Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 2) >> Simms's Musical Settings >> Page 5

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Page 5

Secondary Scholarship | 1993
Transcription 5
This and future advertisements would run for several months at a time.
To date, sheet music has been located for only two of the songs in the
series that have texts by Simms.'S The first of these, "Come Back Soon," was
announced in the Courier on 6 April 1842. A copy of the sheet music is at the
South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. The poem was
first published by Simms in the American Monthly on 1 February 1835. The text
of "Come Back Soon" [Example 1] deals with two lovers who have parted and
long to reunite. At the time this poem was written, Simms was courting
Chevillette.
The composer of the musical setting, Matthew Sully Reeves, was active
in Charleston as a composer and vocalist from the 1830s until at least as late as
1861.16 The pairing of Simms and Reeves for this setting is appropriate in that
Reeves was held in as high esteem in music as Simms was in poetry. An issue
of the Courier in January 1831 described Reeves as a "native and improved
genius" whose study at St. Paul's Cathedral in London "placed him in a station
that at once gave scope to his talents, and tended to establish his reputation.'
An editorial which appreared in the Courier (12 August 1832) affirmed his
reputation locally. Reeves was described as one "whom everybody likes
personally and professionally." A later assessment "hailed [Reeves] as one who
was 'born and raised amongst ourselves' and who can `compete with the foreign
artists."
The musical setting of "Come Back Soon" is the most ambitious of the
four antebellum musical settings of Simms's poetry that have been located. The
key, A-flat major, and the degree of difficulty of the accompaniment, with its
parallel octaves and parallel sixths, would make the work difficult for the amateur pianist. The tempo marking, affectuoso expressivo, effectively sets the mood of
the piece, while the musical setting adds to the interpretation of the poem. For
example, at the end of the third line of text, "And still within mine ear," the
composer writes a half cadence and a fermata, which awaits the reply, "Oh! Come
back soon." As compared with the other antebellum settings of Simms's poetry,
this song has the greatest melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic interest.
The publication of "Ask Me No More for Song, Dear Maid" [Example 2]
was announced in the Courier on 29 April 1843. Copies of this work are in the
University of Georgia's Hargrett Library and the Salley Collection in the South
Caroliniana Library. The poem was first published unsigned in the issue of
January 1843 of the Magnolia, a Southern magazine published in Charleston. The
text of the poem deals with unrequited love. The composer reflects the text's
form in the A B A design of both verses.
Maximilian Zuboff, the composer, was active in Charleston as a composer
of instrumental and vocal music. His name also appears as a performer in an
announcement of a benefit concert in the Courier of 15 April 1842. The
instrument for performance is unspecified.
The musical setting, while in the easy key of C major, is quite difficult to
execute because of the proliferation of grace notes in the accompaniment and