Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: Joseph Szulc's Clair de Lune

One of the most beautiful things about exploring the art song tradition is that every so often you uncover a song by an unknown composer that speaks with such elegance and beauty that you're astonished not to have heard it before.

While preparing for a Vocal Lit class at the Glenn Gould School last week I found just one of those buried treasures: a 1907 setting of Verlaine's Clair de lune by Polish/French composer and conductor Joseph Szulc. Although the Fauré and Debussy settings are far more well known, Szulc's setting has an undoubtedly French intimacy and sensuality that stands up to the other versions extremely well.

There are only a handful of recordings I could find, most of them on YouTube. Here is one by an unknown (French?) baritone with a likewise unknown pianist:

This vinyl recording is sung by Maggie Teyte, with Gerald Moore at the piano:

The sound on the Teyte/More recording above isn't very good, but you can get a better account of it on this Naxos release. If you're looking for a score of this singular Clair de lune setting, there's a free one on IMSLP (thank you again, Sibley Library!).


  1. I love this song! I sang it in my first year of university, lo these many years ago. Good old Gary Relyea! He knew how to assign beautiful and unusual repertoire to his students.

  2. Hey Chris, I love discovering gems as well. Sometimes I go to old bookstores (that are physical!) and flip through old manuscripts-- if I'm lucky, I'll find something interesting and lovely. Nonetheless, the mining process is exciting.

    Thanks for sharing this song. Maybe you and your students can make a new (better quality) recording so more people in the world can enjoy it!

  3. I played this song 2 years ago in violin.
    Now I want to learn this song in piano.
    What a really gorgeous song <3