Sunday, June 29, 2014

A new book about the reception of Burns in Europe, but...

I saw that there is a new book out about Robert Burns and the reception of his works in Europe:
  • Murray Pittock (ed.), The Reception of Robert Burns in Europe, Bloomsbury, New York etc 2014 (The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe) [see]
This looks very interesting and in fact it is exactly what I am interested in at the moment. But the book is a little bit expensive, isn't it. At the printed edition costs about 200 Euros and even the Kindle-edition is priced at nearly 120 Euros. So that's nothing for a normal book buyer and I should wait until the libraries here have it. I saw that four or five of them in Germany have ordered this publication and don't doubt that in a couple of months it will be available for Inter Library Loan.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Old German Songbooks, No. 11: Max Friedlaender, Commersbuch (2 editions: 1892 & 19??)

Commercium books were very popular during the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Apparently the students used to sing much more than today. For publishers these kind of collections must have been good business. Some of them - like the Allgemeines Deutsches Commersbuch - were published in numerous editions. Here I have another Commersbuch, both the original edition published in 1892 and an expanded 4th edition with 30 more songs that came out a couple of years later: 
  • Commersbuch, herausgegeben und mit kritisch-historischen Anmerkungen versehen von Max Friedlaender, C. F. Peters, Leipzig n. d. [1892]
    Available at the Internet Archive
  • Kommersbuch, herausgegeben und mit kritisch-historischen Anmerkungen versehen von Max Friedlaender, C. F. Peters, Leipzig n. d. [c. 1900?]
    Available at the Internet Archive
This is a not untypical collection. Here we can find the usual amount of drinking songs - in fact one doesn't get the best impression of the young academic elite of that era - as well as many popular "Volkslied"-standards from Silcher's "Loreley" to "Geibel's "Der Mai ist gekommen". The editor notes in his preface that this book is intended for practical use and therefore only includes those songs "die jetzt überall gesungen werden" (see p. v). 

What makes this book really worthwhile are the editor's historical notes on many of the songs. Max Friedlaender (1852-1934, see Moser in NDB 5, Berlin 1961, p. 455, at BStB-DS) was a renowned scholar of both art-songs and "Volkslieder". He did some real research and much of what he found out is still essential. Anybody interested in the history of these kind of songs is well advised to check out his notes.

I must admit that I first only needed this publication to read what he had written about one particular song. Unfortunately at the moment there is no digitized version of this book available. But I was glad to find both the 1st and the 4th edition in antiquarian bookshops and scanned them myself. As usual these books are no clean library copies but were clearly heavily used by their original owners. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ferdinand Freiligrath's Library

Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810 - 1874) was not only a popular poet but also very important as the translator of British poetry and songs. I would not say that he is completely forgotten today but one gets the impression that his big role in 19th century German cultural life is somewhat overlooked a little bit even though it seems at the moment as if a kind of rediscovery is on the way. 

What is rarely discussed today is that he was an immensely influential mediator of English and Scottish literature in Germany. His numerous translations were widely read and often set to music. He for example wrote adaptations of some of Robert Burns' songs. His translation of "My Heart's in the Highlands" - "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" - was supplied by German composers with numerous new tunes and became one of the most popular songs of the 19th and early 20th century. 

Freiligrath had an impressive library both of German and British literature which unfortunately was auctioned after his death. At the Internet Archive I found the catalog of his collection as it was published by the bookseller from Stuttgart who arranged the auction: 
  • Verzeichniss der von Ferdinand Freiligrath nachgelassenen Bibliothek, besonders reichhaltig in der deutschen und englischen classischen Literatur, welche am Dienstag den 18. Juni 1878 und an den folgenden Tagen, Vormittags 8-12 und Nachmittags 3-5 Uhr, durch Oskar Gerschel's Antiquariats-Buchhandlung (Stuttgart, Schloss-Strasse 37) zu Cannstatt in der Wohnung des Dichters; Gasthof zum alten Hasen, an der Neckarbrücke, versteigert wird, Stuttgart 1878 (available at the Internet Archive)

It is really worth reading simply to see what a great amount of English and Scottish publications he had acquired during his lifetime and one may say that it was a great shame that this astonishing collection was sold and scattered.


Friday, June 13, 2014

The Earliest German Translation of Robert Burns' "My Heart's In The Highlands"

Robert Burns' "My Heart's In The Highlands" was translated into German quite often during the 19th century. The three most important early attempts were created between 1830 and 1840, exactly the years when the interest in Burns began to grow (see the overviews in Selle 1981 and Kupper 1979). 

