Cover me with flowers ; Summer solstice greetings

Summer of 1990 growing near parent's home.
Summer of 1990 growing near parent’s home.

Summer is a week away. It is a strange time of pulling, changing and growing. Gravity is intense now. Yet the tendency to expand to the cosmos is a real problem as well.  This pulling down and expanding up is a type of living intensity that we all go through, but regardless we collectively enjoy our summer on this side of the earth; the western hemisphere. This hollyhock watercolor symbolizes what summer represents. The tall stalks and colorful blooms show the glory of summer. This hollyhock worked hard to get there too. I captured this the summer of 1990 when I too was changing and reaching a new phase of my life and ready for something new!! I found this image today while going through some of my things.

I also found some sheet music by Hugo Wolf that I have been looking for such a long time. It was underneath hiding under the watercolor. I enrolled in an opera singing course at Los Angeles Valley College around 1996. I learned to love Hugo Wolf’s compositions and the variety of lyricists that he worked with. Bedeckt mich mit Blumen is a haunting and beautiful song.  It was beyond my talents to sing but I still enjoy it completely.

Bringing these two lost items, a watercolor and some music, is a way to celebrate the coming summer. I do not like summer much because leaving spring is a type of unwilling death to me…so the extramundane and oxymoronic come together once more as gifts of days gone by for the coming summer.

Cover me with flowers by Hugo Wolf Liederabend 15

(Bedeckt mich mit Blumen)

Oh, deck me with roses,
I die: love hath slain me.
Left me softly sighing
zephyr steal from me the breath of my roses,
oh deck me!

For I know not which is sweeter:
Loves pure spirit
or the lush breath of roses
Gather lilies and jasmines,
these shall
be my grave's soft cover
I'm dying

And you ask me, friends
Of what?
I answer:
Of life's sweetest pain,
for I love her,
I love her. (John Bernhoff)

Hugo Wolf: The strange man

It was a strange time of learning. Unfamiliar faces as if I were in a dream. English, statistics and singing all blended within my brain and heart; expanding me from the inside out. A certain composer found me and expanded my heart even more. A man who experienced joy and suffering, and like me, did not try to shy away from either one. I still to this day turn to his music, for it is only he who understands the darkness of the soul. This is how we met.

One day while in the university library I was deep in study. Sitting cross-legged I pulled my leg out and knocked a book shelve. A book fell down to my lap. I looked at the book. It was a biography of Hugo Wolf.

“What a strange name?”

For a month I was overtaken by his life. His music and lyrics opened a strange long-ago world for me. His crazy passion for life thrilled me. He adored the composer Richard Wagner and wrote music for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s lyrics. I did not really have to know what the music was about because my heart already knew.

One story I remember reading about him is when he was living on the street. He was very poor. He was sick and starving, yet he carried a large object around with him. It was wrapped up in cloth. One day a dear friend saw Hugo on the street. He asked his friend to his home for food and a place to sleep. The friend asked what he was carrying. He told him that he had lost everything, and this is all he had left. He carried it around with him and never left it unattended to. Hugo unwrapped the object. His friend saw that it was a large breast of a man. It was of the great composer Richard Wagner.

And to the one song by Hugo Wolf that escapes me….

"Do you know the land where citrons bloom,
Golden oranges glow among dark leaves,
A gentle wind blows from the blue sky,
The myrtle is still, and the laurel stands tall?
Do you know it well?
    It is there! - there
That I would go with you, my beloved."