Love Songs (1982)
for soprano and percussion ensemble


at dawn...

This hill-built hall...

Where shall we...?

I'll dig...

The fours songs of Love Songs for soprano and percussion ensemble (1982) was written as a result in the composer's interest in A Gold Orchid, a rare collection of classical Chinese erotic and love poetry. Chinese erotic poetry was at one time thought to be nonexistent, simply because it was considered unfit to translate from the imperial anthologies, This translation of poems of Tzu Yeh, a 4th-century wine shop girl, exposes a world the emperors may not have cared to record for posterity.

These beautiful and original poems are made available to Western readers in a translation that fuses the imagery of age-old China with a supple, lively modern idiom.

“The poetess Tzu Yeh, whose name means “Midnight”, is believed by many Chinese commentators to have been the originator of the romantic lyric. About one hundred and twenty-five of her poems have survived, but of their author we know nothing except that she lived in the Chin Dynasty (A.D. 265-419) and that “she created a type of song with a mournful refrain.’” -from A Garden of Peonies by Henry H. Hart

© John Steffa, 2019