Music: Noble Music

0 what must it have cost the angels

not suddenly to burst into song, as one

bursts into tears,

since indeed they knew: on this night

the mother is being

born to the boy, the One, who shall

soon appear.*

When Composer Paul Hindemith came on such lines as these from the 15 poems of German Poet Rainer Maria Rilke's The Life of the Virgin Mary (Das Marienleben), he determined to set them to song. But the first performance of Marienleben, 25 years ago, was not, even Hindemith admitted, "a sensational success." Jagged with octave jumps,...

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