David Schickele’s Waldsongs
Introduction by Peter Schickele
My brother David was two years younger than I, and we were very close growing up. My nickname for him was Wald, because… never mind, it takes too long to explain. By the time we were in our teens, we were involved with (amateur) theatrics, movies and music-making. David got to be a good violist, but he ended up becoming a film maker whose other passion was music, especially chamber music; I became a composer whose other passion is movies.
In the last decades of his too-brief life—he was 62 years old when cancer brought him down—a new side of his musicality emerged: he started writing and recording songs for his friends’ and family’s birthdays and other occasions. Eventually he bought a four-track tape recorder, which led to more and more elaborate productions, on which he usually sang and played all the parts. His lyrics were poetic and intensely personal (to himself and the recipients of his songs), so there are sometimes references that a stranger won’t catch, but the core meaning always comes through. Every once in a while he collected his latest songs on a beautifully-designed cassette and sent it around to his large circle of close friends (he had a genius for friendship) and family.
Stealthily, in middle age, while making and editing films, David became a very fine composer. Many of his songs, like My Fair My Dark and Karla Barley (written for my daughter’s sixth(?) birthday) I, with my 60 years of experience, would be proud to have written myself. Now, as the tenth anniversary of his death in 1999 is upon us, his wife, Gail, his nephew, (my son) Matthew, and one of his true-bluest friends, Douglas Martin, have committed themselves to releasing all five volumes of Waldsongs on CD, and I am happy to help in making them more widely available, and to recommend them to your attention.
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