



Robert Starer










To Think


of Time












Robert Starer was born in Vienna in 1924 and entered the State Academy of Music at the age of thirteen. Soon after Hitler's annexation of Austria in 1938, he went to Jerusalem and continued his musical studies at the Palestine Conservatoire. During World War II, he served with the British Royal Air Force. In 1947, he came to New York for post-graduate study at Juilliard and also studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood in 1948. He became an American citizen in 1957. He taught at Juilliard from 1949 to 1974 and at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York from 1963 to 1991. He was named a Distinguished Professor in 1986. Among his honors are two Guggenheim Fellowships and grants from the National Endowment and the Ford Foundation. He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1994.




His works for the stage include three operas and several ballets for Martha Graham. His orchestral works have been performed by major orchestras here and abroad under such conductors as Dimitri Mitropoulos, Leonard Bernstein, William Steinberg, Enrich Leinsdorf and Zubin Mehta. Interpreters of his music include Roberta Peters, Leontyne Price and Janos Starker. The recording of his Violin Concerto (Itzhak Perlman with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa) was nominated for a Grammy award in 1986. His book CONTINUO: A Life in Music was published by Random House in 1987. Excerpts from it have appeared in the New Yorker, Musical America, and the London Times. His complete works for solo piano (1946-1991) have recently been published in one volume.








Remembering Felix is my fifth collaboration with Gail Godwin. It was commissioned by Chamber Music PLUS for Robert J. Lurtsema who is known for his ability to switch from one voice to another. Gail Godwin decided to create a character entirely out of the remembrances and opinions of others. She named him Felix--you never find out his last name--and we decided to make him a musician, a pianist, born in Poland, educated in Paris and Vienna, who had lived in the United States and died suddenly while giving a master class. Thus you hear about him from his publicist, his accountant, his students, two critics and others.








To Think of Time for soprano and string quartet was commissioned by Horizon Concerts in 1984. I had just passed my sixtieth birthday and was looking for texts that would deal with the kind of questions one asks oneself at that age. I found that Walt Whitman, in the last years of his life, had dealt with such questions extensively and had faced them frankly, openly and, as always, most poetically. Thus the four poems that constitute this cycle come from the last pages of his collected works. On November 17, 1986, at the Conservatory Convocation at which President Hess announced that I had been named a Distinguished Professor, Ann Donaldson (later to star as 'Apollonia') sang them with the Bethesda String Quartet.








To Think of Time




To think of time--of all that retrospection,


To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward.




Have you guess'd you yourself would not continue?


Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?


Have you fear'd the future would be nothing to you?




Is to-day nothing? is the beginningless past nothing?


If the future is nothing they are just as surely nothing.


To think that the sun rose in the east that men and women were flexible, real, alive--that every thing was alive,


To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part,


To think that we are now here and bear our part.




After the Dazzle of Day




After the dazzle of day is gone,


Only the dark, dark night shows to my eyes the stars;


After the clangor of organ majestic, or chorus, or perfect band,


Silent, athwart my soul, moves the symphony true.




Yet, Yet, Ye Downcast Hours




Yet, yet, ye downcast hours, I know ye also,


Weights of lead, how ye clog and cling at my ankles,




Earth to a chamber of mourning turns--I hear the o'erweening, mocking voice,


Matter is conqueror--matter, triumphant only, continues onward.




Despairing cries float ceaselessly toward me,


The call of my nearest lover, putting forth, alarm'd uncertain,


The sea I am quickly to sail, come tell me;


Come tell me where I am speeding, tell me my destination.




I understand your anguish, but cannot help you,


I approach, hear, behold, the sad mouth, the look out of the eyes, your mute inquiry,


Whither I go from the bed I recline on, come tell me;


Old age, alarm'd, uncertain--a young woman's voice, appealing to me for comfort;


A young man's voice, Shall I not escape?




Darest Thou Now O Soul




Darest thou now O soul,


Walk out with me toward the unknown region,


Where neither ground is for the feet nor any path to follow?




No map there, nor guide,


Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,


Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.




I know it not O soul,


Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,


All waits undream'd of it in that region, that inaccessible land.




Til when the ties loosen,


All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,


Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.




Then we burst forth, we float,


In Time and Space O soul, prepared for them,


Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil O soul.




