09 June, 2014

The Other Side of the Footlights

Early in 1927 it was announced in the New York Times: "Mrs. Edith Rockefeller McCormick of Chicago, long a patron of the world of music, has again stepped to the other side of the musical footlights." In collaboration with her fellow music aficionado and neighbor, Eleanor Everest Freer, Edith wrote the lyrics for a song that Freer had written, "I Write Not to Thee, Dearest."

Eleanor Everest Freer

Both women were considered to be the most prominent of the wealthy music supporters in Chicago at the time, particularly with regard to the Chicago Civic Opera Company. Freer was well know for composing many musical works, particularly a volume of forty-four songs from the Portuguese, a song cycle for medium voices.

Given how well-read Edith Rockefeller McCormick was - combined with her passion for opera (and her hatred of hymns), I'm not surprised that she took on this project. What has me curious is just who was she thinking of when she wrote it:

I write not to thee dearest,
I write to what thou art;
For the brightness of thy face, dearest,
Blinds thee from my heart. 

I write not of thee, dearest,
I write of what thou art;
For the radiance of thy soul, dearest, 
Obscures thee from my heart. 

The fairest dew of God-made morn
Is frail enough to be the tears,
That fall from my eyes, dearest, 
Because I cannot see.


"I Write Not to Thee, Dearest" was Edith's second in her "Love Song Cycle" with Eleanor Everest Freer. Her first,  "How Can We Know?" was published in August of 1925. That work, which treats of an agony of doubt, a groping in uncertainty, ends with the ne plus ultra:
No earth-stain'd judgement of men,
And no fire-prov'd power of the gods,
Can take this knowledge from us.
For we know through the trust born of love.

Edith Rockefeller McCormick in the early 1920s

No comments: