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Premiere: Feminist Song Cycle by Dr. Sara Graef

November 21, 2019


Professor of Music in Theory and Composition Dr. Sara Graef’s new song cycle, A Woman's Life (and Love), premiered Saturday, October 5, at Oakland University by mezzo-soprano Alta Marie Boover as a companion piece to Robert Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben.



About the piece:
A Woman’s Life (and Love) was commissioned by Alta Marie Boover as a companion piece to Robert Schumann’s 1830 song cycle, Frauen-libe und Leben, or “A Woman’s Love and Life.” Schumann’s cycle is a setting of Adelbert von Chamisso’s poems that describe a woman’s love for a man as she passes through all the stages from first setting eyes upon him until his death.

The new cycle address various stages of the life of a woman, filtered through the lens of 21st century feminism and in the shadow of the #metoo movement. While, ironically, the so-titled “A Woman’s Love and Life” never addresses issues of the woman’s life as detached from her husband, the new cycle, “A Woman’s Life (and Love),” virtually never addresses romantic love, but, rather, navigates the labyrinth of womanhood in modern society, motherhood, and even her own death.

The texts have been gathered from many sources, including the poetry of Morgan Parker, Melissa Stein, and Taije Silverman, but also from the Twittosphere and from the 45th president of the United States. The cycle is organized into eight songs, tenuously mirroring the structure of Schumann’s eight, but traverses a landscape that ranges from absurd to caustic to transcendent.