Dulce et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum Est

for Mezzo, Baritone, Bass, and Chamber Ensemble

Recorded live on April 19, 2018 in Werner Recital Hall at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Martin HebelComposer
Jon Noworyta - Conductor
Rebecca Printz - Mezzo-Soprano
Stephen Michael Hanna - Baritone
Michael Hyatt - Bass
Leia Carter - Clarinet
Hyeongkeon Kim - Piano
Nayoung Kim - Violin I
Dominic Mileti - Viola
Phillip Goist - Violoncello

Text by Carl Sandburg, Vera Mary Brittain, and Wilfred Owen. Download full texts and text-setting program information

Program Notes

Dulce et Decorum Est dramatizes the horrors of war by setting three WWI poems to music, not as a depiction of that specific conflict but as a study of the universal terror these verses portray.

These haunting poems recount tragic experiences of war as familiar today as when penned a century ago. Sandburg’s eloquently blunt Iron visualizes war’s inhuman machinery and its brutal consequences. Owen’s bitter Dulce et Decorum Est brings gruesome suffering vividly to life. Brittain’s Roundel mourns devastating personal loss abjectly yet unsentimentally. Intertwining these texts seeks to create a unified narrative in which each poem enhances the other’s vision and impact.

Lyrical vocal lines woven through a dissonant texture represent the poetic protagonists’ humanity amid war’s inhumanity, a juxtaposition reinforced by three additional composition techniques. First, limiting melodic and harmonic movement to only half or whole steps where possible creates detailed counterpoint with limited motion suggesting the trudging of Owen’s weary soldiers and the futility of war. Second, recurring tone clusters mirror the crashing sound of bombs and shells echoing across a battlefield. Third, composing the work without major triads establishes an unsettling atmosphere. These principles allow Dulce et Decorum Est to explore war’s destructive human impact in musical terms.

12 minutes | 2017

 
 

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