Lessons from Mahler, haibun by Joanne Corey (WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG Series)

A spectacular poem by Joanne Corey. A beautiful story. I love this!

Silver Birch Press

Janet Baker
Lessons from Mahler
by Joanne Corey

In Sage Hall 5 at Smith, spring 1980, our music theory professor places the needle on the final band of the album of Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder. The voice of mezzosoprano Janet Baker emerges from the orchestra:

Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen…
I am lost to the world…

She weaves her way among the delicately orchestrated lines, answers the English horn, sings of how the world may think she is dead because she has set aside its tumult to rest in a quiet place. In serenity:

Ich leb’ allein in meinem Himmel,
In meinem Lieben, in meinem Lied.
I live alone in my heaven,
in my love, in my song.

As the English horn resolves a suspension at the final cadence, I look up from my score to see our professor weeping.

Analysis of
chromatic chords failed that day.
Tears taught me Mahler.

Thirty-five years…

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