5 Songs for Soprano and Piano

on Poems by Marianne Moore

E. C. Schirmer Music Company

Catalog Number

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Classical Vocal Reprints
E. C. Schirmer Music Company
J. W. Pepper
Music Shop Europe
Presto Sheet Music
Sheet Music Plus
Stretta Music
Theodore Front

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E. C. Schirmer Music Company

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The title PROPRIETY comes from an archaic use of that word, meaning the “peculiarity” or “essential quality” of a person or thing, and in the case of this song cycle that subject is classical music itself. From the poet’s appreciation of Renaissance choral writing, to a dream in which she imagines Bach being lured by an American university to come teach young composers (along with five harpsichords!), to a poem depicting violinist Isaac Stern working to save Carnegie Hall from demolition, this cycle offers brilliantly colorful commentary on what classical music can mean, and does so with virtuosity.

1 – Mercifully
2 – Carnegie Hall: Rescued
3 – Dream
4 – Propriety
5 – Melchior Vulpius

Vocal Range
B 3  :  A 5

16′ 00″

Vocal Tessitura
G 4  :  E 5

Year of Composition

First Performance
May 14, 1995
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

First Performers
Pamela Jordan Schiffer, soprano
Juliana Hall, piano

“Moore was one of the most influential and revered vanguards of modernist poetry, and Hall clearly derived potent inspiration from Moore’s bracingly original writing. For this particular piece, Hall gathered up texts by Moore that touched on various aspects of the world of professional music, including a fascinating poem that celebrated Isaac Stern’s tireless efforts to save Carnegie Hall from the wrecking ball and another that seeks to put pretentious music critics in their place. Asymmetrical at every turn, these are the kind of texts that do not cry out for nor yield easily to musical setting, but Hall is impressively successful at capturing their peculiar charms.”

– Gregory Berg,
   NATS Journal of Singing

“A product of 1992, Hall’s song cycle Propriety makes use of verses by American poet Marianne Moore (1887 – 1972), an artist whose scant renown among her countrymen is markedly disproportionate with the great quality of her work…With her vibrant setting of ‘Carnegie Hall, Rescued,’ Hall made a valuable contribution to the rescue of American Art Song. Here and in ‘Dream,’ the composer’s tone painting is remarkably attuned to the subtexts of Moore’s words, the composer’s sensibilities engendering songs in which text and music become veritably inseparable.”

– Joseph Newsome,
   Voix des Arts

Susan Narucki, soprano
Donald Berman, piano

1 – Mercifully

2 – Carnegie Hall: Rescued

3 – Dream

4 – Propriety

5 – Melchior Vulpius