The four Cabaret Songs, composed between 1937 and 1939 but not published until 1980, were written for Hedli Anderson (later wife of the poet Louis MacNeice), a singer specialising in the performance of high quality 'light music'. They include a setting the well-known Auden poem 'Tell me the truth about love', together with 'Funeral Blues', 'Johnny' and 'Calypso'. Hedli Anderson had taken the part of The Singer in The Ascent of F6, an Auden-Isherwood theatre piece for which Britten had written the incidental music in 1937, including the original version of 'Funeral Blues'. These are lively and witty settings, clearly influenced by the popular hit songs of the day while the onomatopoeic train noises of 'Calypso' clearly point forward to 'Midnight on the Great Western' from the Thomas Hardy cycle Winter Words of 1953.
Audio extracts courtesy of Onyx Classics. Caryl Hughes (mezzo-soprano); Malcolm Martineau (piano) (2010).
You can browse Britten’s Song Catalogue in three different ways. If you know a key word or title from any song cycle, movement or individual song then use the Search too. If you are looking for a range of songs that fit your specific requirements then use the Refine tool where you can select from a number of options. If you just want to view what songs are available within different categories then use the Explore tool.
Which ever way you choose, we hope you find what you’re looking for.