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

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Some Early Song Collections from Denmark & Norway - What is available online?

Recently I was researching some Danish and Norwegian tunes that I had found in German songbooks. Therefore I had to make myself familiar with the most important early collections of "folk-songs" from these two countries. Here is a little overview with links to the most useful digital resources. This is mostly about books including tunes, not collections of only texts. 

Interestingly the earliest examples of Scandinavian "folk tunes" can be found in a French publication:
  • Jean-Benjamin de Laborde, Essai Sur La Musique Ancienne Et Moderne, Tome Second. Livre Troisieme. Abrégé d'un Traité de Composition, Paris, 1780 (available at the Internet Archive)
This massive Essai was of course one of the most important musicological publications of the 18th century. One chapter in Book 4 is dedicated to the "Chansons du Danmark, de la Norvege & de l'Islande" (pp. 397-418). Of course Laborde hadn't made a field trip to Scandinavia. His informant was C. F. Jacobi, at that time secretary of the Kongelige Videnskabers Selskab in Copenhagen, who sent him an interesting collection of tunes and songs from these countries.

In case of Denmark I have to mention one very early important text collection: Anders Sørensen Vedel's Et hundrede udvalde Danske Viser, first published in 1591 and then updated and expanded by Peter Syv in 1695 (200 Viser og Konger, Kemper og Andre, a later reprint, 1739, is available at Google Books and the Internet Archive). Vedel's and Syv's work was a starting-point and source for all later editors.

In 1810 literature historian Knut Lyne Rahbek compiled a little book with the title Danske og Norske Historiske Mindesange (available at KBK). In the following years he then put together and published with two other scholars the first comprehensive modern collection of old Danish songs. 
  • Werner H. Abrahamson, Rasmus Nyerup & K. L. Rahbek, Udvalgte Danske Viser fra Middelalderen; efter A. S. Vedels og P. Syvs trykte Udgaver og efter handskrevne Samlingar undgivne paa ny, 5 Vols., Schultz, København, 1812-1814 (at BStB-DS: 10049001 P.o.rel. 4820-1(-5) )
Thankfully Vol. 5 included a selection of tunes (pp. XVII-LXXXVIII). This edition was also discussed outside of Denmark, for example in an interesting and detailed article about Alte Volksmelodien des Nordens in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung (Vol. 18, 1816, pp. 594-599, pp. 613-619, also Beylage No. 6, No. 7). Collections of Danish songs were also published both in Germany and in England:
  • Danish And Norwegian Melodies. Selected by A. Andersen Feldborg, of the University of Copenhagen, Harmonized and Arranged with Additional Symphonies and Accompaniments for the Piano-Forte, by C. Stokes. The Poetry Translated by William Sidney Walker of Trinity College, Cambridge, Chappell & Co., London, 1815 (at IMSLP)
  • Friedrich L. A. Kunzen, Auswahl der vorzüglichsten altdänischen Volksmelodien und Heldenlieder mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, Wenzler, Kopenhagen, n. d. [1818] (at IMSLP)
Nyerup and Rahbek were the key figures of the first "Folk revival". Later their work was of course eclipsed and overshadowed by Svend Grundtvig. The first volume of his great collection Danmarks gamle Folkeviser appeared in 1853. But he only published the texts but no tunes. More relevant for the musical side of this genre became A. P. Berggreen (1801-1880), a multi-talented composer, writer and editor. His first relevant publications were a songbook for schools and a collection of patriotic songs: 
  • A. P. Berggreen, Sange til Skolebrug, udsatte for tre Stemmer, 14 Vols., Reitzel, København 1834-1876 (at KBK
  • A. P. Berggreen, Melodier til de af "Selskabet for Selskabet for Trykkefrihedens rette Brug" udgivne fædrelandshistoriske Digte, C. C. Lose & Olsen, København, 1840 (at KBK)
But soon the first edition of his great collection of national and international "folke-sanger" appeared. A second expanded edition was published during the 1860s:
Volume 1 is dedicated to Danish songs and the other books offer excellent selections of national airs from Norway, Sweden, Britain, Germany and many more countries. This is an outstanding collection, one of the best and most useful from that time.

