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The Songs of Fanny Hensel$
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Stephen Rodgers

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780190919566

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190919566.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 29 January 2022

“In this elusive language”

“In this elusive language”

A Byron Song by Fanny Hensel

(p.93) 6 “In this elusive language”
The Songs of Fanny Hensel

Susan Youens

Oxford University Press

That composers of vocal music respond to verbal sound and rhythm has become a matter of analysis both by literary and musical scholars. Perhaps influenced by Goethe’s admiration for the brief comet that was Byron, Fanny Hensel studied his poetry in order to improve her English; in early 1837, she set three of his poems to music in English. She could not, she told her brother in 1834, quite understand the sense of the poetry but was captivated by the sounds and rhythms. Here, I consider both Byron’s word-music and his treatment of rhythm in the first song, “There be none of Beauty’s daughters,” and Hensel’s musical responses to his subtleties. I also discuss other features of this song, including a possible reference to Mozart’s “Voi che sapete,” and speculate that she might have read Wilhelm Müller’s biography of Byron in her quest for further information about him.

Keywords:   Lord Byron, Fanny Hensel, song, Wilhelm Müller, Goethe, John Edleston, Clair Clairmont, meter, poetry, rhythm

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