The French songs of Lee Hoiby

Scott LaGraff, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College


Lee Hoiby has written almost a hundred songs, nearly all of them in English, but an interesting and growing subset of his oeuvre is settings of French texts. This document delves deeply into six of them: the sets Three French Songs (formerly Trois Poèmes de Rimbaud, 1982) and Chants d’Exil (2002). The study begins with brief biographical and stylistic synopses, including an examination of the influence of Schubert’s songs on Hoiby’s own. Subsequent chapters include discussions of the poets Arthur Rimbaud and Marcel Osterrieth, analyses of their poetry, and musical analyses of Hoiby's settings, focusing on the relationship between text and music and the composer's economical use of musical material. Additionally, an appendix provides a complete listing of Hoiby’s song output, including pieces not mentioned in earlier dissertations.