In Norway the collection and publication of so-called "Folk songs" started much later than in Denmark. Of course there were Norwegian songs and tunes in Laborde's Essai, for example a couple of Edvard Storms Døleviser, long before they were published at home. Then one should not forget the legendary Abbé Vogler who also collected the tune of Storm's "Skogmøte af Torjer Skjeille" and then presented it to his German audiences as "eine alte Weise von den Gränzen von Grönland" (in his Polymelos, 1806, see Verzeichnis Falter, 1810, p. 23). Later this particular melody was used by Carl Maria von Weber and then - thanks to Friedrich Silcher - it became the tune of a popular "Volkslied". But this is another story that I am busy writing at the moment. 

The above-mentioned British edition by Stokes had also included some Norwegian songs but it took some more time until the first real collection of Folkeviser from Norway appeared:
  • Jørgen Moe, Samling af Sange, Folkeviser og Stev i Norske Almuedialekter, Malling, Christiania, 1840, at BStB-DS: P.o.rel. 5333 n & at Google Books)
This was basically a collection of texts, but young composer Ludvig M. Lindeman (1812-1887; see Norsk Biografisk Leksikon) compiled an appendix with some tunes. Lindeman became the most important collector and editor of Norwegian folk tunes. His first relevant own publication (with arrangements for male choirs) was: 
  • Ludvig M. Lindeman, Norske Folkeviser udsatte for fire Mandsstemmer, A. Th. Nissen, Christiania, n.d. [1847] (pdf at Lindemanslegat.no)
From 1853 onwards - until 1867 - he published his great collection in several volumes. The first is available online:
  • Ludvig M. Lindeman, Ældre og nyere Norske Fjeldmelodier. Samlade og bearbeidade for Pianoforte, Förste Bind, P. T. Malling, Christiania, n. d. [1853] (at IMSLP & Internet Archive; the complete set has been re-published as a facsimilé in 1963)
More of Lindeman's works - some of them digitized - are listed on the site Lindemanslegat. Two of them should be added here:
  • M. B. Landstad, Norske Folkeviser, Chr. Tönsberg, Christiania, 1853 (at Google Books; incl. an appendix with tunes compiled by Lindeman [pp. 869-920])
  • Ludvig M. Lindeman, Halvhundrede Norske Fjeldmelodier harmoniserede for Mandsstemmer, Fabritius, Christiania, 1862 (pdf at Lindemanslegat.no; another collection with choral arrangements).
And of course I must mention again A. P. Berggreen. The second volume of his above-mentioned collection is dedicated to Norway. The first edition appeared in the 40s and the second in 1861:



Literature:
  • Jens Henrik Koudal, Rasmus Nyerups visearbejde og folkevisesamlingen 1809-21, in: Musik & Forskning 8, 1982, pp. 5-79 (online at http://dvm.nu/periodical/mf/mf_1982/)
  • Olav Solberg, Editionen von Balladen und Volksliedern im Norden, in: Paula Henrikson & Christian Janss, Geschichte der Edition in Skandinavien, Berlin etc., 2013 (= Bausteine zur Geschichte der Edition 4), pp. 97-124

Friday, May 15, 2015

Polymelos - Abbé Vogler's Collections of National Airs (1791/1806)

At the moment I am trying to make myself familiar with the work of the Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler (1749-1814), a composer, music educator, musicologist, organ designer and organ virtuoso - "Europas 1. Orgelspieler" (see Musikalische Korrespondenz 1790, p. 122) - , in fact a very fascinating and controversial character (see Grave 1987, a good biography; still useful: Schafhäutl 1886; also helpful: Veit 1990, Fischer 1996). It seems that many were not sure if he was a genius or a charlatan. Especially his organ concerts must have been very impressive. He travelled far and wide through Europe and everywhere his performances attracted great attention (see Grave 1987, pp. 227-237). Vogler used to play a certain kind of Programm-Musik, or Tonmalereien ("musical paintings") with titles like "Die Hirtenwonne, vom Donnerwetter unterbrochen" or "Die Belagerung von Jericho" (see a playlist in Musikalische Korrespondenz 1790, p. 119, see also Vredblad 1927).

But what is of particular interest for me is a "project" he started around 1790: the collection and publication of so-called national airs - the tunes, not the songs - from all kind of countries. They were published under the title Polymelos, first in 1791 and then in 1806. Besides that he used to play these pieces in his concerts and also included some of them in an instruction-book for pianists. For some reason the musicologists have not shown much interest for this part of Vogler's work. There is only one important relevant article (Leopold 1998) and otherwise it is often only mentioned in passing and more as kind of oddity. 

