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A Dramatic Cantata written by K. J. ERBEN
Set to Music for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone Soli, chorus and Orchestra by ANTONIN DVORAK
S.B. from Manchester
HAROLD Williams (Baritone)
THE HALLÉ Chorus : Chorus Master,
Conducted by T. H. Morrison
(For the words of the Cantata eee page 319)
'THE SPECTRE'S BRIDE, written for the Birmingham Festival of 1885, when the composer came over and conducted it, is a poetic version by K. J. Erben (English by Dr. Troutbeck) of an old legend found very widely scattered over Europe. The theme is that of a dead man who returns as a spectre to claim his beloved.
At the opening of the work the maiden is praying by night before a picture of the Virgin. She is an orphan; her sister died when a child, and her brother has gone to the wars. Her lover has been away three years, and she knows not what his fortunes may have been.
The picture suddenly moves, the lamp flares up and goes out. She hears steps outside, and a knock on the door. Her lover's voice calls to her to follow him, for they are to be wed ere the dawn. She goes out, and the spectre leads her in haste over the countryside, by rough places and through dark woods. The ghostly lover bids her throw away her prayer-book, her crucifix and rosary. He answers none of her questions, but ever draws her on in greater haste until she is exhausted and her feet are bleeding. At length, they reach a graveyard. She is terrified and would return, but the spectre leaps the wall, calling on her to follow.
In an instant she takes courage and runs to a little cottage near by, where she bars the door against the horror. She finds within a corpse laid upon a plank. Ghosts gather before the door, and chant :
' The body must to death be brought,
And woe to him who ill has wrought.'
There is a knock at the door, and the voice of the spectral lover calls on the dead man to rise and draw the bolts. The corpse comes to life and is about to do so when, by the power of the maiden's anguished prayer, the life is withdrawn from it, and it falls again stark and still. Once more the voice commands, and once more the dead arises, to be struck motionless again as the maid renews her prayer for heavenly intercession, and in the Holy Name bids it forbear to move. A third time the spectre exerts its power, but now the cock crows, and at the sound the dead man moves no more, and the ghosts vanish.
In the morning the people coming to church find her alive in the house of the dead, and in the churchyard a ruined grave.


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2LO London, 19 February 1928 15.30

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