Robert Helps, Vocal tour

The Vocal Œuvre of Robert Helps

Pussies and Pansies (1997) [for tenor and piano]

— The undeniable living greatness of Robert Helps was only enhanced by his irrepressible propensity for utter frivolity. He openly disliked the title of Mendelssohn’s famous Variations Sérieuses because, he said, This title presupposes the existence of a set of complementary ‘Frivolous Variations’ which music history has failed to produce.
Robert Helps, composer of Pussies and Pansies, at one of his standing-room-only “Sensua-by-Candlelight” tag-team concerts in Tampa, Florida
Helps was a devoted fan of the slender literary output of 1920’s-era Chicago housewife cum poetess, Marjorie Felkner-Wagner (no relation). Favorite at parties was her skilled double-quatrain “Pussies and Pansies”. After innumerable recitations of this poem, Helps finally set it to music in a burst of inspiration. The result is sheer delight.

Pussies and Pansies is dedicated
to David del Tredici

Read the text of Pussies and Pansies 
The opening piano bars of Pussies and Pansies

The score to Pussies and Pansies will probably remain available only via Samizdat-like exchanges... Contact the webmaster ✉ if interested.

Text of the song: Pussies and Pansies

If little pussy cats are good
And have behaved as pussies should,
They go to heaven when they’re dead;
Their heaven is my pansy bed.
And there each pussy finds a place
To lift a smiling pansy face.
The purple pansies I like best.
They’re Maltese kitties gone to rest.

(Marjorie Felkner-Wagner)