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Site Seeing

 The Lied and
 Song Texts Page

Lieder, melodies, English folk songs, even the odd opera libretto…you'll find almost any musical text you want in this ever-swelling treasure trove, a clear labour of love by musician and ICT expert Emily Ezust. To be precise (easy enough, as the homepage wears the statistic with pride) the works of 1329 poets as set by 622 composers are there for plundering in a couple of clicks. The Lied and Song Texts Page - some page! - is a workers' collective of the 'contributions welcome' variety, but it has few of the weaknesses and all the strengths we'd anticipate in such enterprises. No accusations of snobbery, please, if I suggest that the high quality of voluntary input may be down to the type of visitor Ms Ezust must attract to a site whose substance is never bedumbed by irrelevant colour and movement. (Elitism? I'd say!) Why, I even found a text that had been e-mailed in by Ted Perry at Hyperion Records. Not a bad advert for a homespun resource.

With support from Robert Ellis Crawford's REC Music Foundation, the Ottawa-based Ms Ezust has created one of the most clearly-designed, no-frills sites on the web for ease of access and cross-reference. A plain-Jane of a site it may be - almost monastic in the severity of its design - but despite (or maybe because of) this it's a model of user-friendliness. It's nigh impossible to get lost or even take a wrong turning, which is just as well amid such a welter of material.

Of course, the sheer scale of The Lied and Song Texts Page mitigates against consistency and quality control; yet I've only spotted a small number of typos, mostly involving accents in French texts, although I guess that someone with broader linguistic skills than mine might well find a few more. A bigger drawback for most users will be having to take pot-luck over translations. You might find a dual text if you're lucky, e.g. for Wagner's Wesendonk Lieder, but you're more likely to find that just where you most need an English translation there's nothing on offer. Take the batch of Grieg songs I unearthed yesterday: delightful material, fully worthy of its inclusion in the Ezust Hall of Fame…it's a just shame my Norwegian's a tad rusty. But no, such carping is hardly fair, because this carefully nurtured haven is regularly updated and the translation picture is improving all the time. Already in 1999 we've been treated to new English renderings of songs by Brahms and Schubert, while the ever-fattening repertoire of original texts by composers familiar and unfamiliar ensures that I for one shall be making regular visits to catch up with new developments.

The Lied and Song Texts Page is at .

Copyright © Mark Valencia, 26 January 1999.

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