Saturday, August 22, 2015

Thomas Moore's "'Tis The Last Rose of Summer" - Some Notes About The Tune's History


"'Tis The Last Rose of Summer" was and is one of the most successful and most beloved songs of Thomas Moore's famous Irish Melodies. It appeared first in the 5th volume of this series that was published in December 1813 (pp. 16-21, at BStB-DS):

A while ago I wrote about the song's history in Germany where it also became a very popular "Volkslied" (see this text). But the tune has also a very interesting pre-history that is worth sketching and discussing here. Moore found the melody with the title "The Groves of Blarney" in a collection published a couple of years earlier (see Chinnéide, p. 120): 
  • A Collection of Old Established Irish Slow & Quick Tunes Arranged for the Harp, Piano Forte, Violin, Flute, Flageolett Or Bagpipes, Selected and Published by S. Holden, Dublin, n. d. [c. 1805/6], I, p. 18 (available at IMCO; also SITM II, No. 4510) 
 This was the first and only time this melody was printed before the publication of his song. Holden's tune book happened to be a very important source for Moore who borrowed there all in all nearly 30 tunes (see Chinnéide, p. 113). In case of "The Groves of Blarney" he did not use it unchanged but of course "altered" it a little bit, as he himself later noted in a letter to his publisher (see Chinnéide, p. 122) and also left out the refrain. 

"The Groves of Blarney" was a popular song written circa 15 years earlier by Richard A. Milliken (1767-1815, see Hadden, DNB 37, p. 437), a jurist, writer, artist and editor living in Cork, as a parody of an older song with the title "Castle Hyde". There is a colorful story about these two songs that was first published in a memoir added to a posthumous edition of his Poetical Fragments (London, 1823) and then reprinted in 1839 by Thomas Crofton Croker in his Popular Songs of Ireland (pp. 141-2). This is worth quoting here in parts once again because it shows nicely how and why such songs were created: 
"An itinerant poet [...] composed a song in praise [...] of Castle Hyde, the beautiful seat of the Hyde family on the river Blackwater; but, instead of the expected renumeration, the poor poet was driven from the gate by order of the then proprietor, who, from the absurdity of the thing, conceived that it could be only meant as mockery [...] The author, however, well satisfied of its merits, and stung with indignation and disappointment, vented his rage in an additional verse against the owner, and sung it wherever he had an opportunity of raising his angry voice [...] the song became a favourite with the lower orders; then found its way into ballads, and at length into the convivial meetings of gentlemen. It was in one of those that Mr. Milliken undertook, in the gaiety of the moment, to produce a song that, if not superior, should at least equal in absurdity to 'Castle Hyde'; and accordingly adopting the tune, and taking Blarney for his subject, he soon made good of his promise [...]". 
This apparently happened in 1798 or 1799 and according to Croker it was Milliken's intention "to ridicule the songs which ignorant Irish village bards [...] were, and still are, in the habit of composing". I will only quote here the first verse (from Croker 1839, p. 147) : 
The Groves of Blarney they are so charming,
All by the purling of sweet silent streams,
Being banked with posies that spontaneous grow there,
Planted in order by the sweet rock close.
'Tis there's the daisy and sweet carnation,
The blooming pink, and the rose so fair;
The daffydowndilly, besides the lilly, -
Flowers that scent the sweet fragrant air.
Oh, ullagoane, &c.
[...] 
Here we can also see of course the cultural clash between the Anglo-Irish elite, represented by Mr. Milliken, and the local Irish population, represented by this particular "village bard". Later Irish writer and song collector Patrick Weston Joyce (1909, No. 395, p. 203) saw it the other way round and called Milliken's piece a "vile caricature" while describing "Castle Hyde" as a "well conceived and very spirited" song, a "celebrated composition" and a "general favourite". Here is again only the first verse, as quoted by Joyce: 
As I roved out on a summer's morning
Down by the banks of Blackwater side,
To view the groves and the meadows charming.
The pleasant garden of Castle Hyde;
'Tis there I heard the thrushes warbling,
The dove and partridge I now describe;
The lambkins sporting on ev'ry morning,
All to adorn sweet Castlehyde.
[...] 
Both of these songs were apparently not printed at the time of their writing. Only much later during the 19th century the lyrics were regularly published on broadsides in Ireland and England and it seems that they remained popular for a long time (see Broadside Ballads Online: "Castle Hyde" & "The Groves of Blarney").

The writer of "Castle Hyde" is of course not known. In an earlier publication in 1824 Croker had claimed it was a "drunken cobbler" (p. 129) while in 1888 Sparling in his Irish Minstrelsy (p. 504) noted that "a weaver named Barrett, about 1790" had created this text. But more interesting would be the original tune of this song. According to the story about Milliken it should have been the same as "The Groves of Blarney" even though it was later sung to others (see Joyce, p. 203). But thankfully Edward Bunting has collected a variant from a harper, most likely in 1792, which also shows that the song really existed at that time. It includes a refrain but the characteristic melodic motive at the start is somewhat obscured by passing notes and not easily discernible (reprinted in Audley, pp. 229-30).

There is one more unpublished version by Bunting, "collected in Ulster between 1805 and 1810" and wrongly notated in common time (reprinted in Audley, pp. 224-5). Another variant of the tune with that title was published in 1814 in Edward Fitzsimons' Irish Minstrelsy ("Oh shrive me father, or The Confession of Devorgilla", p. 41; SITM II, No. 5368). In 1816 George Thomson included a song called "The Kiss dear Maid, thy Lip has left", with words by Lord Byron and arranged by Beethoven, in the second volume of his Select Collection of Original Irish Airs (No. 37, pp. 89-90; SITM II, No. 5420). This tune, in common time and "communicated without a name by a friend", looks like it also belongs to this group. But none of the melodies represent a version of "Castle Hyde" that could have served as a precursor of "The Groves of Blarney". Of course this is not surprising. Musicians always introduced musical variations, especially as long as a tune was not yet codified in print. 

There is a fitting tune in the second edition of R. A. Smith's Irish Minstrel, published in 1828 ("Be mine the home", p. 10, here from SITM II, No. 5760), that looks exactly like it should look. In fact it is very similar to "The Groves of Blarney". But I wouldn't put too much trust in its authenticity. At that time Holden's collection had been available for 22 years, and Moore's "Last Rose" for 15 years. It is easily possible that it shows the influence of these two tune variants. Not at least Milliken's story had been published 5 years ago and Smith was surely aware of the song's history.

