Liederabend LVII: Exilers - Composers and Poets Set Adrift

NEC: Williams Hall | Directions

290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

From Benjamin Britten’s New York song cycles, to the poems of Luis Cernuda and Marina Tsvetaeva, to the many Austrian and German composers who fled their homelands in the twentieth century, this concert celebrates the resilience of the creative spirit in the face of dislocation and upheaval. We honor the many ways artists have channelled the violence of their immediate circumstances into works of profound beauty and transformation.


This Liederabend performance is connected to NEC's Song Lab, a new model of training for singers and pianists based around the performance and study of art song. This fall, Song Lab focuses on French poetry and song, including the history and culture surrounding it. All of the Liederabend offerings this fall will contain some French song repertoire, performed as an extension of this area of study. 

This performance is open to in-person audiences, and can also be viewed below via livestream.


  1. LOST IN NEW YORK: Benjamin Britten

    from Les illuminations, op. 18
         I. Fanfare
         II. Villes
         IV. Royauté
         IX. Départ



    J’ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage.


    Ce sont des villes! C’est un peuple pour qui se
    sont montés ces Alleghanys et ces Libans de
    [Ce sont des villes!] Des chalets de cristal
    et de
    bois se meuvent sur des rails et des poulies
    invisibles. Les vieux cratères ceints de colosses
    de palmiers de cuivre rugissent
    dans les feux. [––]

    [Ce sont des villes!] Des cortèges de Mabs en
    rousses, opalines, montent des ravines.
    Là-haut, les
    pieds dans la cascade et les ronces,
    les cerfs tettent
    Diane. Les Bacchantes des
    banlieues sanglotent et la
    lune brûle et hurle.
    Vénus entre dans les cavernes des
    forgerons et
    des ermites. [Ce sont des ––]
    groupes de beffrois chantent les idées des
    Des châteaux bâtis en os sort la musique

    [Ce sont des villes! Ce sont des villes!]

    Le paradis des orages s’effondre. Les sauvages
    dansent sans cesse la fête de la nuit. [Ce sont desvilles!]

    Quels bons bras, quelle belle heure me rendront
    région d’où viennent mes sommeils et mes


    Un beau matin, chez un peuple fort doux, un
    et une femme superbes criaient sur la
    place publique:
    "Mes amis, je veux qu’elle soit
    reine!" "Je veux être
    reine!" Elle riait et
    tremblait. Il parlait aux amis de
    d’épreuve terminée. Ils se pâmaient l’un

    contre l’autre.
    En effet ils furent rois toute une matinée où les

    tentures carminées se relevèrent sur les
    maisons, et
    tout l’après-midi, où ils s’avancèrent
    du côté des
    jardins de palmes. 


    Assez vu. La vision s’est rencontrée à tous les
    Assez eu. Rumeurs des Villes, le soir, et au
    soleil, et
    toujours. Assez connu. Les arrêts de la

    O Rumeurs et Visions! Départ dans l’affection
    le bruit neufs!

    Arthur Rimbaud (1854–1891)


    I alone have the key to this savage parade.


    These are cities! This is a people for who arose
    Alleghenies and Lebanons from dreams! [These arecities!] Chalets of crystal and wood move on invisiblerails and pulleys. Old craters encircled by colossusesand copper palm-trees, roar melodiously in the fires.[––]

    [These are cities!] Processions of Mabs in russet,opaline gowns climb the ravines.
    Farther up, with their
    feet in the waterfall and the brambles, stags suckle Diana.The Bacchantes of the suburbs sob, and the moonburns and howls. Venus enters into the caverns ofblacksmiths and hermits. [These are ––]
    Groups of
    belfries sing the ideas of the people. Unknown musicpours forth from castles built of bone.

    [These are cities! These are cities!]

    The paradise of storms collapses. Savages
    ceaselessly dance out the festival of the night. [These are
    What lovely arms, what beautiful hour will give me back
    that region from where my sleep and my slightestmovements come?


    One beautiful morning, in the land of a very
    people, a superb man and woman cried
    out in the public
    square, "Friends, I want her to
    be queen!" "I want to be
    queen!" She laughed
    and trembled. He spoke to his
    friends of revelation, of hard trials finished. They
    swooned, one against the other.
    In effect, they were kings for a whole morning as crimson
    hangings were raised on the houses,
    and all afternoon as
    they advanced towards the gardens of palms. 


