Henry Dehlinger

the love song

of j. alfred

prufrock

 

A Rhapsody for Voice and Orchestra

 

2017

22'

Music by Henry Dehlinger
Words by T. S. Eliot (Epigraph from Dante's Inferno)

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ELECTRONIC REALIZATION

Dedication

To Adelaide Whitaker and composed for soprano Danielle Talamantes.

Premiere

TBA

Notes

T. S. Eliot's poetic masterpiece is reimagined in this sweeping rhapsody for high voice and orchestra that suggests the symphonic American vernacular of composers like Howard Hanson, Samuel Barber, and Leonard Bernstein. Composer Henry Dehlinger combines engaging vocal and instrumental textures with contrasting moods and colors to complement Eliot’s stream of consciousness narrative.

First published in the June 1915 issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was a new kind of poetry by a poet who was fully awake in his own era—one who expressed a modern sensibility. It reveals the tortured psyche of a prototypical modern person: urbane, eloquent, overeducated, neurotic, and paralyzed with anxiety. Prufrock, the poem's speaker, seems to be addressing a potential lover, someone with whom he desires to consummate a relationship. But all he can do is ask himself, “Do I dare?” In his mind he can only hear others chattering about his inadequacies.

To bring Prufrock to life on the concert stage, Dehlinger makes judicious use of polystylism, a growing trend in 21st century music in which elements from diverse musical genres or styles are combined. Dehlinger started the work by considering the words to be set. He then sketched out a set of discernible themes and recurring motifs, pulling together elements from different musical styles suitable to the changing moods of the narrative and that best reflected the emotional responses he wanted to elicit. Finally, he weaved these melodic and harmonic fragments into a coherent aural experience. One can even hear hints of Dehlinger's celebrated arrangements from the Duke Ellington songbook exerting a subtle but clear stylistic influence.

In the epigraph to the poem, from Dante’s Inferno, we meet the condemned soul of Guido da Montefeltro who shares his innermost secrets only because he believes his listener will never be able to betray to the world the contents of his confessions. Prufrock, like Guido, will speak without fear of incurring disgrace.

Dehlinger renders the epigraph as a sarabande, a dance in triple meter that originated in 16th century Spanish America as a fusion of Moorish and Mesoamerican dance elements and was criticized as risqué before it spread to Europe and became a slow court dance.

When crafting the sound of a tonal phrase, God is in the details. When the poem’s protagonist begins musing upon “the mermaids singing, each to each,” for example, Dehlinger utilizes an unusual blend of extended techniques: artificial harmonic glissandi in the cello part combined with an ocean drum. The result is a remarkable simulation of the sounds of the seashore as seagulls and ocean waves billow through the rich orchestral tapestry.

Publisher

Henry Dehlinger Music Publishing

Available Scores

ISMN 979-0-58047-000-3 (conductor's score)
ISMN 979-0-58047-001-0 (set of parts)
ISMN 979-0-58047-002-7 (vocal score)

To contact the publisher, click here

Categories

Vocal, Symphonic

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Upcoming Dates

  • Feb 20
    UTEP Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall,  El Paso
     
  • Feb 21
    NMSU Atkinson Recital Hall,  Las Cruces