Both "Castle Hyde" and "Groves of Blarney" are also seen as belonging to a tune family around he song "Young Man's Dream" (see f. ex. Moffat, p. 285, p. 341, see Audley 2000, an excellent overview), which was known both in Scotland and in Ireland. The earliest versions appeared in the Scots Musical Museum in 1788: "Young Man's Dream" (II, No. 126, p. 131) and "I Dream'd I Lay" (II, No. 146, p. 153), the latter with words by Robert Burns (see Dick, No. 310, notes, p. 475). The first printed Irish variant can be found in Cooke's Selection of Twenty One Favorite Irish Airs (Never before Printed), published in Dublin in 1795 (p. 9, at UoP, Digital Library). Edward Bunting included one version in 1797 in his General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music (No. 17, p. 10) which, by the way, was used by Thomas Moore in the first volume of the Irish Melodies for his song "Oh! When that mild eye is beaming" (pp. 56-61). But these tunes are all not particularly helpful for a history of "Castle Hyde" and "The Groves of Blarney". Nor are possible precursors of this tune family like the different variants of "Ned of the Hill" (mentioned by Audley, p. 243-246). 

But interestingly both Fleischmann in his Sources of Traditional Irish Music (see SITM I, No. 1175, and references to No. 4510) and Olson (Early Irish Tune Title Index) point in another direction where we can find the most probable precursor of our tune. The 3rd volume of Scottish composer and publisher James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion, a "Favourite Collection of Scotch Tunes", includes a piece with the title "St. Martin's Church Yard" (London, c. 1751, p. 25) :

The relationship is most obvious when looking at the opening measures and compare them to those of "Groves of Blarney" and "'Tis The Last Rose Of Summer":

Olson (Early Irish Tune Title Index) notes that "St Martin's Church Yard" was "Oswald's business address, and the tune is undoubtedly his". John Purser (Notes to CPC, Vol. 3, p. 12) sees it as a "radically altered version" of "St. Martin's Lane", a tune from John Playford's Dancing Master (see here in 1709 edition, p. 197) but I have serious problems seeing a relationship between these two pieces. In fact he also admits that it "amounts to a recomposition and can be reasonably credited to" Oswald. 

How come parts of this piece end up in "The Groves of Blarney" and perhaps "Castle Hyde", more than four decades later? Oswald's Companion was a very popular tune collection and easily available for a very long time. Reprints were published even after his death. And of course a book like this was surely used by musicians of all kinds. 

Should we then regard James Oswald as the original writer of the tune that later became the one of Moore's "'Tis The last Rose of Summer"? Maybe not. I would not go that far. These melodies are of course not completely identical. But Oswald has created - or at least first published - this characteristic melodic motive, the major ingredient of the famous tune. The problem is only that we don't know how and when the melody was adopted in Ireland. It had started its life as a popular tune in London and only much later mutated into an "Irish" tune, perhaps when it was combined with elements of a precursor of "The Young Man's Dream" and therefore also became part of that particular tune family. In fact we can draw a direct line from "St. Martin's Church Yard" to "Groves of Blarney" and "'Tis The last Rose Of Summer".

Moore's song then served as the starting-point for a new line of tradition with its own off-springs. Other editors of Irish songbooks quickly made use of his variant. The first one was George Thomson in Edinburgh. He had already produced several volumes of his Select Collection of Scottish Airs (since 1793) as well as two books of Welsh tunes (1809/11) and at that time was busy working on an Irish collection, no doubt inspired by the great success of Moore's series. Thomson had hired Ludwig van Beethoven in Vienna to write the arrangements and in April 1814, very shortly after the publication of the 5th volume of the Irish Melodies he send him two of its highlights, not only "Groves of Blarney" but also the tune of "Minstrel Boy" (for the date see Cooper, pp. 22-3, 216)

In fact Thomson must have been a faithful admirer of Moore's works because he borrowed some more tunes from them. But the feeling was surely mutual. Not only was the concept of the Irish Melodies indebted to Mr. Thomson's Scottish collections. Moore had also lifted a considerable amount of tunes from these books, at least seven until 1813 (see Chinneide, pp. 118-23). And of course both used their borrowings without any acknowledgment of their sources, as it was common at that time. 

"Groves of Blarney" - like the tune of "Minstrel Boy" as well as others taken from the Irish Melodies - appeared in 1816 in the second volume of Thomson's Select Collection of Original Irish Airs (No. 33, pp. 79-80 ; see SITM II, No. 5416), arranged by Beethoven and with a new text by one William Smyth ("Sad and luckless was the season"). There are also some minor changes of the tune, no doubt produced by Thomson himself to make it look a little bit different from Moore's version and to suggest that this was new variant from a different source. Interestingly Beethoven later also wrote some instrumental variations for this tune that then were published in 1819 in Vienna (Six Themes Varies, op. 105, No. 4, at Beethoven-Haus, Bonn). For some reason here it was called "Air Ecossais". 

Some years later, in 1825, R. A. Smith included "Groves of Blarney" á la Moore in his Irish Minstrel, here with a new text by one Mr. Knox ("She left us when spring-time", p. 56). But neither Thomson's nor Smith's versions proved successful. It was Moore's song that became immensely successful, not only in Britain and the USA but also in Germany, and made this tune famous around the world. 

