John Potter


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Yale University Press
22 August 2023
ISBN: 9780300263534
368 pages

From the publisher

From one of our most innovative singers, a vibrant history of song stretching from Hildegard von Bingen and Benjamin Britten to Björk
“Songs can be intensely personal (whether you hear them or sing them) and none of us would choose the same twelve songs as anyone else. My choices are based on decades of performing experience in many different genres, but I hope they will reveal aspects of our common humanity as the story evolves from the Middle Ages to the present.”
In this celebratory account, author and singer John Potter tells the European story of song. The form has captivated audiences and excited performers for centuries, from the music of the troubadours and the Christian liturgy through classical composers such as Bach and Schumann up to Britten, Berio, and the rise of popular music.
Choosing twelve key works, Potter offers a personal tour through this vital tradition, from John Dowland’s “Flow My Tears” to George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Throughout, he reveals who wrote and sang these joyful masterpieces—and what they mean to singers and audiences today.