The other day, when posting a video from the wondrous Flanders & Swann, I offhandedly mentioned that Donald Swann had written a song cycle, The Road Goes Ever On, with music to text by J.R.R. Tolikien, from poems in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I had the sheet music to it, but this is serious music, not unlike a Schubert cycle of lieders. And given that my piano skills are limited, I haven't gotten very far in it. I was hoping that there might be some videos of the songs on YouTube and was planning to check it out. But thanks for reader Carolyn Brown, she beat me to the punch and found a link to the full cycle!
Though officially a video, it's just the audio portion of the recital, with images edited in. The 21-minute performance is by Stewart Henrickson, baritone, with Theo Wee at the piano. It was done on February 8, 1972 at Carleton Concert Hall in Northfield, Minnesota.
(Side note: Having nothing to do with the subject at hand, but for history buffs -- Northfield, Minnesota, is the famous location where a bank robbery attempt by Jesse James in 1876 went awry, and several members of his gang were captured, which marked the beginning of the end for the outlaw. A movie was made about this, The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid, starring Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger, and Robert Duvall as Jesse James, and written and directed by Philip Kauffman, who among other films later made The Right Stuff. Oddly enough, the movie was released the same year as this concert, 1972.)
The pieces included are --
1-The Road Goes Ever On
2-Upon the Hearth the Fire is Red
3-In the Willow-Meads of Tasarinan
4-In Western Lands
6-I Sit Beside the Fire
Know that this is not a collection of pop tunes. It's serious, classical music, though accessible. But it's a particular treat, not just for fans of Tolkien, but also Flanders & Swann. And though it's nothing like the songs they wrote together, you can hear Donald Swann's sensibility through all the music.
So, here, then is The Road Goes Ever On Poems & Songs of Middle Earth - a song cycle by Donald Swann, text by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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