Saturday, 28 May 2011


Yesterday evening it was humbling to be present in the audience in the Mozart Saal of Vienna's Konzerhaus and to witness another superb performance by British tenor Ian Bostridge, a regular visitor, - this time accompanied by Helmut Deutsch on the Klavier.

As well as works by Gustav Mahler the programme included the Walt Whitman / Kurt Weill songs: Beat! Beat! Drums!, Oh Captain! My Captain!, and Dirge for Two Veterans, and from the Benjamin Britten / William Soutar series Who are these children? the songs: Nightmare, Slaughter, Who are these children? and The children.

I must congratulate Ian Bostridge on his choice of material and interpretation.

It was a programme for our present time, this sad twenty-first century when the slaughter of the innocents continues unabated, war upon war, battle upon battle, and weapon's grade depleted uranium is blown around every theatre like sand and phosphorous is dropped on cities like New Year's Eve starbursts . . . with tragic consequences for the children, for those as yet unborn, and those never to be born . . . and the War Inc. factions ever rumble on.


Within the violence of the storm
The wise men are made dumb:
Young bones are hollowed by the worm;
The babe dies in the womb.

Above the lover's mouth is pressed
The silence of a stone:
Fate rides upon an iron beast
And tramples cities down.

And shall the multitudinous grave
Our enmity inter;
These dungeons of misrule enslave
Our bitterness and fear?

All are the conquered; and in vain
The laurel binds the brow:
The phantoms of the dead remain
And from our faces show.

William Soutar


  1. thanks for that Gwilym - I never really read any of Soutar's english work .it is tremendous how a life spent bedridden, with only a view of the world through the window can feel so close to everything and everybody as to grieve for its demise so powerfully and eloquently

  2. I find Mahler's music almost unbearably sad to listen to Gwilym. I find that poem in similar mode. I read of the most terrible things happening almost every day in so many parts of the world - nothing gets better, does it.

  3. John,
    Remarkable what the human spirit can overcome.

  4. Pat, re "nothing gets better" - the more things change the more they stay the same seems to be the universal rule...although I have some HOPE, you see now that the ISS is finally completed after 12 years construction - perhaps it and other amazing things such as the Hubble Telescope and the Internet will bring humankind together? Interesting to see that Mubarack has been fined $600 million for closing down the internet in Egypt!


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