Tell me the truth about love

Poet:  Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973)

Source:  Cabaret Songs

Date of Composition:  1938 (Jan)

Publication: Cabaret Songs; Faber Music 1980

 Voice Difficulty Level: Moderate

 Subject:  What is love? Tell me.

Range:  A3 – A5

Tessitura:  F#4 – A4  

Tempo: tempo rubato; C

Duration:  05:13

 Vocal Characteristics: Recitative like sections; three repetitive verses; descending chromatic triplet figures; jazzy melody; one very high-lying, wordy phrase could make this a moderately difficult piece;

 Piano Difficulty Level:  Moderate

 Accompaniment Characteristics: Constant swung triplet chords

 Additional Comments: *The only manuscript source (probably dating from the period of composition) for this work is a non-holograph copy, in the key of B flat major. There were subsequent copies of the piece made by Rosamund Strode, possibly in preparation of the publication in 1980 in the higher keys of D flat major and D major, the key of the published version. It is possible that the original key was B flat major, and it was later transposed up for Peter Pears to sing as he occasionally included this song in recitals after Britten's death.

*From the Britten Thematic Catalog

© Nicholas Perna and Mandy Spivak 2013