A une femme



À une femme - (2009)    

Victor Hugo

for baritone and piano


Enfant, si j'étais roi, je donnerais l'empire,
Et mon char, et mon sceptre, et mon peuple à genoux,
Et ma couronne d'or, et mes bains de porphyre,
Et mes flottes, à qui la mer ne peut suffire,
Pour un regard de vous!

Si j'étais Dieu, la terre et l'air avec les ondes,
Les anges, les démons courbés devant ma loi,
Et le profond chaos aux entrailles fécondes,
L'éternité, l'espace et les cieux et les mondes,
Pour un baiser de toi!

[ 3 pages, circa 1' 45" ]

Victor Hugo


Child, if I were king I would give the empire,
and my chariot, and my scepter, and my kneeling people,
and my golden crown, and my porphyry baths,
and my fleets that the sea could not hold,
for one of your glances!

If I were God, earth and heaven with the waves,
the angels, the demons bent before my law,
and the chaos of the fertile deep,
eternity, space, the heavens and the worlds
for a kiss from you!

Translation from French to English copyright © 2002 by Faith J. Cormier,

as available on the The Lied and Art Song Texts Page, a marvelous resource created and maintained by Emily Ezust.



The tempo as indicated is not fixed, if the performers would find a brighter tempo to their liking. The clarity of text should be a goal, of course. The added seconds in the otherwise normal triadic harmony is a them of the setting, as also in the upper neighbor second in the cadential gestures. A slightly Baroque texture as at measure 12 and beyond will emphasize these sequences.



Underscoring the last part of both verses are excerpted phrases from the "Marseillaise," the French national anthem, as a small musical joke. The duple meter theme is spelled out within the triple meter of the quotes, as to not be too apparent to the eye; the ear will notice immediately. Using the modern anthem while the character wishes he were king or God indicates clearly that he is stuck simple being a modern democrat. Such is life.



The score for À une femme is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


À une femme