The Dark Gate David Lancaster
soprano and piano
This music sets five poems by David Vogel (1891-1944), sung without a break:
1) On Summer Evenings
2) How Can I See You Love
3) An Autumn Day will Breathe
4) With Gentle Fingers
5) There is One Last Solitary Coach about to Leave
In his work and life Vogel was always an outsider. In Vienna (during WWI) he was imprisoned as a Russian subject; he subsequently adopted Austrian nationality then emigrated to Palestine before returning to settle in Paris. At the outbreak of WWII Vogel was arrested in France as an Austrian subject; on the Nazi invasion of France he was released and then re-arrested as a Jew before being transported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1944.
Today Vogel is chiefly remembered for two short novels but there are also some thirty poems. The only anthology published in his lifetime was Before the Dark Gate (Vienna, 1923) from which I take my title, but some of the poems I have set were written later. With the benefit of hindsight they seem deeply imbued with the horror of the impending holocaust but this is only made
explicit in the final poem, which is probably his last work.
I learned about Vogel and his poetry two or three years ago but after visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau in January 2016 I felt compelled to compose this piece, to re-tell Vogel’s words and to reflect on my own memories of that place.