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BENJAMIN BRITTEN AND W.H. AUDEN Cabaret Songs for voice and piano Faber Music Limited London Ac the beginning of 1937 Britten was busy composing the incidental music for The Ascent of F6, the famous play by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. It was first performed by the Group Theatre, at the Mercury Theatre, London, on 26th February 1937, One of the most striking musical numbers was a Blues (in Act Il, scene v), a setting of Auden’s text ‘Stop all the clocks’. Hedli Anderson, the singer, who was later to become the wife of Louis MacNeice, was a member of the original cast. She made a very considerable impression in the Blues, perhaps not least on the composer and his colleagucs. Later in 1937, in June, when Britten was visiting Auden at Colwall (near Malvern), where the poet was teaching at a prep school, he not only wrote a “new version’ of the F6 Blues ~ almost certainly the solo version that is, published here: Hedli Anderson, too, was at Colwall on this occasion and the song was tried out on the boys with great success — but also busied himself with what he described as ‘cabaret songs’, though not naming them individually, as he did in the case of ‘Stop all the clocks’ We know in fact, from Britten’s 1937 diary, that ‘Johnny’ had already bbeen composed on Sth May; that another cabaret song was sketched the next day; another on the 7th; and yet another on the 8th. It was only ‘Johnny’, however, that was named. (On the 10th Britten went through the songs with Hedli Anderson and her accompanist ~ ‘they are going to be hits, I feel!” wrote the composer in his diary. The successive entries would seem to indicate that atleast five cabaret, songs should exist from this time, including, that is, the ‘new version’ of the F6 Blues, but excluding ‘Tell me the truth about love’ and ‘Calypso’, the first of which belongs to early January 1938 and the second to 1939 ~ the poem belongs to May or carly June, by which time both the poct and composer were in North America, Britten in Canada, Auden in the States hence the geography of ‘Calypso’). So it seems there are still some cabaret songs to be discovered, among them one entitled ‘I'm a jam tart’ ‘Whatever the total turns out to be, the four collected together here are splendid examples of the genre. They not only provide ample evidence of the composer's and poet's wit and high spirits, but are also wholly characteristic of a particular kind of vernacular music that resulted from the collaboration between two brilliantly endowed young men in the thirties ‘They were also partners in another kind of music, of course. It is important to remember that Britten's settings of Auden’s poems, On this Island, belong to precisely this same period. The two contrasting styles mirror the world and the times in and through which they moved. The songs of course carry no dedication. But as this note makes clear, they were written for ~ indeed, inspired by ~ Hedli Anderson (1907-1990); and 1 am sure both the composer and the poet would have wanted her name to hhave been associated with the songs in their published form, For two of the songs we have included metronome marks as an indication of the composer's tempi. These are based on informal recorded perform= ances by Britten and Peter Pears in the possession of The Britten-Pears Library at Aldeburgh Donato Mircueut ‘W. H. AUDEN (1907-1975) ‘Tempo rubato CABARET SONGS 1. Tell me the truth about love BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1915-1976) far 1. Some 4 say that Loves a lit - tle boy And some say it's a__ bird, Some looked in - side the sum-mer- house, It was - nt e - ver there, Ive feelings when you mect it, I | Am told you cant for- get, We |g cotta voce iia F lhe iz — A + Te 2 © SS SS SS SS Se ee say it makes the world go round And some say thats ab - surd: But tried the Thames at Mai- den-head And Bright-onls bra-cing air; I sought it since I was a child But have- nt found it yet; I'm $- = (Ore = = = ie tPF ae fa —z a = — bey #2 He == = © 1980 by Faber Music Ltd. ete & & ——s Ee ee a § = ——-¥ 7 when I asked the man next door Who looked as if he knew, His dont know what the black-bird sang Or what the ro- ses said, But it get-ting on for thir - ty- five, And still I do not know What a = e cd | I: iz Wa o ve - ry cross in- deed And said it would- rit the chick-en run Or un - der-neath the be That bo thers peo - ple # wife was was- nt in Kind of crea-ture it can (J= 58) (Very much 8) 7 pair. — of py sor - din ry come______ with - out = -_ fa - warn tell me mas_ Or the ces, Is it ing the truth a - bout ham in a temprance ho - u-sual-ty sick on a Just as Tm pick-ing my aa ome ia = 25 = = z Sj ae 23 3 fluff, Is. it sharpor quite smooth at the ed - ges? -nough,——— Are its sto. - ries vul- gar but fun - ny? bluff, Wint_it al-ter my life al - to - iy —— = I 3 tell me the truth a-bout love. © tell me the truth a- bout love. Ci EP 5 3 CR ER freely _y _——_—_—_—___—a— tell me the truth a- bout love, pala ed ed a bee Ss II —— © tell me thetruth a-bout love, tell me the truth a- bout love. Poe e 2. Funeral blues the clocks, the tel-'e- phone, Pre-vent the dog from bark-ing witha juic-y bone, the pia - and with muffled dram Bring out f Jet the mourn - ers come. o b tes: beg t = Pk eee ae C with $a, : ———— $b 6 — 5 ce oe Se See — oe bee € Serib- bling on the sky the mes - sage He Is Dead, Tie a Ml Ny _ and my John Be- side the deep ri - ver walk on and on While the a atempo —= 3 o grass. at our feet andthe birds Whis-pered so soft. in re- 413 a pro-callove, AndI feaned on hisshoulder, ‘0 John-ny, let's play’: But A a ——— = ey SS = and he went a way. portato oF ht SS SSS SSS sa eve - ning near Christ-mas a I well re- call ‘When we eo Sat \$ = Ihe —$—6— te a = i oh —s + 6 ——— a = floor was so smooth and the (e SS : P (sa 33 3 : 7 ca uffocate) mh, ‘Squeeze me = SSS S55 3 tighter, dear John- ny, let's 15 a a ae he frowned like thun- der and Bhar portato bento: quasi rect ——s— Sk i ier ter eet Shall 1 $4 SS Bs ey-er for-get 3S at the Grand When mu-sic poured out of each won-der-ful star?. Di- amonds and pearls hung Tike 16 oo i = vy down Ov-er each gold and me ‘O John-ny Tm in hea-ven} I whispered to en 2 Se hes ‘Tempo I = is = ee 2 But The frowned likethunder and * A (ie = = — \ ae Re hae portato [pierre tee ae \ Z 4S ——* = Tempo di Valse ——— 47 in flower, As slen-der —and tall as great Eif - fel Tower, Whenthe waltz throbbed out downthe long pro - 4 © his eyes and his smile went straight to my heart; : = 2 4 : Gr He = = mar - ry me, John- ny, Tl love and © - bey’ But 4s ¥ he frowned ike thun - der and he went. a- way. << —. portato v4 last night T dreamed of you, John-ny, my lo- vers Yould the 19 4 Gri SS J SSS SS Se ae Py ey |... ‘Ten thousand miles deep in a Lento abe : zs — + = ep g ee a Th ote =] ossia vit. — £ pitthere I lay: But you went a-way. xt a 7 4 : = #- i Ne ia — # ey = ; = flee =S = 3 ore a 4. Calypso Molto moderato, poco a poco aecelerando molto stace. e He == = (22 ppcrese. molto SS ae SS bp sempre ritmico 4 . [6 Sei SSS aM Driver, drive fae-ter. and make a good run Down the / bis $ DEE 4 (PES Sorte SS SS love = —— = = ort ir Ei tis ae se j eS 2 24 SSS Springfield Line un-der the shin-ing sun Fly like an ae- ro - plane, (ze 7 SSS Ce = = SSS] dont pull up short Till you brake for theGrand Cen - tral (a = a pdolee . & —— ———— —— —— & 2 tH F + e For there inthe mid-dle of sya =8, 9 toe — ths 2 iz “Gi oe + | te - - poco meno p | g {— eS —-~_- = M = oe ae - = mae © 5 : : Tfeonta] * ce. = —_ stace. (97 SI SS that wai - ting hall Shouldbe standing the one that I love best of all. If he's @25- 23 SS SS SSeS © potthere to meet me when I get 10 town, Ti) stand on the pavement with. b z (@ —— SS eS ae road ~~ rd we ea = SS SSS SSS SSS eo — lor S5 -DTrLrCt~—~—~sr—~—~s——~—..__—Cis— 22 el 2 so TI fove to look on, of kind-ness and myhandand he says he = = oe drive fas-ter, _ Driver, piii animato = Driver, drivefas - ter Dri-ver, drive fas-ter, drive fas-ter. os Ae i et = ——S Se 7 on ees =e 7a Goa SS SSS SF sides of the fine; The trees, SS) et rte SSS as = = = . = fo sae oo a 2) SS sun-par - tour car Has no-one t0 love him ex- cept his ci gar. a a re SS ee ee ws 1 7ls fbi] J Bibs ae == — s i : accel. 7 : 7 : 7 7 Dri-ver, drive fas-ter, drive fas-ter, drive fas-ter, drive fas-ter, fas-ter, fas-ter, fas-ter, 7 ‘Pp molto cresc. Pill presto Sf Ee ae — a = faster. For love's more im - port- ant and = : =a inte = fi P == a faster, faster, faster, fas-ter, - accel. # 26 fa, ta, la, Jayla, Ia, la, tay Ja, a, Jala, la, Ja ta, asta P morendo sempre pochitissimo) . - - 7 : A ' : gs so k << OT ae SSS aS Jl Faster, drive fas-ter, drive fas-ter, drive faster, drive fas-ter, fas-ter, faster, fas-ter, c= pmorendot v