Program Note

Lili Marlene, a famous WWII song, by Norbert Schultze and Hans Leip, has been known for its peculiar history. Famously sung by Marlene Ditrich, Lili Marlene was favored by the Allies (in particular, the British soldiers) in WWII. Coincidentally, it was also one of the most popular songs of the Nazi German soldiers in its original language.

The phenomena of the same song, sung from both sides of the “fence,” was the initial impulse to compose this work. The original version of the song is sung first, in English, while in the background, motives from Orff’s Carmina Burana, a Nazi musical favorite, begin to emerge. A rhythmical and harmonic transformation follows, revealing the “true” Lili Marlene, in German, its original language.

I am grateful to the jazz vocalist and my teacher at NEC, Dominique Eade, who first rehearsed the work with A Far Cry, an upcoming conductorless string orchestra based in Boston. In its revised version, the work has been recorded by the NEC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Loebel with my friend, mezzo-soprano Sophie Delphis.

Matti Kovler


Sophie Delphis, mezzo soprano
NEC Symphony Orchestra, string section
David Loebel, conductor

World premiere: