Nuit et l’Amour, La (Augusta Holmès)
Author(s)HOLMÈS, Augusta (1847-1903)
Interlude from the “ode-symphonie” Ludus pro patria, for choirs and orchestra with verse recitation, premiered at the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire in Paris, conducted by M. J. Garcin (the work’s dedicatee), on 4 March 1888.
Inspired by the painting of the same name by French artist Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Ludus pro patria (Patriotic Games) by Augusta Holmès, premiered on 4 March 1888, combines warlike and romantic themes almost seamlessly. Naturally gifted, ambitious and passionate about the arts, Holmès engineered her works from start to finish, leaving nothing to chance; from the poem which she wrote herself (like Wagner, her lifelong role model) to the appointment of Mounet-Sully whom she insisted should take the role of narrator. Her choice of the ode-symphonie genre – characterised by the presence of a narrator – was however highly significant since it aimed, in its own way, to blur the boundaries between opera, symphony and oratorio, and contributed to the quest for the ideal of the “total work of art” so dear to that German composer. La Nuit et l’Amour is a purely symphonic interlude, marked “Andante amoroso molto lento”, which picks up the tender, passionate lines which are only ever spoken: “Love! Inspiration of Fruitful Ecstasy!/Love! Conqueror of conquerors/Who makes the virgin blush at the touch of your wing, […] / Join together lips and hearts!” The lyrical main melody, played first on the cellos, unfurls in a great orchestral crescendo until it reaches the central unison section and its extensive più forte. The influence of the German master can be seen in the way she overlaps phrases, as well as in her style of string writing which is reminiscent of the prelude to Lohengrin. This piece of music was transcribed by the composer herself for solo piano under the title of La Nuit and published in Paris by Léon Grus.
- HOLMÈS, Augusta (1847-1903)
- Genre – L'oratorio
- Genre – The “ode-symphonie”