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Music Text

Leonard Bernstein, Jennie Bernstein, Yankev-Yitskhok Segal (E,Yid)


1(=picc).1(=corA).1(=Ebcl,asax).1- tom-t/
trap set(hi-hat cym/ride cym/BD)/cyms/susp.cym/low gong/crot/
slapstick/rainstick/auto brake dr/police whistle/tamb/tgl/wdbl/
glsp/xyl/vib-strings( or

Abbreviations (PDF)


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Programme Note

Arias and Barcarolles began life as a song cycle for piano four-hands and four singers (SABB), but shortly afterwards, the composer reduced the vocal forces to two singers, mezzo-soprano and baritone. It is “literary” in a very personal sense: Bernstein wrote most of the texts for these eight songs himself. Its title stems from an encounter he had with President Eisenhower: following a 1960 White House concert in which Bernstein conducted Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the President remarked, “I liked that last piece you played. I like music with a theme, not all them [sic] arias and barcarolles.” Arias and Barcarolles is a work of reminiscences, touching on birth, infancy, the mystery of creativity in conflict with mundane affairs, inconclusive liaisons, married life, and death. The final song, a wordless Nachspiel, is, in Jack Gottlieb’s words, “a simple Schubertian waltz,” It serves as a poignant ending to this, Bernstein’s last major work.

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