    Enough seen. The vision has been encountered under allskies. Enough had. Sounds of cities, at evening, in thesun, and always. Enough known. The stopping of life.––
    Oh Sounds and Visions! Departure into new affectionand noise.

    Translations by Julia Bullock, 2020

    • Jack Keller, tenor
    • Su-Jin Choi, piano
  2. LOST IN CALIFORNIA | Alma Mahler, Hans Eisler, Erich Korngold

    Alma Mahler | Bei dir ist es traut


    Bei dir ist es traut

    Bei dir ist es traut:

    Zage Uhren schlagen
    Wie aus weiten Tagen.
    Komm mir ein Liebes sagen -
    Aber nur nicht laut.
    Ein Tor geht irgendwo
    Draussen im Blütentreiben.
    Der Abend horcht an den Scheiben.
    Lass uns leise bleiben:
    Keiner weiss uns so.

    Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)


    I feel warm and close with you

    I feel warm and close with you:

    Clocks strike hesitantly,
    Like they did in distant days.
    Say something loving to me -
    But not aloud.
    A gate opens somewhere
    Out in the burgeoning.
    Evening listens at the windowpanes.
    Let us stay quiet,
    No one knows us thus. 

    Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder, published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (


    Hans Eisler | from Hollywood Liederbuch
         Unter den grünen Pfefferbäumen
         Die Stadt ist nach den Engeln genannt
         Hollywood (Diese Stadt hat mich belehrt)
         In den Hügeln wird Gold gefunden   


    Unter den grünen Pfefferbäumen

    Unter den grünen Pfefferbäumen

    Gehn die Musiker auf den Strich,
    Zwei und zwei mit den Schreibern.
    Bach hat ein Strichquartett im Täschchen,

    Dante schwenkt den dürren Hintern.

    Die Stadt ist nach den Engeln genannt

    Die Stadt ist nach den Engeln genannt
    Und man begegnet allenthalben Engeln.
    Sie riechen nach Öl und tragen goldene Pessare,
    Und mit blauen Ringen um die Augen füttern sie
    Allmorgentlich die Schreiber in ihren         Schwimmpfühlen.


    Diese Stadt hat mich belehrt,
    Paradies und Hölle können eine Stadt sein.
    Für die Mittellosen
    Ist das Paradies die Hölle.

    In den Hügeln wird Gold gefunden

    In den Hügeln wird Gold gefunden
    An der Küste findet man Öl.
    Größere Vermögen
    Bringen die Träume vom Glück
    Die man hier auf Zelluloid schreibt.

    Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)

    Beneath the green pepper trees

    Beneath the green pepper trees

    The musicians are on the prowl,
    Two by two with the writers.
    Bach has a strumpet quartet in his pocket.

    Dante wiggles his withered bottom.

    The city is named after the angels

    The city is named after the angels,
    And one meets angels everywhere.
    They smell of oil and wear golden pessaries
    And, with blue rings around their eyes,
    Feed the writers in their swimming pools every     morning.


    This city has taught me that
    Paradise and hell are the same city.
    For the unsuccessful,
    Paradise is hell.

    In the hills are the gold prospectors

    In the hills are the gold prospectors
    By the sea you come upon oil.z
    Greater fortunes far

    Are won from those dreams of happiness
    Which are kept on celluloid spools.

    Translations adapted from those by John Willett (Hampsong Foundation)


    Erich Korngold | Glückwunsch



    Ich wünsche dir Glück.

    Ich bring dir die Sonne in meinem Blick.
    Ich fühle dein Herz in meiner Brust;
    Es wünscht dir mehr als eitel Lust.
    Es fühlt und wünscht: die Sonne scheint,
    Auch wenn dein Blick zu brechen meint.
    Es wünscht dir Blicke so sehnsuchtslos,
    Als trügest du die Welt im Schoß.
    Es wünscht dir Blicke so voll Begehren,
    Als sei die Erde neu zu gebären.
    Es wünscht dir Blicke voll der Kraft,
    Die aus Winter sich Frühling schafft.
    Und täglich leuchte durch dein Haus
    Aller Liebe Blumenstrauß!

    Richard Dehmel (1863-1920)


    I wish you happiness.

    I bring you the sun in my gaze.
    I feel your heartbeat in my breast;
    It wishes you more than mere pleasure.
    It feels and hopes; the sun shines,
    Even when your eyes think to close in death.
    It wishes your eyes to be as free of yearning,
    As if you carried the world in your womb.
    It wishes your eyes to be as full of desire,
    As if the earth were to be born again.
    It wishes your eyes to be full of the strength
    That fashions spring from winter.
    And may your home be daily lit
    By the gleaming bouquet of love!  

