The lovers walk, New York: Published by Currier & Ives, [between 1856 and 1907].
by Charles Griffes, 1884-1920
Beginning in 1907, American composer Charles Griffes was teaching at the Hackley School, an all boys' school in Tarrytown, New York. In addition to teaching, Griffes was also becoming active as a composer; in fact, his first publication came from G. Schirmer, who in 1909 published five of Griffes's German songs. Since Griffes composed "Evening Song" in 1912, just a few years after his debut publication, and because it contains a full, lush chordal accompaniment reminiscent of 19th-century harmonic procedures, this song falls into what many consider Griffes's "German period" of composition.
"Evening Song" is set to a text by Sidney Lanier (1842-1881), an American from the South who fought in the Civil War. It is worth noting that Lanier himself was also a musician – indeed, a talented flutist who sat first chair with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore in 1873 – and, as a result, his poetry often exhibits a musical metrical style. The text describes two lovers as they watch the setting sun meld into the sea; but whereas the sun and sea are once again separated upon dawn, the lovers will never part. For the three stanzas, Griffes employed a modified ternary (or ABA) structure, surrounded by a lilting introduction and a quiet and calm conclusion.