Philipp Kaufmann (1802-1846, see Goedeke, Grundriss, p. 1041, at the Internet Archive & Waldbrühl, in: Neuer Nekrolog 24, 1846, pp. 942-948, at BSB) started translating Burns around 1830 (see again Selle, p. 45 & Kupper, pp. 19-20 for the background) and some of his works were already available early on for interested circles, among them his "Mein Herz ist im Hochland". This text was even published in Britain in October 1831 in the Englishman's Magazine (Epistles of Defoe, Junior. No. III., pp. 243-248, here pp. 244-5, available at British Periodicals, ProQuest) and then reprinted in other journals like the The Museum of Foreign Literature and Science (Philadelphia & New York, Vol. XX, 1831, pp. 111, at Google Books). The first one to use some of his pieces was Friedrich Wilhelm Jähns whose Schottische Lieder und Gesänge came out in 1836 ("Mein Herz ist im Hochland" is in Heft 2, No. 1, pp. 2/3, at the Internet Archive). But Kaufmann's collection of translations was published as a book only in 1839 (Gedichte von Robert Burns, Stuttgart & Tübingen, "Mein Herz ist im Hochland", pp. 5-6). 

Poet Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-1876) tried his hand at this song in the mid-30s and his text was first printed on February 20th, 1836 in the Blätter zur Kunde der Literatur des Auslands (Vol. 1, No. 4, p. 13, at the Internet Archive) and later also in his Gedichte (Stuttgart & Tübingen 1838, p. 443, at BSB, 2nd. ed., 1839, p. 500, at the Internet Archive). This would become the most popular and most often used German adaptation of "My Heart's in the Highlands". In 1840 Wilhelm Gerhard's book of translations was published with the title Robert Burns' Gedichte deutsch and he of course also included "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" (here No. 66, p. 126, at the Internet Archive). At that time the new enthusiasm for Burns was well on its way. More translations of this song would follow.

But I was surprised to find one translation that had become available some years before Kaufmann started his work, at a time when Burns was more of a insider tip in Germany:
  • "Des Schotten Abschied", in: Peter von Bohlen, Vermischte Gedichte und Übersetzungen, Königsberg 1826, p. 120 (at the Internet Archive; see also the review in: Allgemeines Repertorium der neuesten in- und ausländischen Literatur für 1826, p. 11, at the Internet Archive)

Peter von Bohlen (1796-1840) was a scholar of oriental languages and culture. According to the preface this collection of poetry and translations included mostly works from his youth. Interestingly there are three more adaptations of songs by Robert Burns (pp. 121-126): "Anna" ("The Gowden Locks Of Anna"), "Mutterklage" ("A Mother's Lament For the Death of Her Son") and "John Gerstenkorn"("John Barleycorn"). In fact this was one of the earliest attempts at translating Burns into German language.

Bohlen's book is not mentioned in Kupper's and Selle's standard works, but that is no wonder because it is a rather obscure publication. As far as I can see there are only four extant copies in German libraries. I found it via Google Books because it has been digitized. This shows nicely that digitization often helps to make available formerly more or less forgotten books. 

Von Bohlen was born in 1796 in Friesland in Northern Germany as the son of an impoverished farmer, had an adventurous youth and worked for example as the servant of a French general. After that he became - in Hamburg - an employee of two foreign merchants, one from Poland, the other one from Britain. But he loved to read, was gifted in languages and hungry for knowledge and also wanted to be a poet. So he began to write little pieces that were published in local broadsides. 

At the age of 21 von Bohlen managed to find a place in a good school, a Gymnasium, and four years later he started studying Theology and Orientalism, first in Halle and then in Bonn and Berlin. From then on he made a quick career and was appointed university lecturer in Königsberg in 1825 and then professor in 1828. He became a renowned expert for the ancient culture of India and translated from Sanskrit and other Oriental languages like Arab and Persian. His major work was Das Alte Indien (2 Vols., 1830, at the Internet Archive). But unfortunately he had to retire from his post in 1839 because of illness and died a year later at the age of 44 (summarized from Leskien, in ADB 3, 1876, p. 61, and Bohlen's Autobiographie, 1841, at the Internet Archive; see also Wikipedia).

According to his Autobiographie (p. 30) he learned English when he was working for the merchants and then also became interested in British literature: "Ich begann eifrig zu übersetzen, meistentheils aus Burns, der immer noch mein Liebling ist [...]". This suggests that his translations were written more than ten years before the publication of his book, around or even before 1815, if I understand the chronology of the autobiography correctly. In the preface to the Vermischte Gedichte und Übersetzungen he humbly calls them "eine kleine Zugabe von englischen Spielereien" (p. VI). 