    Translation © Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder, published by Faber, provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (

    • Caroline Nielson, mezzo-soprano
    • Jamie Lorusso, piano
  3. LOST IN CALIFORNIA | Darius Milhaud

    from Chansons de Ronsard, op. 223
         À une fontaine
         À Cupidon
         Dieu vous gard'


    À une fontaine

    Écoute moi, fontaine vive,

    En qui j'ai rebu si souvent,
    Couché tout plat dessus ta rive,
    Oisif à la fraîcheur du vent,

    Quand l'été ménager moissonne
    Le sein de Cérès dévêtu,
    Et l'aire par compas résonne
    Gémissant sous le blé battu.

    Ainsi toujours puisses-tu être
    En religion à tous ceux
    Quite boiront ou fairont paître
    Tes verts rivages à leurs bœufs.

    Ainsi toujours la lune claire
    Voie à minuit au fond d'un val
    Les Nymphes près de ton repaire

    À mille bonds mener le bal!

    À Cupidon

    Le jour pousse la nuit
    Et la nuit sombre
    Pousse le jour luit
    D’une obscure ombre.

    L’Automne suit l’Été
    Et l’âpre rage
    Des vents n’a point été
    Apres l’orage.

    Mais la fièvre d'amours
    Qui me tourmente
    Demeure en moi toujours
    Et ne s'alente.

    Ce n'était pas moi, Dieu,
    Qu'il fallait poindre;
    Ta flèche en d'autre lieu
    Se devait joindre.

    Poursuis les paresseux
    Et les amuse,
    Mais non pas moi, ni ceux
    Qu'aime la Muse...

    Dieu vous gard’

    Dieu vous gard', messagers fidèles
    Du Printemps, gentes hirondelles,
    Huppes, coucous, rossignolets,
    Tourtres, et vous oiseaux sauvages
    Qui de cent sortes de ramages
    Animez les bois verdelets.

    Dieu vous gard', belles pâquerettes,
    Belles roses, belles fleurettes,
    Et vous boutons jadis connus
    Du sang d'Ajax et de Narcisse,
    Et vous thym, anis et mélisse,
    Vous soyez les bien revenus.

    Dieu vous gard', troupe diaprée
    Des papillons, qui par la prée
    Les douces herbes suçotez;
    Et vous, nouvel essaim d'abeilles,
    Qui les fleurs jaunes et vermeilles
    De votre bouche baisotez.

    Cent mille fois je resalue
    Votre belle et douce venue.
    Ô que j'aime cette saison
    Et ce doux caquet des rivages,
    Au prix des vents et des orages
    Qui m'enfermaient en la maison!

    Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585)


    To a fountain

    Hearken to me, O spring water,

    Where I’ve so often slaked my thirst,
    Reclining alongside your bank
    Idly in the refreshing breeze,

    While thrifty summer reaps the harvest
    From Ceres’ bared breast,
    And the threshing floor resounds,
    Groaning beneath the flailed corn.

    Thus may you remain forever
    A sacred place for all those
    Who shall drink from you and lead their oxen
    To graze on your green meadows.

    And may the moonlight always
    Glimpse at midnight down in the valley
    The Nymphs around your retreat 

    Leaping as they lead the dance!

    To Cupid

    The day expels the night
    And sombre night
    Expels the day, glimmering
    In dim shadow.

    Autumn follows Summer,
    And the bitter blast
    Of the winds blew not at all,
    The storm once past.

    Yet Love’s feverish ill
    That torments me
    Inhabits me still
    Nor will let be.

    It was not I, O God,
    At whom you should have aimed;
    Your arrow should have sped
    To some other mark.

    Pursue the idle
    And amuse them,
    But not myself, nor those
    Beloved by the Muse… 

    God shield you

    God shield you, faithful messengers
    Of Spring, gentle swallows,
    Hoopoes, cuckoos, nightingales,
    Turtle-doves, and you wild birds,
    Who with your hundred varied words
    Gladden the greening woods.

    God shield you, lovely daisies,
    Lovely roses, lovely flowerets,

    And you buds that once were named
    After the blood of Ajax and Narcissus,
    And you thyme, anise, and balm,
    All be welcome back again.

    God shield you, O spangled flight
    Of butterflies, who flit across the meadow
    Drinking from the sweet grasses;
    And you, new-born swarm of bees
    Who nibble at the yellow
    And vermilion flowers.

