MODEST MUSORGSKY’S CYCLE SONGS
Posted by: Write My Essay on: August 9, 2017
In Modest Musorgsky’s Cycle Songs and Dances of Death’s “Lullaby,” he depicts Death as being the saving grace for the woman’s baby. Death believes the mother hasn’t cared for her child well enough, “You’ve failed to pacify the child,” – and so he is taking the baby to put it out of its misery. She doesn’t want the baby to go, but by the end of the song, she is glad that he has, as she takes over Death’s lyrics “Lulla, lulla, lullaby.”
This piece is unusual because it depicts death as being a benevolent force, and even the mother, from whom the baby is taken, recognizes this: “With your tenderness, you’ll kill my joy!” The narrator also believes death is “compassionate.”
The mother doesn’t want death to take her baby, “Quiet! My child thrashes and struggles, tormenting my soul! … Hush, I beg you … Be gone, cursed one!” But she recognizes that death is caring: “With your tenderness, you’ll kill my child.” So it appears that she recognizes that death is the best thing for her child, but she loves the baby and wants it to stay with her. The flickering candle would indicate the woman is poor and can’t afford to care for her child, who is likely sick and will be put out of its misery by death.
The narrator seems sympathetic to the mother: “Rocking the cradle all through the night. … The mother has not lost herself to sleep.” The narrator also seems sympathetic to the child: “The child groans. … Compassionate death knocks!” Also, the way in which the narrator refers to death as “compassionate,” indicates he agrees that death is the best answer for the child.
Musorgsky repeats, “Lulla, lulla, lullaby.” At first, it is Death that says it, but then the mother changes her tone and it would appear that at the end, she finally agrees with death taking her child because she takes on Death’s words, “Lulla, lulla, lullaby.”
The piano could reflect the mother’s emotions. The pace appears to be slow when she is comforting and mourning her child, but then picks up pace when she is confronted by Death. The frantic pace could reflect her torn emotions about letter her child die.