Friday, September 30 | 3:20-4:00 pm

AND MUSIC AT THE CLOSE | Room 210 (Instrumental Hall)

Taking Swann's Road to Middle-Earth: The Myths, Music, and Words of Donald Swann and J.R.R. Tolkien
Richard G. Leonberger

Between the years of 1967 and 1978, British composer Donald Swann set to music nine texts by J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings. This collection, titled The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle, was the only musical setting of Tolkien’s texts to which the author gave his personal attention and approval. This document explores this unique musical work, providing historical, linguistic, and interpretive context to aid future musicians’ performance preparation.

The study begins with a topical biography of Swann, best known for his collaboration with lyricist Michael Flanders. An historical overview of the cycle’s composition, publication, and reception will follow, as well as a brief examination Tolkien’s Elvish languages of Quenya and Sindarin, and interpretive performance guides for the songs, exploring compositional and thematic elements, as well as the relationship between music and text. Following the lecture, Mr. Leonberger will perform the song cycle with piano accompaniment.


Richard G. Leonberger is a visiting assistant professor of voice at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX; he has completed his course of study for the Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at Louisiana State University, and is preparing his dissertation for defense in November, 2016. Mr. Leonberger has performed numerous principal opera roles under such auspices as Tri-Cities Opera, Acadiana Center for the Arts, and Opera Nova Costa Rica, and performed as a soloist in multiple oratorio and art-song works of note, such as Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor and Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin.

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