La lune blanche
(The white moon)

Tenor voice (or sopran) and piano
Poem by Paul Verlaine.
Duration : 2’30

First performance on march 30th 2013 at the Espace Fleuret in CNSM of Paris by Fabien Hyon and Yoan Héreau.

Fabien Hyon and Yoan Héreau :

                                  To get the score, send an email to the association Alcmène : Contact

The Moon, White…

The moon, white,
Shines in the trees:
From each bright
Branch a voice flees
Beneath leaves that move,

O well-beloved.

The pools reflect
A mirror’s depth,
The silhouette
Of willows’ wet
Black where the wind weeps…

Let us dream, time sleeps.

It seems a vast, soothing,
Tender balm
Is falling
From heaven’s calm
Empurpled by a star…

It’s the exquisite hour.

Paul Verlaine, La Bonne Chanson

Questionnaire to Patrick Burgan as part of a collective commission on the theme of “La Lune Blanche” (“The White Moon”) – CNSMDP – march 2013



  • When choosing a poem, can its popularity (in terms of number of times set to music) present an obstacle to you?

PB : No


  • Do you tend to lean towards previous versions (if there are any) before approaching a new poem?

PB : I prefer avoiding that



  • Why do you continue to write music on words that have been sung so many times?

       PB : The question is not relevant: the music that I write is my own way of understanding the poem; therefore, it is as though it had never been set to music.



  • In your opinion why has “La Lune Blanche” aroused such great interest with musicians?

      PB : Perhaps because of the emotional intensity of the images, the symmetrical structure, the clarity of simple, straightforward language (as is often the case in Verlaine)



  • What do you think about the power of music over poetry? In what way can the composer guide the listening of a poem? On the contrary do you agree with Reynaldo Hahn that “The role of music in a melody shouldn’t go beyond those of the footlights in a stage play” (1)

     PB : The determining power! The listener is prey to the composer’s own understanding. Hahn’s concept isn’t wrong but it mustn’t be understood as “on the contrary”. In fact the footlights light up the stage and without them all the action would remain hidden in darkness; it is in this sense that music is the footlight which lights up and unlocks the poem. And indeed if the footlights are too powerful, all is overexposed and therefore chaotic and pale: the music must transcend the words but not try to overshadow them.



  • Do you think that a composer wishing to set poetry to music must be acquainted with the rules concerning poetic prosody and versification (metrics, rhyme, etc)?

     PB : Yes! Absolutely!

[1]HAHN (Reynaldo), Notes, Diary of a musician. I-Juvenilia, Plon Edition, 1933