Letter from Haworth : for soprano (or mezzo), clarinet, cello and piano
by Jennifer Fowler (1984)
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Library shelf no. 783.6654/FOW 3 [Available for loan]
The text of Letter from Haworth comes from a letter which Charlotte Bronte wrote in January 1845, to her friend and teacher, Monsieur Heger. During 1842 & 3, Charlotte had studied languages at a school in Brussels run by Madame Heger. Her stay there was fraught with loneliness and homesickness so that her friendship with Monsieur Heger - a lively and gifted teacher - assumed great importance.
When she returned to Yorkshire, M. Heger corresponded with her for a time, as he did with other ex-pupils, but it is obvious that a note of intensity in Charlotte Bronte's replies, put him in a difficult position and his letters became more and more infrequent. At the end of 1844 she had had no word for 6 months. She wrote, in an outburst of grief, this letter I have set.
I found the idea of setting these words interesting, because of the tension between the extremity of emotion conveyed, and the balance and control of the actual use of words. The letter is obsessed, but the intensity is contained in a controlled rise and fall. Here is rhythm, and phrasing, and a limpid simplicity which belongs to the great writer that C.B. was to become.
It seemed to me that "contained intensity" was something that one could do in music. I have tried to reflect in the music, some of that intensity and obsessiveness.
The piece was originally written in 1984, and has been revised in 2005.
Instrumentation: Soprano (or mezzo-soprano), clarinet, cello, piano.
Duration: 13 min.
First performance: by London Piace Consort — 5 Dec 84. Purcell Room, London
The text comes from a letter which Charlotte Bronte wrote in 1845, to her friend and teacher, Monsieur Heger, with who she had studied in Brussels.
Performances of this work
4 Nov 90: Goodspeed Concert Hall, University of Chicago, USA. Featuring Suzanne Summerville.
1 Jun 86: School of Music, University of Indiana, Bloomington, USA. Featuring Suzanne Summerville.
20 Nov 85: Davis Concert Hall, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. Featuring Suzanne Summerville.
5 Dec 84: Purcell Room, London. Featuring London Piace Consort.
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