Solitary Hotel (op. 41, no. 4)

(1968)

“Solitary Hotel” is the fourth song in Samuel Barber’s cycle Despite and Still, Op. 41. It is based on a passage from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Barber sets a “love-at-first-sight” encounter by juxtaposing a punctuated melodic line against the passionate tango-like accompaniment.

Text by James Joyce
from his work Ulysses


Solitary hotel in a mountain pass.
Autumn. Twilight. Fire lit.
In dark corner young man seated.
Young woman enters.
Restless. Solitary. She sits.
She goes to window. She stands.
She sits. Twilight. She thinks.
On solitary hotel paper she writes.
She thinks. She writes. She sighs.
Wheels and hoofs. She hurries out.
He comes from his dark corner.
He seizes solitary paper.
He holds it towards fire. Twilight.
He reads. Solitary. What?
In sloping, upright and backhands:
Queen's hotel, Queen's hotel, Queen's ho . . .


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