Karola Pavone Boris Radulovic

Eros & Psyche

21 October 2023, 4:15pm - 5:15pm

Please click here to download the Texts & Translations for this event, and scroll down to read programme notes by Karola Pavone.

Presented in association with the International Lied Festival Zeist

The Music After Goethe and Schiller, the poet set most often by Schubert was his close friend Johann Mayrhofer. Some of the greatest songs that Mayrhofer’s poems inspired were on themes from Greek mythology. Today, these songs are heard alongside more recent settings of ancient Greek texts: Sappho set to music by Jean Coulthard, and Theocritus set by Dimitri Terzakis.

The Artists We welcome this prizewinning duo under the auspices of our partner festival in the Netherlands. The German-Italian soprano Karola Pavone and Serbian pianist Boris Radulović are a dedicated song duo who are already performing around Europe, to outstanding reviews.

Festival passes are the best way to experience the Festival. Save over 25% compared to buying individual tickets, and get access to more than 60 events (some venues have limited capacity so are excluded). Scroll down to book, or for more information click here.

  • Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
  • Memnon (1817) D541
Notes on the Programme

Eros & Psyche…? The mythical love story of demi-god Eros and beautiful young Psyche may have been our first inspiration for this programme, drawing a line from ancient Greek mythology to 2023. But what is the true meaning behind these names, apart from being famous lovers from Ovid's Metamorphes? Eros & Psyche, body and soul, sense and sensitivity, flesh and spirit, instinct and rationality - without exception, the stories in and around our songs oscillate between these poles. The immortal union of poetry and music mirrors one of the (very few!) happy marriages in the mythological world. Friedrich Schiller's longing for a world long gone, the 'Blüthenalter der Natur' or 'flowering age of Nature“ as described in the poem The Gods of Greece (Die Götter Griechenlands), meets Mayrhofer's unfulfilled and unfulfillable yearning for a free life. Jean Coulthard sets a monument to Endymion's ancient world. Finally, Dimitri Terzakis pays homage to the melodics of bucolic love poetry.

Obviously, the keynotes of this programme are nostalgic and retrospective, rather than 'in the moment'. Idealised memories meet idealistic projections of a better tomorrow, if only through the relief and resolution in death. The retrospection is most obvious in Terzakis' tonal systems: archaic melodies, disguised as contemporary music, dance with, and around, each other until finally culminating in unexpectedly intimate tête-à-têtes. By the same token, Jean Coulthard (a student of Ralph Vaughan Williams in London) evokes seemingly old-fashioned harmonies and atmospheres in her Ancient memories of Greece (1983). In a somewhat sentimental, yet timelessly floating style, Schubert sets two poems by Karoline von Klencke and Helmina von Chézy. Both were descendants (daughter and granddaughter) of the so-called 'German Sappho' Anna Louisa Karsch. Together with the original Sapphos poem, set by Jean Coulthard, they shed a bright feminine light on the chiaroscuro of love, longing, lust and desires. Schubert's close friendship with Johann Mayrhofer was a significant inspiration for his oeuvre: each individual setting by Mayrhofer is a masterpiece of empathy and evidence of a connection between two humans and artists who understood and complemented each other in sympathy and affection.

Finally, Mayrhofer's Memnon, Theocritus' Muses, Anacreon's Lyre and Sappho's Gifts of Love centre on the expression of art itself - and the existential conditio humana of the artist. Here, we ourselves still search for our place, between 'Eros & Psyche'. Halfway between belly and brain lies the heart, our main instrument, which, pacifist by nature, 'brings forth only sounds of love'.

Thank you and enjoy the performance! 

© Karola Pavone (with thanks to Dr. Jörn Weingärtner)

Website banner with text

13 October 2023 | 11:00am

Art:Song - Images, Words, Music

Previous Event
Schubert in 1823: The Refiner's Fire
21 October 2023, 11:30am - 3:00pm
Next Event
Dancing Song
21 October 2023, 6:45pm - 7:15pm

Help us with a Donation

We rely on the generosity of our supporters to help us continue to bring song to Oxford. Please consider making a donation today.

Make a Donation

Select Tickets