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From the Naxos Blog: Playing fairies

June 16, 2023

Photo: Wikipedia – Public Domain

The importance of the date may have flown under your radar, but 24 June marks International Fairy Day. Acknowledging just how integrated these treasured tiny creatures of mythic imagination are in everyday life and centuries-old traditions, there will no doubt be numerous festivals taking place around the world in honour of the wee folk who have inspired so many artistic creations across all disciplines. So, instead of leaving out a biscuit and a glass of milk for any and all passing fairy folk, I thought this blog could make a quick flutter across music that has been inspired by fairies and a selection of their cousins: the sprite, imp, brownie, puck, dwarf and troll.

We open with one of Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s Songs of a Fairy Princess, which he wrote in 1915 and are settings of six texts by his sister Zofia Szymanowska. The composer explained: “I have written six songs to Zioka’s words with which I am very satisfied. […] I had a certain style in mind – and she has done it perfectly. The songs are for coloratura soprano.” The Princess is enigmatic. We don’t know her name or where she comes from, but her provenance is revealed by the music: colourful arabesques, melismata and ornamentally embellished melodies leave no room for doubt that she must be a princess from the Orient. Here’s her fourth song, titled Taniec (Dance). Continue reading and listening at