Someone was talking to me about breaking up the other day, and discussing how it is a loss that must be grieved when a relationship ends. They went on to discuss the five stages of grief that we experience, sometimes all at once: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. Working on Liederkreis Op. 24 lately, I have been able to see exactly how the heartbroken protagonist of the cycle experiences each stage painfully and traumatically. In the context of our recital program, it is as if the love who had captured his heart in the Fauré songs has spurned him, leaving him to grapple with that rejection and loss. In the first song, he hopes against hope for a glimpse of his love, endlessly frustrated that she won't see him. In the second, he excitedly awaits the meeting with his love that he has been longing for, although it apparently does not go well, as in the third song, he is destroyed by everything he sees around him, as it reminds him of what he has lost. He begs for death in the fourth song to end his pain, and resolves to leave his home, where he first met his love, in the fifth. In six, as he flags down the sailor to take him away, his anger consumes him and he blames his love for his burning pain. In the seventh, as he sails away, he tries to take in the beauty of his surroundings, but still the bitterness and hurt inside his heart remains. In the eighth and ninth songs, he finally accepts what has happened, and attempts to put it all behind him, hopeful for a kind of reconciliation one day.
A friend pointed out to me the other day that pain and hurt are inevitably part of what comes with the experience of falling in love, and that we must know that going in. Somehow, that knowledge never prepares us for the blinding anguish that we suffer when our heart is broken, and something that we innocently hoped would continue to bring us joy and happiness forever suddenly disappears, leaving us bereft.