Literature: 
  • Brian Audley, The Provenance of the Londonderry Air, in: Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 125/2, 2000, pp. 205-247 
  • Veronica ní Chinnéide, The Sources of Moore's Melodies, in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 89, No. 2, 1959, pp. 109-134 
  • Barry Cooper, Beethoven's Folksong Settings. Chronology, Sources, Style, Oxford & New York 1994
  • Thomas Crofton Croker, Researches of the South of Ireland, Illustrative of The Scenery, Architectural Remains, and the Manners and Superstitions of the Peasantry. With an Appendix Containing a Private Narrative of the Rebellion of 1796, London, 1824 (available at the Internet Archive
  • Thomas Crofton Croker, The Popular Songs of Ireland. Collected and Edited, With Introductions and Notes, London, 1839 (at the Internet Archive
  • James C. Dick (ed.), The Songs of Robert Burns, London 1903 (available at The Internet Archive
  • James Cuthbert Hadden, "Milliken, Richard Alfred", in: Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 37, New York & London, 1894, p. 437 (at the Internet Archive
  • P. W. Joyce, Old Irish Folk Music And Songs. A Collection Of 842 Irish Airs And Songs, Hitherto Unpublished, Dublin 1909 (available at The Internet Archive)
  • Alfred Moffat, The Minstrelsy of Ireland. 200 Irish Songs Adapted To Their Traditional Airs, London 1898 (available at the Internet Archive
  • Bruce Olson, Early Irish Tune Title Index, 2001 
  • John Purser, Notes, The Caledonian Pocket Companion by James Oswald, Volume One (Books 1-6), CD Rom, Modern Edition by John & Barbara Purser, Nick Parkes, 2006 
  • [SITM=] Aloys Fleischmann (ed.), Sources Of Irish Traditional Music, C. 1600 - 1855, 2 Vols., New York & London 1998 
  • H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy: Being a Selection of Irish Songs, Lyrics and Ballads, London, 1888 (available at the Internet Archive)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Earl of Marischal And His Collection of International "National Airs" (1771)

In the first volume of Johann Gottfried Herder's Volkslieder (1778) we can find an introductory collection of "Zeugnisse über Volkslieder" with quotes from, among others, Montaigne, Joseph Addison, Luther, Agricola & Lessing (pp. 5-12). Particularly intriguing is one about a certain "Lord Marshall" who had collected national airs from "almost every nation under the sun" (p. 10): 
"Lord Marshall hatte sich eine Sammlung von Nazionalmelodien gemacht, von fast allen Völkern unter der Sonnen. Er hatte fast bei jedem Stück eine Anekdote. Er erzählte mir auch von einem Bergschotten, welcher allemal meinte, wenn er eine gewisse langsame Melodie spielen hörte".
As source is given the German translation of English musicologist Charles Burney's report about his legendary trip through Europe in the early 1770s (Vol. 3, pp. 85, 87, 88). At the moment I am interested in the history of comparative anthologies of national airs ("Volkslieder") in the 18th and 19th century and therefore this sounds very interesting. A little bit of research helped to identify the "Lord Marshall".

This was George Keith, the 10th Earl of Marischal (c. 1693-1778), an exiled Scottish soldier and diplomat in in service of the Prussian king. He had been involved in the Jacobite Rising in 1715 and had to leave Britain. Over the years he lived in Spain, but also in Russia, Venice and and other countries. In 1774 he moved to Prussia. 

Frederick II was particularly fond of him and he became part of the King's inner circle and also - as he was well-read and educated - member of the Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften. The King made him governor Neuchâtel in Switzerland where he met Rousseau with whom he became friends and with whom he spent many hours discussing. Even though the Earl was eventually pardoned by the British crown he didn't return home but preferred to live in Berlin, close to the King (see ADB 15, 1882, pp. 551-5, and also the article in the German Wikipedia which is very helpful; see also Varnhagen von Ense, 1873, pp. 1-165, about his brother James [Jakob] Keith).

Charles Burney visited him in 1771 in his house in Berlin and was clearly very impressed by this old soldier. In the 2nd volume of the Journal of his tour, The Present State of Music in Germany, The Netherlands, and United Provinces, we can find the report about the Earl and his collection of national music (1773, here 2nd ed., London, 1775, pp. 122-3): 
"On this occasion, he was very pleasant upon himself: here ensued a discussion of Scots music, and Erse poetry; after which his lordship said, ' but lest you should think me to insensible to the power of sound, I must tell you, that I have made a collection of national tunes of almost all of the countries on the globe, which I believe I can shew you.' After a search, made by himself, the book in which these tunes were written, was found, and I was made to sing the whole collection through, without an instrument; during which time, he had an anecdote for every tune. When I had done, his lordship kindly wrote down a list of all such tunes as had pleased me most by their odditiy and originality, of which he promised me copies, and then ordered a Scots piper, one of his domestics, to play to me some Spanish and Scots tunes, which were not in the collection; 'but play them in the garden, says he, for these fine Italianised folks cannot bear our rude music near their delicate ears.'"
That sounds all very fascinating, not only the idea of a Scottish piper in Berlin in 1771 but also the fact that already at that time somebody had collected on his travels through Europe local music pieces and created what must have been the very first collection of international national airs. This was a couple of years before Herder's international "Volkslieder" - with only lyrics but no tunes, of course - and 20 years before the Abbé Vogler's Polymelos ou Caractères de Musique de differentes Nations, the first published collection of foreign national tunes (see this text in my blog). I only wonder what has happened to the Earl's book of national airs. One may assume that it has been lost and we will never know what exactly he had collected. 

Literature:
  • Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in Germany, The Netherlands, and United Provinces. Or, The Journal of a Tour through those Countries, undertaken to collect Materials for A General History of Music. In Two Volumes. Vol. II, London, 1773 (2nd ed., London, 1775, available at the Internet Archive)
  • [Charles Burney] Carl Burney's der Musik Doctors Tagebuch seiner musikalischen Reisen. Dritter Band. Durch Böhmen, Sachsen, Brandenburg, Hamburg und Holland. Aus dem Englischen übersetzt [von Christoph Daniel Ebeling]. Mit einigen Zusätzen und Anmerkungen zum zweyten und dritten Bande, Hamburg, 1773 (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Johann Gottfried Herder, Volkslieder, Erster Theil, Weygand, Leipzig, 1778 (available at Google Books)
  • A. D. Schaefer, Keith, George, in: ADB 15, 1882, pp. 551-5 (at wikisource & BSt-DS)
  • Karl August Varnhagen von Ense, Biographische Denkmale, 7. Teil, 3.vermehrte Auflage, Brockhaus, Leipzig, 1873 (available at the Internet Archive)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Between Burns & Moore: Friedrich Silcher's German Version of "My Love's Like A Red, Red Rose" (1841)


I. 
"My Luve's like a red, red rose" is surely one of the most popular songs of Robert Burns. It was first published in 1794 in Pietro Urbani's A Selection of Scots Songs (Vol. 2, pp. 16-17) and is still sung and performed today. Its history has been discussed thoroughly (see f. ex.: Graham 1848, pp. 28-9; Dick 1903, No. 152, p. 137, notes, pp. 403-4, Low 1993, pp. 10-12; McCue 2012; The Burns Encyclopedia: Urbani, Pietro (1749 — 1816); O My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose, in: Editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century, Online Exhibitions). Apparently Burns had heard this song from a "country girl" (Low, p. 11) and at least some lines are known from other, older songs. 
O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' 'twere ten thousand mile!
Of course this song was also known in Germany and I will discuss here one particular version, the one published in 1841 in the 4th booklet of Friedrich Silcher's collection Ausländische Volksmelodien (No. 7, pp. 10-11): 
Dem roten Röslein gleicht mein Lieb,
Im Junimond erblüht;
Mein Lieb ist eine Melodie,
Vor der die Seele glüht.

