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RC 38 Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)

text source

Poèmes saturniens (Paris: Léon Vanier 1894), 53-54

first performance

onbekend

recordings

  • Anniversary Edition 7 Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD7

publications

  • Bijlage bij De Kroniek 4 nr. 158 Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”) 1898-01-02 00:00:00.0

  • Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)
  • Verlaine, Paul
  • vocal quartet
  • 1897-09-08 00:00:00.0
  • duration 1:40

Chanson d’automne is the first text by Paul Verlaine that Diepenbrock set to music. Over the years eight more were to follow, which shows that of the modern French poets, Diepenbrock felt most attracted to Verlaine. To his friend Charles Smulders, a Belgian composer with whom he often discussed work, Diepenbrock described Verlaine’s poetry – in a letter dated 10 November 1898 – as follows: Cette poésie [...] exige une certaine monotonie par laquelle se traduit une langueur, ou bien une passion ardente et profonde mais continue. (This poetry [...] requires a certain monotony which expresses a languor, or an ardent and profound, yet continuous passion.) …more >

Chanson d'automne (incipit)


Chanson d’automne is the first text by Paul Verlaine that Diepenbrock set to music. Over the years eight more were to follow, which shows that of the modern French poets, Diepenbrock felt most attracted to Verlaine. To his friend Charles Smulders, a Belgian composer with whom he often discussed work, Diepenbrock described Verlaine’s poetry – in a letter dated 10 November 1898 – as follows: Cette poésie [...] exige une certaine monotonie par laquelle se traduit une langueur, ou bien une passion ardente et profonde mais continue. (This poetry [...] requires a certain monotony which expresses a languor, or an ardent and profound, yet continuous passion.)

Diepenbrock’s interest in Verlaine goes back to when he was a student. We may assume that the collections Les poètes maudits (The Accursed Poets, 1884 – with poems by Verlaine, Corbière, Rimbaud and Mallarmé) and Verlaine’s Poèmes saturniens (Saturnian Poems, 1884) were discussed at length among his Amsterdam friends. When Verlaine gave a lecture in Amsterdam on 7 November 1892, during a two-week visit to the Netherlands, Diepenbrock was present. With great curiosity Diepenbrock inquired with his friends about the gathering in The Hague at which Verlaine also spoke. In September 1893 he enjoyed reading Verlaine’s report, which was published under the title Quinze jours en Hollande (Fifteen Days in the Netherlands); he called it “charming and petty”. (BD II:19)

Four years later, on 8 September 1897, Diepenbrock composed his Chanson d’automne (Autumn Song) for the Amsterdamsch Vocal Quartet, consisting of Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius, Cato Loman, Johan Rogmans and Johannes Messchaert. It was a day after he had attended rehearsals for their (second) concert tour of 26 towns throughout the Netherlands. The programme included Diepenbrock’s Dämmerung (Twilight, RC 7) and the Vijftiende-eeuwsch bruyloftlied (Fifteenth-Century Wedding Song, RC 10). Diepenbrock attended their concerts in Dordrecht (9 September), Amsterdam (9 October) and Zaandam (31 October) and enjoyed the excellent performances of his two works. Unfortunately, after the concert tour the Amsterdamsch Vocal Quartet broke up because of internal disagreements.

It took almost two decades for the conductor of a professional vocal ensemble, Sem Dresden, to include Chanson d’automne in one of his programmes. Diepenbrock was very charmed by the beautiful performance in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw by the Madrigal Society on 24 October 1916. (BD IX:177)

With its concise proportions of only 25 measures, Diepenbrock’s Chanson d’automne is a musical gem. The despondent and disconsolate mood evoked by Verlaine’s poem with short lines is expressed through an elegiac melody and refined harmonies, often with chromatic middle voices. Most remarkable are the rest in the first measure of the tenor part, depicting “sanglots” (sobs), and the momentary F-sharp major on the words “je me souviens” (I remember) in m. 13.

Ton Braas



Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur
Monotone.

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens,
Et je pleure.

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.


  • B-19(15) Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)

    • 1
    • 2

    B-19(15) dated and signed on the last page 8 September 1897 / A Diepenbrock

    • 1897-09-08 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: 2
  • A-48(9) Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)

    A-48(9) dated on the last page 8 Sept 1897

    • 1897-09-08 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown
  • SL-1 Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)

    Autograph in the possession of Mrs J. Sibbet-Raphael (Swarthmore, USA), signed and dated on the last page A Diepenbrock / 8 Sept 1897, with a remark in the margin of the first page “Memor fui dierum antiquorum” / Ps. 142;5

    • 1897-09-08 00:00:00.0
    • dedication: “Memor fui dierum antiquorum” / Ps. 142;5
    • location: Mrs J. Sibbet-Raphael (Swarthmore, USA)
    • pages: unknown

  • click to enlarge

    Anniversary Edition 7

    cd Et'cetera KTC 1435 CD7
    Nederlands Kamerkoor ♦ Stok, Klaas ♦ Gronostay, Uwe ♦ Vocaal Ensemble Markant ♦ Haenchen, Hartmut ♦ Netherlands Radio Choir ♦ Antunes, Celso ♦ Quink Vocaal Ensemble

    Tracks: #1 = RC 7; #2 = RC 36; #3 = RC 85; #4 = RC 86; #5 = RC 87; #6 = RC 38; #7 = RC 56; #8 = RC 63; #9 = RC 28; #10 = RC 5; #11 = RC 34; #12 = RC 35; #13 = RC 119; #14 = RC 57

  • Bijlage bij De Kroniek 4 nr. 158 Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)

    1898-01-02 00:00:00.0

30 okt 1901: Eerste uitvoering van Chanson d'automne in de Kleine Zaal van het Concertgebouw te Amsterdam door het Zalsman-Kwartet, bestaande uit N. Bohm, Hermine Scholten, Carl Philippeau en Gerard Zalsman. Voorts wordt van Diepenbrock nog gezongen het Vijftiende-eeuwsch bruyloftslied (RC 10), van Smulders het Ave Maria, terwijl het programma verder bestaat uit werken van Mendelssohn, Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Bortniansky, Brahms, Praetorius, Löwe, Leichner, Donati en Loots.

Deze jonge vocale vereeniging [...] gaf gisteravond een concert in de kleine zaal van het Concertgebouw, dat weer, evenals bijna alle concerten in deze zaal, zeer slecht bezocht was en dat toch grooter belangstelling verdiend had. — Van de 16 werken die werden voorgedragen waren de meesten van gewijden aard en schonken ons ruimschoots de gelegenheid met de eigenschappen van dit Quartet kennis te maken. [...] De Nederlandsche werken maakten een zeer goed figuur onder de voorgedragen compositiën. Het Ave Maria van Smulders, dat mooi werd gezongen, is interessant; de beide werkjes van Loots (het eerste een aardig gekleurd wiegenlied en het tweede een opgewekt nummer) getuigden weer van de natuurlijke compositiegaven van dezen kunstenaar en de beide koren van Diepenbrock, waarvan het tweede ons reeds bekend was, doch waarvan het eerste: Chanson d'Automne, gedicht van Paul Verlaine – dat mij trof door de sombere herfststemming die zoo schoon in de muziek is weergegeven – voor het eerst werd uitgevoerd, vormden een waardig slot van dezen avond, die aan de uitvoerders een steeds stijgend succes verschafte.

Algemeen Handelsblad (v.M. [= S. van Milligen]), 31 oktober 1901

pdf All reviews for RC 38 Chanson d’automne (“Les sanglots longs”)