Of course there was already at that time a certain interest for foreign and exotic music. Also collections of national airs were beginning to appear. But what was somewhat new was the idea of comparative anthologies of these kind of "national music". In fact Vogler seems to have been amongst those - and among the first - who took Herder's ideas seriously and attempted to do for the tunes what Herder had done for the lyrics of the so-called "Volkslieder". 

Vogler's first collection - with an intriguing tracklist - was announced in the Musikalische Korrespondenz in December 1790 (p. 183, at Google Books) and here we can see that he had adopted Herder's terminology:
"Von Hrn. Abt Vogler wird demnächst bei [...] Bossler in Speier in 2 Theilen erscheinen: Polymelos, oder karakteristische Nationalmusiken verschiedener Völkerschaften, eine originelle und sonderbare Sammlung von Volksliedern und Tänzen für das Klavier, und noch dazu, was man von ihm gar nicht erwartet, sehr leicht eingerichtet [...]"
Some months later the first part appeared:
Polymelos ou Caractères de Musique de differentes Nations, arrangés pour le Piano-forte d'une manière trés facile à executer,.avec un accompagnement de 2 Violons, Viole et Basse ad libitum, par L'Abbé Vogler, Bossler, Speyer, n. d. [1791] (online at BLB Karlsruhe, DonMusDr 272)
The inclusion of a Swedish tune should come as no surprise as he was working in Stockholm at that time but we can also find here an Italian aria, a Russian air, a Polonaise, a Danse des Cosaques and interestingly also a Scottish tune. I am not completely sure but this must have been the first time a national air from Scotland was published in Germany:

This is of course "Birks of Invermay", the tune of a very popular song written by David Mallet. It was first printed in 1734 in the second volume of William Thomson's Orpheus Caledonius (p. 98-90) and then regularly recycled in just about every collection of Scottish music during the 18th century. I made a quick survey of all variants known to me at the moment and it seems Vogler's version looks most similar to the one published by William McGibbon in his Collection of Scots Tunes (Vol. 2, 1746, here p. 16 on a later edition, at the Internet Archive).

Vogler had spent some time in London the previous year and there he could have easily become familiar with this tune, either from a book or from a performance. He also played a "Chanson Ecossaise" in one of his concerts there (see Veit, p. 411) and it may have been this one. The visit to London must have been particularly important for Vogler's project. Apparently he learned there some more tunes for his collection, including one from China that he also first performed there (dto).

In fact in the announcement in the Musikalische Korrespondenz Vogler claimed that the Emperor of China had sent some music to London where he got this tune from the secretary of war. I am not sure if I should believe that story. But the second volume of his collection never appeared and the public had to do without the Chinese melody. They only could hear it occasionally in his organ concerts, for example in September 1790 in Ulm (see Beck 1894, at UB Heidelberg):
[...]
Zweyter Theil.
1) Flöten Concert. Allegro Andante
Statt Rondo eine Chinesische Arie, die der Kaiser von China
neuerdings nach London gesandt.
[...]
In the following years the Abbé kept on working for this project and expanded his repertoire. He even made a somewhat mysterious trip down south to Portugal and from there to North Africa (see Clausen, also Vogler 1806, p. 24) where he also noted some tunes that he then played in his concerts. Some of these pieces - a Romance Africaine and an Air Barbaresque from Morocco - as well as the Chinese melody can be found in a little collection that was part of an instruction book for the piano published in 1798:
Pieces de Clavecin faciles, doigtées, avec des Variations d'une difficulté graduelle pour servir d'exemple à l'ecole de Clavecin. Par L'Abbé Vogler, Stockholm, n. d. [1798] (at the Internet Archive; modern edition: Grave 1986; the complete Clavér-Schola - with notes about the tunes on pp. 34-49 - is available at the UB Greifswald)
Another song supposedly from Africa - "Terrassenlied der Afrikaner, wenn sie Kalk stampfen, um ihre Terrassen zu befestigen, wo immer wechselweis ein Chor ruht und singt, währen dessen der andere stampft" - was regularly performed at his organ concerts and at least one reviewer seems to have been very impressed (AMZ 3, No. 12, 17.12.1800, pp. 192-4, at Google Books). 

