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September 2013
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On-Demand: Thomas Hampson and Whitman

Thomas Hampson

Thomas Hampson

The New York Philharmonic This Week, Thursday at 8:00 PM

Conductor: Alan Gilbert
Soloists: Dorothea Röschmann, soprano; Michelle De Young, mezzo-soprano; New York Choral Artists, Joseph Flummerfelt, director

Mahler: Symphony No. 2, Resurrection
Adams: The Wound-Dresser (Thomas Hampson, baritone

This week’s New York Philharmonic broadcast pairs despair with salvation: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony and John Adams’ The Wound Dresser, a setting of a wartime poem by Walt Whitman. Thomas Hampson sings with Dorothea Röschmann, and Michelle De Young.

WFMT has in its archive, Hampson singing Mahler’s Rhine Legend from a 2010 Impromptu. Mahler borrowed the text from Das Knaben Wunderhorn for the song, as well as for the Resurrection Symphony.

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Text for Resurrection Symphony and The Wound Dresser:


Primeval Light

O red rose!

Man lies in greatest need!

Man lies in greatest pain!

How I would rather be in heaven.

There came I upon a broad path

when came a little angel and wanted to turn me away.

Ah no! I would not let myself be turned away!

I am from God and shall return to God!

The loving God will grant me a little light,

Which will light me into that eternal blissful life!

(From Des Knaben Wunderhorn)


Rise again, yes, rise again,

Will you My dust,

After a brief rest!

Immortal life! Immortal life

Will He who called you, give you.


To bloom again were you sown!

The Lord of the harvest goes

And gathers in, like sheaves,

Us together, who died.

(Friedrich Klopstock)


O believe, my heart, O believe:

Nothing to you is lost!

Yours is, yes yours, is what you desired

Yours, what you have loved

What you have fought for!


O believe,

You were not born for nothing!

Have not for nothing, lived, suffered!


What was created

Must perish,

What perished, rise again!

Cease from trembling!

Prepare yourself to live!


O Pain, You piercer of all things,

From you, I have been wrested!

O Death, You masterer of all things,

Now, are you conquered!


With wings which I have won for myself,

In love’s fierce striving,

I shall soar upwards

To the light which no eye has penetrated!


Die shall I in order to live.

Rise again, yes, rise again,

Will you, my heart, in an instant!

That for which you suffered,

To God will it lead you!

(Gustav Mahler)


The Dresser

by Walt Whitman

AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,

Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to children,

Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens that love me;

Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,

Of unsurpass’d heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;) 5

Now be witness again—paint the mightiest armies of earth;

Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to tell us?

What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,

Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous, what deepest remains?

O maidens and young men I love, and that love me, 10

What you ask of my days, those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls;

Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover’d with sweat and dust;

In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful charge;

Enter the captur’d works…. yet lo! like a swift-running river, they fade;

Pass and are gone, they fade—I dwell not on soldiers’ perils or soldiers’ joys; 15

(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.)


But in silence, in dreams’ projections,

While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,

So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,

In nature’s reverie sad, with hinged knees returning, I enter the doors—(while for you up there, 20

Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of strong heart.)

Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,

Straight and swift to my wounded I go,

Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;

Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground; 25

Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital;

To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;

To each and all, one after another, I draw near—not one do I miss;

An attendant follows, holding a tray—he carries a refuse pail,

Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied and fill’d again. 30


I onward go, I stop,

With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;

I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoidable;

One turns to me his appealing eyes—(poor boy! I never knew you,

Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.) 35
On, on I go!—(open doors of time! open hospital doors!)

The crush’d head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not the bandage away;)

The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through and through, I examine;

Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard;

(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death! 40

In mercy come quickly.)


From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,

I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood;

Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv’d neck, and side-falling head;

His eyes are closed, his face is pale, (he dares not look on the bloody stump, 45

And has not yet look’d on it.)


I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;

But a day or two more—for see, the frame all wasted already, and sinking,

And the yellow-blue countenance see.


I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet wound, 50

Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,

While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding the tray and pail.


I am faithful, I do not give out;

The fractur’d thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,

These and more I dress with impassive hand—(yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning flame.) 55
Thus in silence, in dreams’ projections,

Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;

The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,

I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so young;

Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet and sad; 60

(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,

Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.)

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