But to be true his version of "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" is not that bad, except perhaps some bumpy rhymes. In fact it works quite well and there is not that much difference to the translations of Kaufmann, Freiligrath, Gerhard & co. One could easily replace their texts with this one and barely anyone would notice:
Mein Herz ist im Hochland', mein Herz ist nicht hier,
Mein Herz ist im Hochland', im Jägerrevier;
Er jaget das Wild und verfolget das Reh;
Mein Herz ist im Hochland', wo immer ich geh.

Leb' wohl denn, o Hochland, sey Norden gegrüßt,
Wo Heimath der Ehre und Tapferkeit ist;
Wohin ich auch wandre, wo immer ich bin,
Es zieht zu den Hügeln des Hochland's mich hin.

Lebt wohl, ihr Gebirge, mit Schnee überdeckt,
Lebt wohl, grüne Thäler, in Gründen versteckt,
Lebt wohl, wildhangende Forsten und jach,
Lebt wohl denn ihr Ströme, du murmelnder Bach.

Mein Herz ist im Hochland' u. s. w.
But von Bohlen seems to have been way ahead of his time. Until the 1820s there was little interest for Burns in Germany. And when the Scottish songwriter was discovered anew more than a decade later he was busy with Oriental languages. Not at least von Bohlen died much too early in 1840 and therefore missed out his favourite poet's newfound popularity. Otherwise he perhaps would have also been able to contribute a little bit more to what then became a hotly-contested field. 

  • Autobiographie des ordentl. Professors der orient. Sprachen und Literatur an der Universität zu Königsberg Dr. Peter von Bohlen, herausgegeben als Manuskript für seine Freunde von Johannes Voigt, Königsberg 1841 (available at BSB; Google Books, Internet Archive)
  • Peter von Bohlen, Vermischte Gedichte und Übersetzungen, Königsberg 1826 (available at Google Books & BSB, the Internet Archive)
  • Epistles of Defoe, Junior. No. III. - To Gerald O'Donnell, Esq., Carrick Lodge, Belfast, in: The Englishman's Magazine, Oct. 1831, pp. 243-248 (available at British Periodicals, ProQuest)
  • A. Leskien, Art.: Bohlen, Peter von, in: ADB 3, 1876, p. 61 (available at BSB)
  • Hans Jürg Kupper, Robert Burns im deutschen Sprachraum unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schweizerischen Übersetzungen von August Corrodi, Bern 1979 (Basler Studien zur deutschen sprache und Literatur 56)
  • 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)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

"Mein Herz ist im Hochland" - Ludwig Erk 1847 & 1848

In an earlier article I have discussed the very first publication of "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" - an adaptation of Robert Burns' "My Heart's In The Highlands" - as a "Volkslied" by Friedrich Silcher in his Ausländische Volksmelodien in 1837. Even though Silcher's work was often very influential in this case his version didn't prevail and was only very rarely reprinted in later years. But others tried their hand, too, at this song and supplied it with different tunes.

The next one happened to be - 10 years later - Ludwig Erk, a music educator, choirmaster and scholar and one of the most important promoters of the genre Volkslied at that time. I have also written a little bit about him in my text about "Robin Adair in Germany" (Chapter 4, on so I won't repeat it all here. His arrangement appeared in: 
  • Volkslieder, alte und neue, für Männerstimmen gesetzt, Zweites Heft, 78 Lieder enthaltend, Essen 1847, No. 44, pp. 42-3 (online available at SLUB Dresden) 
This was a very interesting collection of songs arranged for male choirs. The first volume (available at SLUB Dresden) had been published in 1845 and it included for example his influential version of "Treu und herzinniglich, Robin Adair". In the introduction (pp. v-vi) he had noted that the arrangements in this book had grown out of the practical work with his choirs and emphasized the "natural beauty" of these songs. Erk regarded Volkslieder as a good medium for the development of musical skills, for the understanding of what he calls the "organic form" of a song. In fact he kept his arrangements simple and clear.

