RC 98* Sérénade (“Comme la voix d’un mort”)

  • Verlaine, Paul
  • solo voice and piano
  • July 20, 1909

The day after completing his song on a text by Verlaine Puisque l’aube grandit (Since Dawn Awoke, RC 97) on 19 July 1909, Diepenbrock made a start with a setting of Sérénade – also by Verlaine – on p. 44 of sketchbook C-10. This macabrely-worded love poem is from the collection Poèmes saturniens (Saturnian Poems), which Diepenbrock had received from his friend W.G. Hondius van den Broek on 19 June 1908 together with eight other Verlaine editions. We do not know how far Diepenbrock got with his composition, as he has cut out the next four pages. Curiously, on p. 13 of this same music book, among sketches of pieces Diepenbrock was working on in the spring of 1909, there are six measures in which the voice sings two lines of the last strophe:

Ouvre ton âme et ton oreille au son
De ma mandoline:
Pour toi j’ai fait, pour toi, cette chanson
Cruelle et câline.

Open your soul and hear the sound
Of my mandoline:
For you I wrote this song, for you, I found
This cruel, tender thing.

This uncompleted song is not mentioned in Diepenbrock’s letters at all. As far as we know he never said anything about the poem either.

Ton Braas