Night Thoughts for Vocal Quartet and Piano Four-Hands




Night Thoughts for Chorus and Synthesizer was written in 1990 and premiered by the Concert Chorale of New York under Amy Kaiser's direction on December 2, 1990.




In 1992, I wrote a new version of Night Thoughts, this one for Vocal Quartet and Piano FourúHands, for Edgar and Adelaide Roberts, who gave the premiere of this version on May 25, 1993.




The texts for Night Thoughts comes from a variety of sources. They include a poem by the Elizabethan poet Phineas Fletcher, an anonymous line found in Bartlett's Quotations ("A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men") and ancient Hebrew (Sh'ma Yisrael), Christian (Kyrie Eleison), and Buddhist (Om mani padme om) prayers. I wrote the connecting lines myself.




Robert Starer








Robert J. Lurtsema has been called a "man of 100 voices" and "the modern day Renaissance man," but he is best known as host of Public Radio's Morning Pro Musica since 1971.




Harry Clark, cellist, and Sanda Schuldmann, pianist, have played, commissioned and premiered a number of Robert Starer's works including his Piano Trio, Cello Sonata, Remembering Felix and, most recently, the chamber version of NISHMAT ADAM (The Soul of Man)




Ann Keri Donaldson (Soprano) performed To Think of Time in New York and at the Aspen Music Festival. She also sang the leading role in Robert Starer's opera "Apollonia," staged in New York on May 5, 1990. She is the winner of many prestigious competitions and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras at Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.




The Mariani String Quartet was founded in 1987 by Canadian violinist Jonathan Hazen. Mr. Hazen studied at the Royal Conservatory of Canada, the Mozarteum Hochschule in Salzburg and the Juilliard School. His honors include the Fournier Prize and the Canadian Young Artists Competition.




Nicholas Orbavich (violin), graduate of DePaul University, is currently the principal violinist with the South Bend Symphony and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.




Ralph Boyd (viola) has been director of the Shreveport Music Festival and Chicago's Loop Group. He teaches at Elmhurst College and Concordia University in Illinois.




Sarah Wollan (cello) studied privately in Paris and Vienna and received an M.S degree at Indiana University where she was a pupil of Janos Starker. She has toured throughout Europe as soloist and in chamber concerts.




Theresa Santiago (Soprano) won first prize in the 1994 W. Naumburg International Vocal Competition in Concert Repertoire. A native New Yorker, Ms. Santiago is a graduate of Juilliard, where she studied with Daniel Ferro.




Jennifer Hines (mezzo-soprano) attended the Aspen Festival, the Bel Canto Institute and the Tanglewood Music Center. In 1990 she won the ARTS Competition and in 1991 the Young Artist Concert Auditions.




Anthony Griffey (tenor) is a graduate of Wingate College. He received a Fellowship at the Eastman School of Music and recently gave a recital for the people and the President of Taiwan.




Neil Michaels (baritone) has appeared with the Chautauqua Opera, Opera Buffa, the Juilliard Opera Theater and the College Light Opera Company.




Adelaide and Edgar Roberts have performed together as a team for thirty years, in this country as well as in Denmark, Mexico, Italy and England. They have performed Robert Starer's Sonata for Two Pianos and his Fantasia Concertante for Piano Four-Hands on numerous occasions. Edgar Roberts holds BS and MS degrees from the Juilliard School, where he has been on the piano faculty of the Pre-College Division since 1946. He is also Adjunct Professor of Music Education at New York University. Adelaide Roberts received her AB degree from Georgian Court College and her MS from Syracuse University.






Robert Starer


Remembering Felix


An Aquaintance (5:23)


Amanda His Publicist (2:20)


His Accountant (1:58)


A Dear Friend (5:34)


Two Critics (3:19)


His Students (7:28)


Robert J. Lurtsema, narrator • Harry Clark, cello • Sanda Schuldmann, piano


To Think of Time


To Think of Time (3:33)


After the Dazzle of Day (3:28)


Yet, Yet, Ye Downcast Hours (5:18)


Darest Thou Now O Soul (5:50)


Ann Keri Donaldson, soprano • The Mariani String Quartet


Night Thoughts (13:07)


Theresa Santiago, soprano • Jennifer Hines, mezzo-soprano


Anthony Griffey, tenor • Neil Michaels, baritone • Adelaide & Edgar Roberts, piano


Total Time = 57:43