Wie schön du bist, geliebte Maid!
Wie wird das Herz mir schwer,
Und lieben wird's dich immerdar,
Bis trocken Strom und Meer!

Und würden trocken Strom und Meer,
Und schmölzen Fels und Stein:
Ich würde dennoch lebenslang
Dir Herz und Seele weih'n!

Und, holdes Liebchen, lebe wohl!
Leb' wohl, du süsse Maid!
Bald kehr' ich wieder, wär' ich auch
Zehntausend Meilen weit. 
Silcher (1789-1860), music director at the university of Tübingen, composer, arranger, editor, music educator and choirmaster, was one of the most important promoters of the "Volkslied"-genre at that time. Many of the songs published by him are known and sung until today and also a considerable amount of the pieces in this collection of foreign national airs - published in four parts between 1835 and 1841 - became part of the common repertoire of "Volkslieder". 

He had already used one song of Burns, "My Heart's in the Highlands", in Vol. 2 (1837, No. 1, p. 1) and it is no wonder that he tried out another one in the 4th booklet. In fact at that time Burns' works were discovered in Germany and he would become - many years after his death - one of the most popular foreign poets (see Selle 1981). During these years several collections of translations appeared. The first one was poet Ferdinand Freiligrath who offered "Einige Lieder von Robert Burns" in the Blätter zur Kunde der Literatur des Auslandes (No. 2, 13.2.1836, pp. 5-6 & No. 4, 20.2.1836, pp. 13-14), among them "Mein Lieb ist eine rothe Ros'" (No. 3, reprinted in Gedichte, 1838, p. 440). 

At the same time Philipp Kaufmann was busy with his translations. Some of them were used by composer Friedrich W. Jähns already in 1836 in his collection Schottische Lieder und Gesänge, mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte. Gedichtet von Robert Burns, Op. 21 (2 Vols, Cranz, Berlin), including "Mein Schatz ist eine rothe Ros'" (II, No. 4, pp. 8-9). Kaufmann's Gedichte von Robert Burns appeared as a book only three years later (Cotta, Stuttgart & Tübingen, 1839, see p. 30). The following year two more collections of translations came out: Wilhelm Gerhard's Robert Burns' Gedichte (Barth, Leipzig, 1840; No. 122, p. 209: "Rothes Röslein") and Lieder und Balladen des Schotten Robert Burns by Heinrich Julius Heintze (Westermann, Braunschweig, 1849; p. 178: "Mein Liebchen gleicht dem Röslein roth"). 

For his German version of "My Heart's in the Highlands" Silcher had selected the translation by Ferdinand Freiligrath but in this case he borrowed the one by Wilhelm Gerhard. I have written a little bit more about Gerhard (1780-1858) in my history of "Robin Adair" in Germany (Chapter 2, JustAnotherTune) so I won't repeat it here. Today he is more or less forgotten but at that time he was among the most important translators and mediators of foreign songs and poetry in Germany. His translations of Burns' songs were particularly popular among composers, first and foremost Robert Schumann, who loved to set them to new music. Today many of his texts sound hopelessly outdated but I assume they already looked old-fashioned when they were first published and perhaps this was what he had intended. 

II. 
More interesting is the tune used by Silcher for his version. He only described it as "Irische Melodie" but as usual "forgot" to name his source. It is none of the melodies associated with this song in the original British publications. Composer Pietro Urbani had written a new one for the version included in 1794 in his Selection of Scots Songs

Two years later the song appeared in the Scots Musical Museum (Vol. 5, Nos. 402-3, pp. 414-6), but with two different tunes: "Major Graham" by Niel Gow and one called "Mary Queen of Scots". The former - first published by Gow in his Collection of Strathspey Reels (Edinburgh, 1784, p. 7) - was the one Burns himself used with his song. But one can not say that his wish was complied with. 

George Thomson included "O my love's like a red rose" in the 4th Set of his Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs (here in Vol. 2 of the new edition, 1801, No. 89) and he combined it with "Wishaw's Favourite", a tune written by one Mr. Marshall. Interestingly Thomson also noted that the words were "from a MS. in the editor's possession" and in the Index the author is given as "unknown". It seems that he really regarded Burns only as the collector, not the writer of this song. 22 years later R. A. Smith used still another tune in his Scotish Minstrel (Vol. 3, p. 85): "Low down in the broom" is the one that is until today usually associated with this song. 

Silcher used none of these four different melodies for his version. The problem was that at that time not many original Scottish tunes were available in Germany, and even less so those of Burns' songs. The authoritative British collections - like the Scots Musical Museum, Thomson's publicationa and Smith's Scotish Minstrel - were not that easy to get. Only few copies if these books were circulating among the fortunate few and apparently they hadn't yet reached the town of Tübingen. 

But Silcher had access to Thomas Moore's works, both the Irish Melodies and the Popular National Airs. In fact most of the tunes in his collection - nearly two third - were borrowed from Moore's publications. He had already taken one from the National Airs for his version of "My Heart's in the Highlands" in Vol. 2 and here he helped himself with one from the Irish Melodies. It was "My Lodging is on the cold Ground", the tune Moore had used for "Believe me, if all those endearing young Charms" (in Vol. 2, 1807, pp. 113-6): 


This is also a melody with a very interesting history. Moore's source may have been Thomson's collection with which he was of course familiar (see Chinneide, p. 120). We can find it there also in the 4th Set, 1799 (here in Vol. 2, 1801, No. 76) where Thomson had combined it with a song by Burns, "Farewell thou fair day", even though - as usual - Burns himself had preferred another tune (see Dick, No. 272, p. 254, notes, pp. 458-9; Scots Musical Museum 4, 1792, No. 385, p. 399). 