In 1806 Vogler staged a spectacular show in München (see: Königlich-Bairisches Intelligenzblatt 11, No. XII, 22.3.1806, pp. 189-90, at BSt-DS):

"Wenn die Musik eine der wichtigsten Zweige der National-Erziehung ist, so ist es eben auch sie, welche die Kräfte des National-Geistes zu erhalten und stets zu beleben vermag. Diese ehrenvollen Aufforderungen haben in Hrn. Vogler den Wunsch erzeugt, ein bairisches patriotisches Orgel-Konzert, und ein national-karakteristisches Konzert zu geben, wozu der Erfinder die Favorit-Melodien von allen Zonen gesammelt hat. Dieses Konzert Polymelos genannt wird [...] von einem Chor von mehr als 50 Sängern begleitet werden."
 With his organ and a great choir he performed on two nights and the program looked really interesting. But this concert seems to have been a flop, at least according to a review (see AMZ 8, No. 35, 28.5.1806 p. 554). But nonetheless he set out to make the tunes available in print and soon afterwards the sheet music appeared - in 16 parts:
Polymelos. Ein nazional-karakteristisches Orgel-Koncert, in zwei Theilen, zu 16 verschiedenen Original-Stücken, aufgeführt, mit Zustimmung eines Chores von 80 Sängern im evangelischen Hofbethaus zu München, den 29. und 31sten März 1806, für's Fortepiano, mit willkürlicher Begleitung einer Violine und Violonzell gesetzt, variiert, und Ihro Majestät der regierenden Königin b. Baiern zugeeignet vom Abt Vogler, Falter, München, [1806] (see Verzeichnis Falter, 1810, p. 23, Schafhäutl, No. 185, pp. 267-8)
Besides some Bavarian "Volkslieder", all written by himself, the Abbé included some of his old classics like the Chinese tune - now with a different story, he claimed to have it deciphered from missionaries' manuscripts -, the Air barbaresque, the African Romance, the Venetian Barcarole, a Swedish and a Finnish tune as well as a Scottish piece - that I haven't identified yet (see the incipit in: Denkmäler der Tonkunst 16/2, p. LIX) - and a Norwegian melody that he described as an "old air from the borders of Greenland"! He had as much fantasy as many later editors of "Folk songs". One reviewer (in: AMZ 9, No. 24, 11.3.1807, pp. 382-7) discussed every single piece and paid his respect to Vogler's work:
"Auch dem unmusikalischen Leser müssen die Nachrichten von einem musikalischen Werk interessieren, welches schon wegen seiner Originalität sich ein bleibendes Denkmal in der Geschichte der Kultur der Musik gestiftet hat" (p. 387).
Unfortunately his work was undeservedly forgotten and is rarely discussed today. Of course It should be clear that he was not yet systematically collecting and documenting the music of foreign countries and cultures (see Clausen, p. 35). He simply took what he liked and added it to his repertoire. But it was also more than simple musical exoticism. In fact he opened up this field and encouraged both his listeners and younger composers - like Carl Maria von Weber (see Leopold, p. 204; also Veit 1990, esp. pp. 232-241) - to broaden the perspective. 

Vogler's work also reflected a general interest in these kind of comparative anthologies. At around this time Welsh composer and harpist Edward Jones (1752-1824) attempted something similar. In 1804 he published his Lyric Airs. Consisting of Specimens of Greek, Albanian, Turkish, Arabian, Persian, Chinese and Moorish National Songs and Melodies (available at IMSLP) and he claimed on the title page that it was the "first selection of this kind ever yet offered to the public". A second collection, Terpsichore's banquet, or, Select Beauties of Various National Melodies with for example Spanish, Maltese, Russian, Armenian and Hindostan melodies came out a couple of years later (c. 1813, see the tracklist in the catalog of the NYPL).

The next step would be collections of songs - including words and music - from around the world and in fact in 1818 Thomas Moore published the first volume of his Popular National Airs. Other similar publications followed soon: in England the Melodies of Various Nations (T. H. Bayly, c. 1822-30), in France 100 Chants Populaires des diverses nations du monde (by G. Fulgence, c. 1829) and in Germany Zuccalmaglio's und Baumstark's Bardale (1829), Wolff's Braga (1835) and Silcher's Ausländische Volksmelodien (1835-1841). At least the latter may have been familiar with Vogler's work (see Bopp, p. 101) and used two tunes that can also be found in his collections.

