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The year that's in it

The covid scythe has cut a destructive path through all of the Schubert recitals planned for 2020: three in the National Concert hall, Dublin, and one duet recital with coloratura soprano Jolien De Gendt. I have been plugging away at new repertoire so that when the bright dawn eventually appears, several programmes will be oven-ready. These are made up of songs composed in 1816, one year after Schubert's annus mirabilis, in which he wrote 157 songs — more than one-quarter of his output! Since August I have been back working with the Flemish Radio Choir, with streamed concerts and recordings (notably Morton Feldman's 'Rothko Chapel', a huge challenge at the best of times, made twice as hard through wearing a mask and social distancing.)

Some time ago I wrote a blog article about the sad death of Walther Dürr, leading light of the complete Schubert song edition undertaken by Bärenreiter. There are thirteen volumes planned in the series, and nine have been published. Picture my disappointment when learning that volume ten has been put on hold because of a) covid and b) Beethoven Year. If no new volume appears by the end of 2021, I will have run out of songs (I should point out that the only other edition of the songs, published by Peters, publishes seven volumes, a comprehensive but by no means complete survey of the songs, and sadly riddled with mistakes (additions by Diabelli, notably.) As a tribute to the great musicologist, who has made this project possible, I am translating his monumental Schubert Liedlexicon. Just for the fun of it.

Life goes on. As I negotiate the relatively barren tracts of 'Ritter Toggenburg', a tale of frustrated love and unnecessary sacrifice, I comfort myself with writing a book on philately, a humorous take on my stamp collection through the medium of doggerel, with swingeing attacks on colonialism.

Weary monarch, wan with care,

Lovely Aden calls to prayer!


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