"My Lodging is on the cold ground" was at that time not particularly old (see Olson, Early Irish Tune Title Index). By all accounts it was first printed in 1775 in a collection published in London called Vocal Music: Or The Songster's Companion. Containing A new and choice Collection Of The Greatest Variety Of Songs, Cantatas, &c (pp. 18-9; available at IMSLP). 

Here it was described as "A favourite mad song". Only the text used with the tune was a little bit older:
My lodging is on the cold ground,
And very hard is my fare;
But that which grieves me more, love,
Is the coldness of my dear!
Yet still he cry'd, Turn, love,
I pray thee, love, turn to me;
For thou art the only girl, love,
That is adored by me!
[...] 
These words were originally part of a comedy with music with the title The Rivals by William D'Avenant, first performed in 1664, possibly earlier. A contemporary observer described it as one of "several wild and mad songs" (see Chappell 1859, pp. 525-30, p. 785; London Stage 1, p. 83; D'Avenant, Dramatic Works 5, p. 282). A "mad song" was a particular type of song, one "of extravagant nature sung by someone who has become insane through love" (Fuld 1995, p. 138, n. 2). 

On stage this text was sung to a tune said to have been written by composer Matthew Locke which was then also included in a couple of contemporary collections like the Dancing Master and Apollos's Banquet either as "On the cold ground" or "I prithee, love, turn to me" (see also SITM I, No. 64, p. 14). Some ballads from that era also referred to a tune with these titles (see EBBA, the first one listed may be dated too early). Much later Robert Burns also used the melody for one of his songs, "Behold, my love, how green the groves" (see Dick, No. 100, p. 94, notes, p. 384). 

It is not clear why D'Avenant's original text was supplied with a new tune in the 1770s. This melody's origin is not known. It may be related to a "Gigg" in James Oswald's Caledonian Pocket Companion (Vol. 2, 1745, p. 36, see the references in SITM 1, No. 1164, p. 221, No. 2048, p. 395) but I am not sure about that. But after the first known publication in the Songster's Companion it quickly spread among editors of songbooks and was regularly republished and also used for new songs. We find the tune for example in James Aird's Selection Of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs. Adapted for the Fife, Violin or German Flute (Vol. 1, c. 1778, p. 41) and in The Hibernian Muse. A Collection of Irish Airs (c. 1790, No. XLV, p. 28), in the latter with the title "An Irish Mad Song". In fact here it was for the first time described as "Irish". 

The tune was also included in the Scots Musical Museum (Vol 3, 1790, No. 267, p. 276-7), here with two sets of lyrics. It is not clear how old these were but at least by adding these texts publisher Johnson implicitly claimed it as Scottish. David Sime in his Edinburgh Musical Miscellany (Vol. 2, 1793, No. LIX, p. 146-7) again used the old words. After the turn of the century the tune remained popular and found a place in more collections of all kinds. 

At that time there was a certain obsession with classifying songs after their supposed national origin even if this was usually difficult or impossible to prove. In practice songs were often enough simply adopted for one or more national repertoires. This particular tune can be found in English, Scottish and Irish collections. In the end it was Thomas Moore who really defined the melody as "Irish" by using it for one of his most popular songs and that way it also came to Germany. Moore had given it its stamp of "authenticity" and for Silcher this was therefore an "Irish Melody". Why he then used the tune for a Scottish song is another question. 

III. 
A considerable amount of songs from Silcher's Ausländischen Volksmelodien became very popular and later regularly appeared in other songbooks. But this was not the case with his version of Burns' "Red, red rose". There were very few reprints and it never became part of the popular singing tradition. I found this piece only in one later songbook, Wilhelm Meyer's Volks-Liederbuch. Auserlesene ältere und neuere Volkslieder und Nationalgesänge des In- und Auslandes mit ihren eigenthümlichen Sangweisen (1873, No. 83, p. 90-1), here in a four-part arrangement for male choirs. O. L. Lange's Ausländischer Liederschatz (1886 , No. 30, p. 38) includes the same tune, but a different translation. He even added an English text, not Burns' original lyrics but somewhat strangely some verses of "My Lodging is on the cold ground". 

Otherwise this song became more popular in Germany as a Lied, with new tunes written by a number of more or less notable composers. I have already mentioned Friedrich-Wilhelm Jähns who had been the first to set a translated text to new music in 1836. Heinrich Marschner offered a new setting in 1839, in Lieder nach Robert Burns von F. Freiligrath für eine Sopran oder Tenorstimme mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte, Op. 103 (No. 7, p. 14) as did Alexander Fesca in 1842 in Drei Lieder von Robert Burns in Musik gesetzt für eine Sopran- oder Tenorstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, op. 21 (No. 2). 

The most popular and most often reprinted new tune was surely Robert Schumann's, written in 1840, immediately after the publication of Wilhelm Gerhard's book of translations but published only in 1849 (in: Lieder und Gesänge für eine Singstimme, Op. 27, No. 2). His version was later even included in popular songbooks like F. L. Schubert's Concordia. Anthologie classischer Volkslieder für Pianoforte und Gesang (Vol. 2, 1861, No. 393, p. 58). All in all I have found nearly 40 relevant publications listed in Hofmeisters Monatsberichten until 1900. That is quite a lot - even though not as much new settings as for "My Heart's in the Highlands", the most popular song by Burns in Germany - and would be worth further investigation. Bur that's another story. 