Literature
  • Paul Beck, Abbé Vogler in Ulm (dessen Orgelkonzert im Münster) – eine Säkularerinnerung, in: Diöcesan-Archiv von Schwaben 12, 1894, Heft 18, p. 72 (at UB Heidelberg)
  • August Bopp, Friedrich Silcher, Stuttgart 1916
  • Bernd Clausen, Warum reisen unsere musikalischen Gesetzgeber nicht in fremde Länder? Das Voglersche Choral-System und sein biografisches Umfeld, in: Bernd Clausen & Robert Lang (ed.), Abt Voglers Choralsystem, Hildesheim, Zürich & New York, 2004, pp. 31-58
  • Denkmäler Deutscher Tonkunst. Zweite Folge. Denkmäler der Tonkunst in Bayern 16. Mannheimer Kammermusik des 18. Jahrhunderts, 2. Teil, eingel. und hg. v. Hugo Riemann, Leipzig 1915 (at BStB-DS)
  • Georg-Helmut Fischer, Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler : ein "barockes" Musikgenie, in: Musik in Bayern. Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für Bayerische Musikgeschichte 52, 1996, pp. 25 - 54
  • Floyd K. Grave & Margaret K. Grave, In Praise of Harmony. The Teachings of Abbé Georg Joseph Vogler, Lincoln, 1987
  • Floyd K. Grave (ed.), Georg Joseph Vogler. Pièces de Clavecin (1798) and Zwei und dreisig Präludien (1806), Madison, 1986 (= Recent Researches in the Music of the classical Era XXIV)
  • Silke Leopold, Grönland in Mannheim. Abbé Voglers Polymelos und die Idee der "nazional-karakteristischen" Musik, in: Kreutziger-Herr, Annette (Hrsg.), Das Andere. Eine Spurensuche in der Musikgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts (= Hamburger Jahrbuch für Musikwissenschaft. Bd. 15), Frankfurt/M., 1998, pp. 203-224
  • Musikalische Korrespondenz der teutschen Filarmonischen Gesellschaft für das Jahr 1790. Julius bis Dezember, Speyer, n. d. [1790] (at Google Books & The Internet Archive)
  • Karl Emil von Schafhäutl, Abt Georg Joseph Vogler. Sein Leben, Charakter und musikalisches System. Seine Werke, seine Schule, Bildnisse &c., Augsburg, 1888 (also as a reprint: Hildesheim & New York, 1979)
  • Joachim Veit, Der junge Carl Maria von Weber. Untersuchungen zum Einfluß Franz Danzis und Abbé Georg Joseph Voglers, Mainz 1990 (online at Universität Paderborn, Digitale Sammlungen, urn:nbn:de:hbz:466:2-6908 )
  • Georg Joseph Vogler, Über die harmonische Akustik (Tonlehre) und ihren Einfluß auf alle musikalischen Bildungsanstalten. Rede gehalten in Verbindung mit den öffentlichen Vorlesungen im Saale der deutschen Schulanstalt in München vom wirklichen und ordentlichen Mitgliede der Königl. bairischen Akademie der Wissenschaften A. Vogler den 1. Juni 1806, Johann André, Offenbach, n. d. [1806] (at Google Books)
  • Patrick Vretblad, Abbé Vogler som Programmusiker, in: Svensk Tidskrift for Musikforskning 9, 1927, pp. 79-98

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Thomas Moore's "Irish Melodies" & "Popular National Airs" - What is available online?

These days I am working quite a lot with two of Thomas Moore's important and influential song collections: both the Irish Melodies and the Popular National Airs. It is always helpful to have these publications available online and thankfully most of the original editions as well as some later complete editions have been digitized. 

The Irish Melodies

There is no need to say here anything about this one, it is surely one of the most popular and most successful song collections ever published and a lot of these songs are still well known:
  • A Selection of Irish Melodies. With Symphonies and Accompaniments by Sir John Stevenson MusDoc and Characteristic words by Thomas Moore Esq., 10 Volumes, L. Power, London, 1808-1834
The first two volumes are available at the Internet Archive. They belong to the Drs Whitby Music Collection by the University of Western Ontario, easily one of the best collections of historical sheet music and songbooks I have ever seen in the Internet: 


