"I sing...the body electric," "a song of myself, "a song of joys," "a song of occupations," "a song of the broad-axe," "a song of the rolling earth," "a song of the universal..."
For Walt Whitman--the most influential American poet of the 19th century--music was a central force in his life and work-and so his poetry's appeal to composers should come as no surprise. But they have responded to more than his passion for song. They also find inspiration in his democratic spirit, his sensuality, his grief in the face of war, and his mystic vision.
In this hour, Whitman settings by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Kurt Weill, Howard Hanson, John Adams, and Leonard Bernstein.