Literature: 
  • William Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Time. A Collection of Ancient Songs, Ballads, and Dance Tunes, Illustrative of the National Music of England, Vol. II, London, n. d. [1859] (available at the Internet Archive
  • Veronica ní Chinnéide, The Sources of Moore's Melodies, in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 89, No. 2 (1959), pp. 109-134 
  • William D'Avenant, The Rivals. A Comedy (1668), in: The Dramatic Works of William D'Avenant, Vol. 5, Edinburgh & London, 1872, pp. 213-293 
  • James C. Dick, The Songs of Robert Burns, London 1903 (available at The Internet Archive
  • James Fuld, The Book Of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular And Folk, Fourth Edition, Revised And Enlarged, Mineola, NY 1995 
  • George Farquhar Graham, The Songs of Scotland adapted to their Appropriate Melodies, Vol. 2, Edinburgh, 1848 (available at the Internet Archive
  • [Hofmeisters Monatsberichte =] Musikalisch-literarischer Monatsbericht neuer Musikalien, musikalischer Schriften und Abbildungen, Hofmeister, Leipzig 1829ff (online available at Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; searchable database: Hofmeister XIX (Royal Holloway, University Of London) 
  • The London Stage 1660 - 1800. A Calendar Of Plays, Entertainments & Afterpieces Together With Casts, Box-Receipts And Contemporary Comment, Part I: 1660-1700, ed. by William van Lennep, Carbondale, 1965 (available at HathiTrust
  • Donald A. Low (ed.), The Songs of Robert Burns, London 1993 
  • Kirsteen McCue, "O My Luve's Like a Red, Red Rose": Does Burns's Melody Really Matter,", in: Studies in Scottish Literature 37, 2012, pp. 68–82 (online available at Scholarcommons
  • Bruce Olson, Early Irish Tune Title Index [2003] 
  • Rosemary Anne Selle, The Parritch and the Partridge: The Reception of Robert Burns in Germany. A History, 2 Vols, Phil. Diss., Heidelberg 1981 (now available as: 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition, Frankfurt/M. 2013) 
  • [SITM =] Aloys Fleischmann (ed.), Sources Of Irish Traditional Music, C. 1600 - 1855, 2 Vols., New York & London 1998

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thomas Moore's "Scottish" Songs

I am at the moment quite busy with Friedrich Silcher's collection Ausländische Volksmelodien, published in 4 booklets between 1835 and 1841 (available at the Internet Archive; see also this text in my blog). This was the most successful and influential German anthology of what was regarded at that time as foreign national airs ("Volkslieder" or "National-Lieder") and remained on the market in several new editions until well into the 20th century. A considerable number of these songs also became part of the common song repertoire in Germany. They reappeared in collections for schools, choirs and domestic music making and some are even still performed today.

As already noted Silcher's most important source were two of Thomas Moore's publications, the Irish Melodies (10 Vols., 1808-34) and especially the Popular National Airs (6 Vols., 1818-28; for more about these works, see here in this blog) that served as a kind of backbone. 25 of the 40 tunes were borrowed from Moore and included either with a translation of the original text or with new lyrics from other sources. In some way this was an early inofficial German edition of Moore's songs. 

What most intrigued me were the Scottish songs in the Popular National Airs, of which Silcher used three. Apparently he had - unlike other editors from that era - no access to original collections from Scotland like the Scots Musical Museum, George Thomson's works or R. A. Smith's Scotish Minstrel and therefore he had to rely on what was offered by Moore. In Vol. 4 (1823; see Glover ed., 1860, pp. 289-291) he found "Here Sleeps The Bard". Thomas Moore had written new words to what he called a "Highland Air". I always wondered if this song was intended as some kind of tribute to Robert Burns :
Here sleeps the Bard who knew so well
All the sweet windings of Apollo's shell,
Whether its music rolled like torrents near,
Or died, like distant streamlets, on the ear.

Sleep, mute bard! alike unheeded now.
The storm and zephyr sweep thy lifeless brow;--
That storm, whose rush is like thy martial lay;
That breeze which, like thy love-song, dies away!
Silcher used it as the opening song of his collection (Heft 1, 1835, No. 1, p. 2) with a translation by Swabian poet Hermann Kurz:
Stumm schläft der Sänger, dessen Ohr
Gelauschet hat an and´rer Welten Thor;
Ein naher Waldstrom brauste sein Gesang,
Und säuselt auch wie ferner Quellen Klang.

Du schlummerst stille, schlummerst leicht,
Wann über dich der Sturm und Zephir streicht,
Der Sturm, der dir den Schlachtgesang durchdröhnt,
Der Hauch, der sanft im Lied der Liebe tönt.
He also wrote an arrangement for four male voices (publ. posth. in Silcher, Volkslieder, 1891, 1902, No. 150, pp. 274-5). This song was clearly one of his favourites: "Von einem großen Chor gesungen, macht die Musik eine außerordentliche Wirkung" (Bopp, p. 138). It was even performed at a memorial concert for him after his death (Bopp, p. 163). Not at least this piece became a standard for Männergesangvereine. It was particularly suitable for festive events and funerals. We can find it in numerous songbooks (see for example the list at DeutschesLied.com) and it is still sung today by some of the more old-fashioned male choirs. One may say that it was for a long time the most popular "Scottish" song in Germany. 

In Vol. 1 of the Popular National Airs (1818, pp. 51-3) Thomas Moore introduced "Oft, In The Stilly Night", another song with a new text written to a "Scotch Air":
Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere Slumber's chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
Of other days around me;
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood's years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimmed and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere Slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
When I remember all
The friends, so link'd together,
I've seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one,
Who treads alone,
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere Slumber's chain has bound me,
Sad Memory brings the light
Of other days around me.
This beautiful song was also used by Silcher, again with a translation by Hermann Kurz (Heft 2, 1837, No. 7, pp. 10-1; see also the arrangement for four voices in Volkslieder, 1891, 1902, No. 158, pp. 291-3):
Oft in der stillen Nacht,
Eh' Schlummer band die Glieder,
Bring' vor'ger Tage Pracht,
Mir süss Erinnern wieder,
Bringt Freud und Leid
Der Jugendzeit,
Der Liebesworte Feuer,
Der Augen Glüh'n,
Jetzt längst dahin,
Herz, das brach, einst teuer!
So bringt in stiller Nacht,
Eh' Schlummer band die Glieder,
Mir vor'ger Tage Pracht
Ein herb Erinnern wieder.

Der Freude denk' ich da,
So innig einst gesellet,
Die ich gleich Herbstlaub sah
Vom Tod um mich gefället,
Mir ist's zu Sinn,
Als ständ' ich drin
In öder Festeshalle,
Die Fackeln verglüht,
Die Kränze verblüht,
Gefloh'n die Andern alle!
So bringt in stiller Nacht,
Eh' Schlummer band die Glieder,
Mir vor'ger Tage Pracht
Ein herb Erinnern wieder.
For some reason this piece was not particularly successful in Germany. There were only very few reprints in later years (see f. ex. Meyer, Volks-Liederbuch, 1873, No. 100, pp. 106-7; Gervinus, Volksliederbuch, 1896, No. 62, pp. 68-9). 

