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Composed by Z. Randall Stroope
Catalog number: AMP 0881
About the poet...
Fray Luis de León (c. 1527-1591) was born at Belmonte de Cuenca in La Mancha. At age fourteen, he entered the University of Salamanca and then joined the Augustinian Order in 1544. Apart from his theological duties, he wrote poetry and prose, establishing himself as a well-known scholar and linguist of the Spanish Golden Age. He was placed in prison for four years during the Spanish Inquisition for translating some religious writings into Spanish instead of Latin. Though his fiery personality is seen mostly in his prose, his poetry promotes his effort to merge the mind and the imagination into a world of visionary ideas of peace and civilized existence.
The current setting of Noche Serena (ZRS) uses only a fragment of the entire sixteen-stanza (five lines per stanza) poem by Fray Luis de León, and seeks to capture only a small part of the total essence of the poem. The theologian-poet describes the (traditional) view of earth to heaven in the first part of the poem, with a sense of expansiveness and beauty. Then, Fray Luis de León “looks to earth from heaven” and sees a world in desolation, the absence of a “pilot on rough seas,” and a planet without religious conviction or belief. In other words, when the poet looked at the serene star-lit night from earth's standpoint, he saw grandiosity and beauty. But when he looked from the sky to earth, he saw a confined (“like a jail”) people and a world in chaos.
There is a brief reference to “Loarte” (Diego de) in measures 46-47, who was a dear friend of Fray Luis de León's. Some printings of the poem have other text here (“la lengua dice”), but the composer chose to include the version with Loarte's name
“the eyes, like founts beyond control, Loarte, and I finally say with painful voice...”. Fray Luis de León also dedicated the poem to Loarte.
About the composer...
recorded performance by Allen High School Concert Choir
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