    A hundred thousand times your sweet
    And beauteous coming I greet again.
    Oh how I love this season
    And the voices along the river bank,
    More than the winds and storms
    That confined me to my home!

    Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion, (Oxford, 2000) provided courtesy of Oxford

    • Ruoxi Peng, soprano
    • Su-Jin Choi, piano
  4. LOST IN ENGLAND | Carlos Guastavino

    Las nubes
         Jardin antiguo
         Alegría de la Soledad


    Jardin antiguo

    Ir de nuevo al jardín cerrado,

    Que tras los arcos de la tapia,
    Entre magnolios, limoneros
    Guarda el encanto de las aguas.

    Oír de nuevo en el silencio
    Vivo de trinos y de hojas,
    El susurro tibio del aire
    Donde las almas viejas flotan.

    Ver otra vez el cielo hondo
    A lo lejos, la torre esbelta
    Tal flor de luz sobre las palmas:
    Las cosas todas siempre bellas.

    Sentir otra vez, como entonces,
    La espina aguda del deseo,
    Mientras la juventud pasada 

    Vuelve. Sueño de un dios sin tiempo. 



    Por el campo tranquilo de septiembre,

    Del álamo amarillo alguna hoja,
    Como una estrella rota,
    Girando al suelo viene.

    Si así el alma inconsciente,
    Señor de las estrellas y las hojas,
    Fuese, encendida sombra,
    De la vida a la muerte.

    Alegria de la Soledad

    A solas, a solas,
    Camino de la aurora,
    Bajo las nubes cantan,
    Blancas, solas, las aguas;
    Y entre las hojas sueña,
    Verde y sola, la tierra.
    Rubia, sola también, tu alma
    Allá en el pecho ama,
    Mientras las rosas abren,
    Mientras pasan los ángeles,
    Solos en la victoria
    Serena de la gloria.

    Luis Cernuda Bidón (1902-1963)

    Old Garden

    To go again to the closed garden

    That behind the arches of the wall,
    Among the magnolias, the lemon trees,
    Holds the enchantment of the waters.

    To hear again in the silence
    Alive with chirping and the leaves,
    The warm whisper of the wind
    On which old souls are floating.

    To see again the deep sky,
    Far away, the slender tower
    Like a flower of light over the palm trees:
    Everything always beautiful.

    To feel again, like then,
    The sharp thorn of desire,
    As past youthfulness
    Returns. A dream of a god without time.

    Translation © Lorena Paz Nieto.   Text and translation provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (


    Through the quiet field in September,
    Some of the leaves from the yellow poplar,
    Like a broken star,
    Comes to the ground spinning.

    If like this the unconscious soul,
    God of stars and leaves,
    Were, flaming shadows,
    From life to death.

    Joy of Solitude

    Alone, alone,
    A walk from dawn,
    Under the clouds they sing,
    White, alone, the waters;
    And between the leaves,
    Green and alone, the earth dreams.
    Blonde, alone too, your soul
    Over there on the breast it loves,

    While the roses open,
    While the angels pass by,
    Alone in the victorious
    Serene of glory.

    Translations by Josaphat Contreras, 2021

    • Josaphat Contreras, tenor
    • Pei-Hsuan Shen, piano
  5. LOST IN PARIS | Vincent Scotto (arr. Jeremy Siskind) | songs made popular by Josephine Baker

    Dites-nous, Joséphine/J'ai deux amours
    Mon coeur est un oiseau des îles


    Dites-nous, Joséphine/ J’ai deux amours

    Dites-nous, Joséphine

    Puisqu’on te revoit
    Charmante et divine
    Dites-nous, Joséphine
    Quel est cet émoi
    Qu’en toi je devine?
    Quelle joie pour moi de revenir
    Et de retrouver mes souvenirs
    Dites-nous, Joséphine
    Oui, dites-nous pourquoi
    Ton cœur s’illumine
    Dites-nous, Joséphine
    Si comme autrefois
    Paris te fascine
    Vous le voyez bien par mon retour
    La France toujours
    Idéal séjour
    Aura mon amour

    On dit qu'au-delà des mers,
    Là-bas sous le ciel clair,
    Il existe une cité au séjour enchanté.
    Et sous les grands arbres noirs,
    Chaque soir,
    Vers elle s'en va tout mon espoir.

    J'ai deux amours:
    Mon pays et Paris.
    Par eux toujours
    Mon cœur est ravi.