Silcher also borrowed the "Scotch Air" of "Oh! Guard Our Affection" (Popular National Airs V, 1826; see Glover ed., 1860, pp. 295-7):
Oh! guard our affection, and ne'er let it feel
The blight, which this world o'er the warmest will steal.
While the faith of all round us is fading or past,
Let our truth, at least, keep its bloom to the last.

It is safer for Love to be watchful and weep,
As he us'd in his prime, than go smiling to sleep.
For death on his slumber, cold death follows fast,
White the love that is wakeful lives on to the last.

And tho', as Time gathers his clouds o'er our head,
A shade, somewhat darker, o'er life they may spread;
Yet transparent, at least, be the shadow they cast,
So that Love's soften'd light may shine thro' to the last.
But interestingly in this case he only took the tune which he then used for "Mein Herz ist im Hochland", Ferdinand Freiligrath's translation of Robert Burns' "My Heart's in the Highlands" (Heft 2, 1837, No. 1, p. 1):


At this time not much of Burns' works was known in Germany. Freiligrath was a kind of pioneer in this respect. His second set of translations - including this one - appeared on February 20th, 1836 in the Blätter zur Kunde der Literatur des Auslandes (Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 13-4, at Google Books; see Selle, pp. 60-2). Silcher happened to be among the first who set one of these texts to music. But the original tune - the one published in 1790 in the third volume of the Scots Musical Museum (No. 259, p. 268, available at the Internet Archive), which, by the way, never made it to Germany - was not available to him and he had to combine the text with another Scottish melody. For whatever reason he decided for this one from Moore's collection. It fact it worked quite well. And as an additional benefit the German music fans got Burns and Moore together in one song.

"Mein Herz ist im Hochland" became one of the most popular German "Volkslieder". It was recycled for more than a century in numerous songbooks but later editors preferred to use other tunes. Silcher's rarely appeared again. Interestingly it can be found in some songbooks for schools published after the turn of the century and there it was combined with Burns' original text and described as a "Scotch Bagpipe tune" (see Irmer 1911, p. 66, Simon/Stockhaus 1912, p. 77). Perhaps these editors thought it was the original tune:


In fact in these first two volumes of Silcher's Ausländischen Volksmelodien the Scottish music was represented exclusively by Thomas Moore. Only in Vol. 3 he would include a Scottish tune from another source, "The Bush aboon Traquair", which was combined with a poem by Friedrich Rückert ("Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust", No. 6, pp. 8-9).

But there is another question that should be raised. I really wonder where Mr. Moore found these three tunes which he sold as "Scottish". I have checked some - not all, of course - relevant collections of Scottish tunes and songs but I haven't yet come across a possible source for any of them. For his Irish Melodies we know most of the sources (see Chinnéide 1959) but as far as I know nobody has ever attempted a similar work for the Popular National Airs. I have also been looking around a little bit for the other tunes borrowed by Silcher, those described as "Venetian", "Italian", "Spanish", "Russian" and the more, but I haven't yet seen them in other earlier collections. So either Moore did really well hiding his sources or one may ask what's the chance that he or his musical partners - Sir John Stevenson respectively Henry Rowley Bishop - wrote a considerable part of them themselves? 

Literature:

Moore & Silcher:
  • [Moore, Popular National Airs] A Selection of Popular National Airs with Symphonies and Accompaniments by Sir John Stevenson MusDoc [Henry R. Bishop]. The Words by Thomas Moore, Esq., 6 Volumes, J. Power, London, 1818-1828 (Vol. 1-3 available at BStB-DS: 4 Mus.pr. 35243-(1-3) [click on Einzelbände]; also available at Google Books: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 )
  • Charles W. Glover (ed.), National Airs, with Words by Thomas Moore, Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, London, 1860 (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Friedrich Silcher, Ausländische Volksmelodien, mit deutschem, zum Theil aus dem Englischen etc. übertragenem Text, gesammelt und für eine oder zwei Singstimmen mit Begleitung des Pianoforte und der Guitarre gesetzt, 4 Hefte, Fues, Tübingen, 1835-1841 (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Friedrich Silcher, Volkslieder, gesammelt und für vier Männerstimmen gesetzt. Nebst einem Anhang mit Trauerliedern. Neue Ausgabe. 5. und 6. Tausend, H. Laupp, Tübingen, 1902 (first published 1891; available at the Internet Archive)
Other Songbooks:
  • Victorie Gervinus, Volksliederbuch. 80 Volkslieder (deutsche, dänische, englische, französische, hebräische, indische, irische, italienische, maurische, persische, portugiesische, schottische, schwedische, spanische, ungarische, wälisische) mit deutschem Text und Klavierbegleitung, Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, Brüssel & New York, n. d. [1896] (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Karl Irmer, Sammlung französischer und englischer Lieder für den Schulgebrauch. 2. Auflage (3.-5. Tausend), N. G. Elwertsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Marburg, 1911 (available at the Internet Archive)
  • Wilhelm Meyer, Volks-Liederbuch. Auserlesene ältere und neuere Volkslieder und Nationalgesänge des In- und Auslandes mit ihren eigenthümlichen Sangweisen. Für den vierstimmigen Männerchor, Hahn'sche Hofbuchhandlung, Hannover, 1873 (available at the Internet Archive)
  • F. Simon & J. Stockhaus, Französische und Englische Volkslieder für den Schulgebrauch. Ergänzung zu Stockhaus "Der Schulgesang", Moritz Diesterweg, Frankfurt am Main, 1912 (available at the Internet Archive)
Other Literature
  • August Bopp, Friedrich Silcher, Stuttgart, 1916
  • Veronica ní Chinnéide, The Sources of Moore's Melodies, in: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Vol. 89, No. 2, 1959, pp. 109-134
  • Rosemary Anne Selle, The Parritch and the Partridge: The Reception of Robert Burns in Germany. A History, 2 Vols, Phil. Diss., Heidelberg 1981 (now available as: 2nd Revised and Augmented Edition, Frankfurt/M., 2013)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"A Land That's Free..." - Irving Berlin's "Russian Lullaby"

One of the most touching and impressive songs in Irving Berlin's oeuvre is "Russian Lullaby", written in 1927 and first performed by Douglas Stanbury at the opening of Samuel Rothafels Roxy Theatre in New York on March 11th 1927 (Kimball, p. 251). It became one of the most popular hits of that year and one of the most often performed songs of the late 20s and early 30s (NYT 8.10.1933):
  • mp3: Roger Wolfe Kahn & His Orchestra, Henry Garden, voc, "Russian Lullaby" (1927)
Since then the song has been recorded - often as an instrumental - by numerous artists. Jerry Garcia has introduced it to Rock-Music audiences. He had learned "Russian Lullaby" from a recording by Oscar Aleman. It was included on his second solo-LP Compliments (Round RX 102, 1974) and became a staple of his live shows. He also recorded it with David Grisman in 1991 (David Grisman & Jerry Garcia, Acoustic Disc ACD 2).

