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Twelve Solo Songs

Between 1937 and 1939 ApIvor composed a further twelve solo songs, which, in contrast to his Op. 1 and Op. 2, were conceived individually, rather than as part of a set. These were later grouped into the composer’s Op. 3, together with miscellaneous songs from Op. 1 and Op. 2. Significantly, ApIvor chose to abandon the medium of the string quartet in favour of the piano at this point, possibly for practical reasons as the likelihood of a performance would have been greater for a duo.

The texts chosen for these settings are derived from a variety of sources and historical periods, reflecting various aspects of the composer’s outlook during this period. A number of the songs use texts which are expressive of sincere religious devotion, but in a manner which may most appropriately be described as ‘decadent’. This may be best understood in terms of the decadence towards Roman Catholicism expressed by poets and writers in the 1890s, including J. K. Huysmans, Arthur Symons and Oscar Wilde. The decadents upheld a view of Roman Catholicism that emphasized its mystical, erotic and aesthetic characteristics. In particular there was an interest in the paradoxical nature of Catholicism – for example in the contrasts of the spiritual with the sensual and the erotic with the sexually virtuous. Female icons from the Bible such as Eve, the Blessed Virgin and Salomé were often used to highlight this paradox in decadent writing. In ApIvor’'s work, this ethos is expressed in settings of Medieval texts: ‘'There is no rose of swich vertu'’ (1937), ‘'My song is in sighing’' (1937), ‘'Quho is at my window, quho?'’ (1938) and '‘Lully Lulláy’' (1939). Such texts expressed in his words, a ‘primitivism’ or simplistic purity, which suggested a sincerity of religious outlook.