Obscure Music Monday: Bauer's Night in the Woods

Marion Bauer (Aug. 15, 1882 - Aug. 9, 1955) was an American composer, music critic, teacher, and writer. Born in Walla Walla, Washington, she was the youngest of seven children. Her father noticed her musical inclinations and she began studying piano  with her elder sister Emilie, who was 17 years older than her. 

After finishing high school, Bauer traveled to New York City to be with her sister Emilie, and focus on composition. She also studied with Henry Holden Huss and Eugene Heffley, and through some other connections, Bauer went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger. In return for composition lessons, Bauer taught her English. Bauer came back to America after a year in Paris, and continued to study with Heffley, and also began teaching piano and music theory on her own. Just a few years after that she returned again to Europe, this time to study with Paul Ertel in Berlin. She also studied later on with Andre Gedalge at the Paris Conservatory, who had also taught Maurice Ravel and Darius Milhaud. Bauer would go on to teach and lecture at New York University, Juilliard, and Columbia University. She also helped found the American Music Guild, the American Music Center, and the American Composer's Alliance, and also served on the board of important organizations.

Bauer's compositional output was not insignificant; she wrote many works for orchestra, piano, chamber ensembles, choirs, and other vocal works, such as Night in the Woods. Written for voice and piano, this calming work is based off E. R. Sill's poem Night and Peace.  The piano part is beautifully simple, with mainly quarter note chords with the vocal line sung above it. The piece has no dramatic swells, or lengthy expositions; it's a calm, relaxing work, that musically describes the oncoming of night after the sun goes down. It is simple, tranquil, and beautiful.

NIGHT in the woods,—night:
Peace, peace on the plain.
The last red sunset beam
Belts the tall beech with gold;
The quiet kine are in the fold,
And stilly flows the stream.
Soon shall we see the stars again,
For one more day down to its rest has lain,
And all its cares have taken flight,
And all its doubt and pain.
Night in the woods,—night:
Peace, peace on the plain.

Here's a recording of his lovely work for you to enjoy!

Robert Barefield and Carolyn Hague

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