Ned Rorem’s 1963 song cycle for mezzo-soprano, Poems of Love and the Rain, presents settings of texts by eight American authors loosely centered on the subject of unrequited love. The cycle’s formal structure is particularly unique given that each text is set twice, with contrasting settings placed directly opposite each other along the cycle’s temporal plane. That is, the sequential ordering of texts, one to nine then back to one, yields an overarching pyramidal or mirror form. The following study examines text-music relationships, both at various moments within the cycle and between contrasting settings, with the ultimate goal of proposing an extramusical framework from which to characterize a perceivable psychological metamorphosis that occurs within the cycle’s primary dramatic subject across the work’s duration. Particularly, aspects of motive, form, and musical climax are analyzed in conjunction with associated texts to identify aural manifestations of this metamorphosis throughout the cycle. Results suggest that, unlike the overarching formal structure, the cycle’s subject does not end where it began, but rather emerges as a changed entity, fundamentally affected by the work’s underlying dramatic trajectory.


Mowrey, Peter




Music Theory


music theory, Ned Rorem, Poems of Love and the Rain, persona, The College of Wooster, art song, music and meaning, poetry, text-music relationships

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar

Included in

Music Theory Commons



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