"Russian Lullaby" consists of a verse in D-major (16 bars) and a refrain of 32 bars in d-minor:
[verse]
Where the dreamy Volga flows
There's a lonely Russian Rose

Gazing tenderly
Down upon her knee
Where a baby's brown eyes glisten
Listen


[refrain]
Ev'ry night you'll hear her croon
A Russian lullaby
Just a little plaintive tune
When baby starts to cry
Rock-a-bye my baby
Somewhere there may be
A land that's free for you and me
And a Russian lullaby
The verse has been left out in nearly all recordings I know. The minimalist lyrics only hint at the grim historical and political background. But this minimalism serves the song's purposes perfectly. It's neither an abstract political treatise nor useless propaganda. The whole story with its many facets is condensed to the touching image a lonesome mother with her baby. The writer doesn't even tell his listeners why the woman and her baby are alone and what had happened to her man.

In fact there is a lot of history behind these few lines. On one level the song refers to Czarist Russia and reflects the collective life history of the many immigrants who - like Berlin himself - had come to the USA to escape oppression and find a "land that's free". It may also have been intended as a comment on Bolshevist Russia. Lawrence Bergreen calls it a "quiet protest against repression in the Soviet Union" (p. 275, see also Freedland, p. 97). 

The song also reads like a critical remark to the end of immigration from Eastern Europe to the USA since the National Origins Act (1924). The words "somewhere there may be [...]" win a special poignancy in this context as they were really many people for whom the gates of the "land that's free" had been closed. Already in 1925 Berlin had written the much less successful "Don't Send Me Back To Petrograd", a song protesting the treatment of immigrants:
[...]
I want to be
In the land of the free and settle down.
The Liberty Statue down the bay
Is looking right at you and seems to say,
"Oh! Don't send her back"
[...]
The year 1926 had also seen a massive fundraising effort - the United Campaign for Eastern European Relief - for the impoverished and persecuted Eastern European Jews (see f.ex. NYT 26.4.1926) that tried to bring the fate of those left behind back into the public conscience. Berlin had given both money and his name (see NYT, 4.6.1926) to this cause.

The song is conceived as a lullaby. Berlin alludes to two well-known popular songs. The first one is James Royce Shannon's "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)" (1913):
Over in Killarney,
Many years ago,
Me Mither sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low

Just a simple little ditty,
In a good old Irish way
[...]
The other one is "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby (With A Dixie Melody)" (Young/Lewis/Schwartz, 1918), a great hit for Al Jolson:
Rock-a-bye your Baby with a Dixie melody;
When you croon, croon a tune from the heart of Dixie
This was a typical "Mammy"-song, a very popular genre at that time and it seems to me that Berlin is deliberately debunking the cliches of these kind of songs and of the nostalgic lullaby in general. "Russian Lullaby" is not about someone longing back to the fabled homeland of his youth. It's about someone who wants to get out. Berlin's song reads like an answer to the second verse of "Rock-A-Bye You Baby":
Wonder why I went away;
What a fool I've been;
In contrast Berlin explains very explicitly why people want to leave their home! The only thing that will be left of this old homeland - a place they surely don't want to return to - will be the lullaby.

The melody of the refrain is loosely based on the theme from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake (see Gottlieb, p. 75/76). This gives the song an appropriate Russian flavor in line with the musical exoticism prevalent at that time. Berlin turns it into a syncopated waltz by using this rhythmical motif for the most of the refrain's melody:
This is a device he had also used for his immensely popular songs of lost love like "What'll I Do", "All Alone" and "Remember". "Much of the lyrical artfulness of Berlin's [ballads] stems from his subtle fragmentation and juxtaposition of words against music " (Furia, Poets, p. 55f). By setting this ragged melody line against the waltz rhythm he is breaking up the verbal phrases into repetitive fragments and creates an atmosphere of loneliness, isolation, emptiness and monotony. It's like depicting someone sitting in a prison cell who is waiting to be set free. 
 Ev-
'Ry night
You'll hear
Her croon
A Russ-
Ian Lul-
Laby
The 32 bars of the refrain are not organized along the lines of the "standard" AABA-form. Instead every strain sounds distincively different. The first eight bars are in d-minor and start on the tonic note. A descending chromatic bass line serves as a counterpoint to the ragged melody line. The word "night" is set to an augmented chord to give an idea of unrest. The second eight bars start a third higher, modulate to F-major and are again underlined by a descending chromatic bass line. The word "starts" is given a slightly dissonant sound by using a g# instead of a g. The next phrase starts another third higher and modulates for four bars to A-major and then the song returns slowly back to the starting point. Berlin uses half tone intervals for the key lines land/that's/free and you/and/me. This careful use of chromatic notes in an otherwise predominantly diatonic melody gives these words even more poignancy.

Additional Resources:
Literature:
  • Laurence Bergreen, As Thousands Cheer, The Life Of Irving Berlin, New York 1996 (1990)
  • Robert Kimball & Linda Emmet (ed.), The Complete Lyrics Of Irving Berlin, New York 2000
  • Michael Freedland, Irving Berlin, New York 1978 (1974)
  • Jake Gottlieb, Funny, It Doesn't Sound Jewish. How Yiddish Songs and Synagogue Melodies Influenced Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, And Hollywood, New York 2004
  • Philip Furia, Poets Of Tin Pan Alley. A History Of America’s great Lyricists, New York 1990