Recitative and Aria for Orchestra

By Barbara Harbach

I. Recitative
II. Aria – Our Love Forever new

Published: 2017
Catalogue Number: H966
I. Recitative - Soliloquy Excerpt from Recitative and Aria for Orchestra
II. Aria - Our Love Forever New Excerpt from Recitative and Aria for Orchestra
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H966 Full Score $49.00
H966B Score and Parts $99.00

Recitative and Aria for Orchestra (2017) are two movements inspired by the life of Edwin Booth (1833-1893), perhaps the greatest American actor, and the greatest Prince Hamlet of the 19th century.  As an actor, Booth toured throughout the United States as well as Europe.  He was also the older brother of John Wilkes Booth who assassinated President Lincoln, and Edwin carried that stigma with him for the rest of his life.  Recitative is a complex organism of varying moods, meter, tempi, instrumentation, and themes – like a soliloquy where one might rant, repeat, and contradict oneself in a stream of consciousness.  The horn (often doubled with the trombone) is prominent throughout as Edwin’s voice.  For Edwin might have thought, “For here’s the horrifying truth:  That Booth is Hamlet, Hamlet Booth.”

Another tragedy in Edwin’s life was the loss of his wife after only three years of marriage, when he was too inebriated to read the telegrams telling him of her failing health.  In II. Aria – Our love Forever New, Edwin dreams of a time when they can be reunited, in the flowing stream of time, with our hearts forever young, our love forever new.  After the introduction, again using the horn as Edwin’s voice, the oboe and bassoon begin the first theme, capturing the nostalgic and wistful mood.  Several themes, often using the full orchestra, create a lush and provocative fabric.  Closing quietly, the horn again asserts, “I will always love you,” and Mary responds, “Our love forever new.”