A Performer's Guide to the Songs of Arthur Honegger (1892-1955).

Cindy Neumayer Dewey, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College


This monograph describes the interpretive and performance problems posed by Honegger's 48 melodies. Written over a thirty-year period, this repertoire constitutes a major contribution to the genre, and as such stands alongside better known works of Milhaud and Poulenc. Although a wealth of performance material is currently available, Honegger's melodies raise a variety of issues, ranging from details of pronunciation and translation to wider problems of interpretation: why did he choose the texts he did; how did he set these texts; what is the relationship between the form of the music and the form of text; and how does the music enhance poetic images. The study has four chapters. The first chapter surveys the four main phases in Honegger's career, the place of melodies within these phases, and Honegger's general approach to song composition. Once the background has been sketched, Chapter 2 deals with melodies written during the first phase of Honegger's career (1914-1920). Next, Chapter 3 discusses melodies from the 1920s, when Honegger's career took off. Finally, Chapter 4 examines Honegger's late melodies; and it shows how he consolidated his compositional style in the 1940s. The paper concludes with three appendixes: a song catalog, which gives place and date of publication, information about dedications and first performances, as well as ranges, tessituras, and moods; translations of the song texts, which provide exact, word-by-word equivalents; a phonetic transcription of the song texts, which details the appropriate pronunciation.