    Manhattan est belle,
    Mais à quoi bon le nier:
    Ce qui m'ensorcelle, c'est Paris,
    Paris tout entier.
    Le voir un jour
    C'est mon rêve joli.
    J'ai deux amours:
    Mon pays et Paris.

    Doo doo doo……..
    Ce qui m'ensorcelle, c'est Paris,
    Paris tout entier.
    Le voir un jour
    C'est mon rêve joli.
    J'ai deux amours:
    Mon pays et Paris.

    Mon coeur est un oiseau des îles

    Mon coeur est un oiseau des îles
    Qui ne chante que pour l’amour
    Dans tes bras il trouve l’asile
    Le nid fragile
    Des plus beaux jours
    Car tout m’enivre
    Quand je t’aperçois
    Ma joie de vivre
    Chéri, c’est toi
    Mon coeur est un oiseau des îles
    Qui ne chante que pour l’amour
    Tu m’as souri gentiment au réveil
    C’est mon soleil
    Tu m’as donné de la joie, de l’espoir
    Jusqu’au soir
    Dee dee dee……..
    Car tout m’enivre

    Quand je t’aperçois
    Ma joie de vivre
    Chéri, c’est toi
    Ah ah ah……
    Mon coeur est un oiseau des îles
    Qui ne chante que pour l’amour
    Oui, c’est l’amour.

    Georges Koger (1894–1975)
    Henri Varna (1887–1969)

    Tell us, Josephine/I have two loves

    Tell us, Josephine

    Since we see you again
    Charming and divine
    Tell us, Josephine
    What is this excitement
    What in you I guess?
    What a joy for me to come back
    And to find my memories
    Tell us, Josephine
    Yes, tell us why
    Your heart lights up
    Tell us, Josephine
    If as in the past
    Paris fascinates you
    You can see it from my return
    France always
    Ideal stay
    Will have my love

    They say beyond the seas,
    There beneath the pale sky,
    There exists a city, an enchanted escape.
    And under the big black trees,
    Each night,
    Towards it go all my hopes.

    I have two loves.
    My country and Paris.
    Always by these two
    My heart is delighted.

    Manhattan is beautiful,
    But what good to deny it:
    What bewitches me, is Paris,
    It's only Paris.
    To see it one day,
    That's my dearest wish.
    I have two loves,
    My country and Paris.

    Doo doo doo…..
    What bewitches me, is Paris,
    It's only Paris.
    To see it one day,
    That's my dearest wish.
    I have two loves,
    My country and Paris.

    My heart is a bird of the islands

    My heart is a bird of the islands
    Who sings only for love
    In your arms he finds asylum
    The fragile nest
    Of the most beautiful days
    'Cause everything gets me drunk
    When I see you
    My joy of life
    Honey, it's you.
    My heart is a bird of the islands
    Who sings only for love
    You smiled kindly at me when I woke up
    It's my sun
    You gave me joy, hope
    Till evening
    Dee dee dee……..
    'Cause everything gets me drunk

    When I see you
    My joy of life
    Honey, it's you.
    Ah ah ah……..
    My heart is a bird of the islands
    Who sings only for love
    Yes, it's love.

    Translations courtesy of

    • Ruoxi Peng, soprano
    • Su-Jin Choi, piano
  6. FOUND | Benjamin Britten

    from The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, op. 35
         Batter my heart
         Since she whom I loved
         Death, be not proud


    Batter my heart

    Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you
    As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
    That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
    Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.

    I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
    Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
    Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend
    But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.

    Yet dearely I love you, and would be loved faine,
    But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
    Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe,

    Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
    Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish mee.

    Since she whom I loved

    Since she whom I lov'd hath pay'd her last debt
    To Nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,
    And her Soule early into Heaven ravished,
    Wholly on heavenly things my mind is sett.
    Here the admyring her my mind did whett
    To seeke thee God; so streams do shew their head;
    But though I have found thee and thou my thirst hast fed,
    A holy thirsty dropsy melts mee yett,
    But why should I begg more love, when as thou
    Dost wooe my soul for hers: off'ring all thine:
    And dost not only feare lest I allow
    My love to Saints and Angels, things divine,
    But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt
    Lest the world, Fleshe, yea, Devill putt thee out.

    Death, be not proud

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for thou art not soe,
    For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
    From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure; then from thee, much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee do goe,
    Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
    Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings and desperate men,
    And dost with poyson, warre, and sickness dwell,
    And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well
    And better than thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
    One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

    John Donne (1572-1631)

    • Anthony León, tenor
    • Kyunga Lee, piano