This Hour

(Rose Auslander)

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: soprano, tenor, vn, va, vc, harpsichord

Duration: 11 minutes

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Program Notes

A book of Rose Ausländer’s English poems, The Forbidden Tree, arrived in the mail, with a request to set several of the poems for inclusion in a future recording with Pandolfis Consort. Found in a bookshop by Ela Sajka-Bachler, the book arrived shortly after I had completed setting poems by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, a young Jewish poet from Czernowitz who died in a Nazi labor camp at the age of eighteen. The coincidence of the arrival of this book is extraordinary, as I soon discovered, after reading that Rose Ausländer was also born in Czernowitz, although a generation earlier than Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger. After migrating to the United States and becoming a citizen, Rose Auslander returned to Czernowitz to care for her elderly mother – only to become trapped there when the Nazi army occupied Romania. But unlike her younger compatriot, Rose Ausländer survived the war and lived on, continuing to write poetry, in both English and German until her death in 1988. One has to wonder, although I could not find evidence for it, whether these two writers knew one another, despite their age difference, or, perhaps, walked right past one another, unknowingly, on the streets of Czernowitz.

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