The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in München has also already digitized a considerable part of its massive musical holdings. Recently they have added the first 7 volumes of the Irish Melodies to their digital collection. They also have a copy of Vol. 8, but for some reason that one hasn't been scanned yet. I hope they will add it in the near future: 
Volume 8, 9 and 10 of the original editions are to my knowledge at the moment not available online. Therefore it is necessary to use one of the complete editions of Moore's collection. The Internet Archive has for example - among others - these three and they are all useful:
  • Moore's Irish Melodies. With Symphonies and Accompaniments by Sir John Stevenson and Characteristic Words, Oliver Ditson & Co., Boston, n. d. [1852]
    https://archive.org/details/mooresirishmelod00stev_0 
  • J. W. Glover (ed.), Irish Melodies with Symphonies and Accompaniments by Sir John Stevenson Mus. Doc. and Characteristic Words by Thomas Moore Esq., New Edition, Dublin, n. d. [1859]
    https://archive.org/details/irishmelodieswit00glov 
  • Moore's Irish Melodies. With the Celebrated and Unsurpassed Symphonies and Accompaniments of Sir John Stevenson, Mus. Doc. and Sir Henry Bishop. Illustrated by Twenty Original Steel Engravings, After W. P. Frith, R. A., A. Elmore, R. A. &c. With a Biography of Thomas Moore and An Essay on the Music of Ireland, The London Printing And Publishing Company & A. W. Cittens, London & New York, n. d.
    https://archive.org/details/mooresirishmelod01stev 


The Popular National Airs

The great success of the Irish Melodies encouraged Moore and his publisher to try out the same formula for national airs from all kind of different countries and in 1818 the first volume of this collection appeared. Here he offered new lyrics with melodies that were described as Indian, Spanish, Portuguese, Sicilian, Venetian, Scotch, Italian and Hungarian. Sir John Stevenson was again responsible for the music. Five more volumes would follow and from No. 2 onwards Henry Rowley Bishop wrote the arrangements:
  • 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
Again the BStB, München helps out with scans of the first three volumes: 
Unfortunately they don't have copies of Vols. 4-6 and as far as I know no other library has yet digitized them. Therefore it is necessary to use a complete edition of this collection. I found only one that is available online:
This is the so-called "People's Edition of Moore's National Airs" and the editor has simplified the arrangements a little bit. In the preface he notes that "it has been my study to arrange the symphonies and accompaniments in the simplest appropriate form, so as to render the whole easy of execution". Nonetheless this edition is very helpful and I have used it quite a lot.



By the way, I am somewhat surprised that the National Airs have rarely been discussed by the Moore scholars. There is no critical study and as far as I know nobody has yet tried to identify the tunes and its sources. But this was an influential and groundbreaking and also very successful collection. Some of the songs became really popular. Even the reviews at that time were very positive (see f. ex. The Quarterly Musical Magazine And Review, 1, 1818, pp. 225-229 & 5, 1823, pp. 67-74, The Gentleman's Magazine 90 I, 1820, p. 521, at Google Books):
"This is certainly one of the most pleasing collections of the kind we ever recollect to have met with. We have, however, less to do with the music itself, than the delightful poetry which accompanies it, and which comprizes, according to our ideas of beauty, some of the most highly polished specimens of the art of Songwriting we know in the English language [...]".
A rival publisher apparently liked it so much that he hired songwriter Thomas A. Bayly as well as Bishop and Stevenson for a competing collection with the title Melodies of Various Nations (4 Vols, c. 1822-30). But Moore's work was also known outside of Britain and served as a model for other editors interested in these kind of "international Folksongs". I recently noticed that Friedrich Silcher from Tübingen, one of the most important German producers of "Volkslieder", used more than 20 tunes from Moore's Popular National Airs (as well as some more from the Irish Melodies) for his own Ausländische Volksmelodien (4 Vols., 1835-41, at the Internet Archive). Some of these German versions - with translations or new words mostly by poet Hermann Kurz - became very popular, for example "Stumm schläft der Sänger" (H. 1, No. 1; i. e. "Here Sleeps The Bard"), a song that even today still belongs to the repertoire of male choirs:


The Irish Melodies and the Popular National Airs have of course also been included in numerous collections of Moore's - more or less - complete works. But in most cases the music has been left out. But there is one massive edition where the tunes were included:
  • The National Moore. Centenary Edition Including the Airs of the Irish Melodies, National Airs &c And a Memoir by J. F. Waller, William Mackenzie, London & Dublin, n. d. [1880] (pdf available in the online catalog of the British Library, [select "I want this"])
These are 700 pages of Thomas Moore's works - I can't say if it is complete - and for every song not only from the two collections discussed here but also from others the tune has been included. Not at least this is a very beautiful book and very enjoyable to read and leaf through and well worth the download.