June 18, 2009


Originally a setting for voice, violin and piano of Baudelaire's poem. As such it was awarded a minor prize at the Annapolis Fine Arts Festival Composition Competition, back in IIRC) 1968 or '69. Here it is arranged for wind ensemble.

MP3 File

Correspondances (1857)

Charles Baudelaire (1821—1867)

La nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Il est des parfums frais comme de chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
—Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

translation by Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

Nature is a temple of live pillars
murmuring from time to time confusing words.
Humans wander this symbolic forest
Which regards them with familiar glances.

Like long echoes confounding in the distance
in a unity as shadowed as profound,
vast as night and the dawning of the light,
aromas, colors, sounds resound, respond.

There are some perfumes fresh as infants’ flesh,
sweet as oboes’ song, or prairies’ green —
but others, rich, corrupted and triumphant,

with the wideness of an infinite expanse:
like ambergris, balsam, musk and frankincense,
which sing the transports of intellect and sense.


Mark Friesland said...

This beautiful poem makes me think of the Canticle "Benedicite Omnia Opera Domini." I haven't heard that sublime canticle sung during a church service (it was at a service of Morning Prayer) since around 1982. I miss that...

Göran Koch-Swahne said...


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

It would be interesting to hear the trio version as well, hautbois being mentioned in the poem ;=)

Paul said...

How very cool! Thank you, Tobias. As the screen was refreshing and I just saw the title and the graphic I silently recited to myself the first two lines of the poem. It caught my attention when I was probably taking my second year of French.

Nice to see my assumption that this was where you were headed was correct.

I would also like to hear the other version.

June Butler said...

Art, music, and poetry in a lovely combination. What a fine Friday treat. Merci, cher Tobias.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks all. I wish I had a recording of the other version. I have no tape from that time... and I was looking for the sheet music today and may have misplaced that too! (Though it has to be around somewhere. In the lead up to General Convention my office is becoming a mass of paperwork,,,)

Mimi, toujours avec plaisir!

Mike in Texas said...

How very beautiful, Tobias.

susan s. said...

Well, Tobias, when you have a little time(yeah, I know) you will just have to re-member the trio!

Lovely stuff, again!

Lynn said...

Tobias, what a lovely and interesting piece of music. I haven't listened to a woodwind trio in years. The music does justice to the poetry.

Thank you, this was perfect for a Sunday evening (a little late, but perfect timing for me!)