Erk wrote an arrangement for three male voices. The tune he used here is of course not the original one from Burns' version and it is also different from Silcher's "Scottish melody". But nonetheless it sounds very familiar:

This is "Love is the Cause of my Mourning", an old Scottish - or perhaps English, but I won't discuss this here - tune that was at that time already at least 150 years old. It played a not unimportant role in the prehistory of the popular folk-song "I Loved A Lass" (see Chapters II & III in my discussion of this song family, on and I must admit I was somewhat surprised to find this particular tune in this German songbook. Interestingly Erk also included additional German and English lyrics. The latter he called the "Originaltext":
"Dim, dim is my eye, as the dew-drop once clear,
Pale, pale is my cheek, ever wet with the fear"
Thankfully in this case Erk has named his source: "Schottische Volksweise, Nach L. van Beethoven's Schottischen Liedern. Op. 108. H. 1, Nr. 6". This was a collection of Beethoven's arrangements of Scottish songs published 15 years earlier and here we can in fact find the melody as well as the words of "Dim, dim is my eye" including the German translation. But there's no trace of "My Heart's in The Highlands" and no reference to the tune's original name:
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, Schottische Lieder mit englischen und deutschen Texte. Für eine Singstimme und kleinen Chor mit Begleitung des Piano-Forte, Violine und Violoncello obligato, Op. 108 Schlesinger, Berlin [1822], Heft 1 No. 6, pp. 18-9 (or No. 5, pp. 14-5 in an early print, both available online at Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Digitales Archiv)
How this ancient tune came to be used for a German version of "My Heart's in the Highlands" is an interesting story and here I can at first recapitulate what I have written about it in the above mentioned text. The very first trace for the existence of this tune may be a broadside from c. 1670 with the title Love is the Cause of my Mourning, Or, The Despairing Lover. Sung with its own proper tune (Wing L3211A, at EEBO; new edition c. 1700: Roxburghe 3.672 at EBBA). Of course we don't know if this "own proper tune" was in fact the same as the one later known by the same title. But it is a not unreasonable assumption. The earliest available source for the melody itself is a fiddle tune book from Northumberland that was compiled in 1694/5 (Atkinson Manuscript, pp. 147-8, available at at FARNE) and it seems that it was first printed in 1700 in Henry Playford's Original Scotch Tunes (p. 10-11, at the Internet Archive).

In 1724 Allan Ramsay published one more text for this song in the first edition of his Tea-Table Miscellany (p. 32, at the Internet Archive) and a year later William Thomson was the first to print these words together with the tune in his Orpheus Caledonius (here No. 17, p. 34 in the second edition, 1733, at the Internet Archive):

 The song was then regularly reprinted and republished until the end of the century. We can find it for example both in the Scots Musical Museum (Vol. 2, Edinburgh 1788, No. 109, p. 111) and in the Edinburgh Musical Miscellany (Vol. 2, Edinburgh 1793, p. 332). Not at least the indefatigable George Thomson took care of this tune. His Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs - published since the early 90s - was a most ambitious project. Thomson hired eminent composers like Pleyel, Kozeluch, Haydn and since 1809 Beethoven to write modern arrangements and also replaced many of the old texts with new lyrics by contemporary poets like Robert Burns (for the background see f. ex. McCue 2006, McAulay 2009, p. 58-66, Fiske 1983, Will 2012, all with references to other relevant literature).

"Love is the Cause of My Mourning" was among the tunes for which he commissioned new arrangements from Ludwig van Beethoven in 1814/15 (see Cooper, pp. 22-24). It was then published in the 5th volume of his collection:
  • A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs With Introductory & Concluding Symphonies & Accompaniments for the Piano Forte, Violin & Violoncello by Haydn & Beethoven [...], Vol. V, Edinburgh 1818, pp. 216-7 (online available at Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Digitales Archiv)
But here he didn't use the old, popular text first published by Ramsay in 1724 and since then associated with the tune. Instead new words - "Dim, dim is my eye [...]" - by one William Brown, "The Late Publisher, And Very Able Conductor of The Edinburgh Weekly Journal" were included.

Beethoven was eager to have his work for Thomson also published on the continent and therefore 25 of his arrangements including this one ended up in the edition brought out by Schlesinger in 1822. A German translation of Brown's poem was added but the name of the original tune somehow got lost. This collection then served as source for Ludwig Erk who was looking for an original Scottish tune to use for "Mein Herz ist im Hochland" . But why the latter borrowed exactly this melody is not clear.

Burns never had used this particular tune. What's amusing is that here it was combined posthumously to a German translation of one of his songs and then ended up in the repertoire of Männergesangvereine. I wonder what he would have thought of it. But I think the melody fits well to this text and Erk's arrangement sounds quite appealing. But nonetheless it did not prevail and was rarely if ever republished. I only found this version of the song in Böhme's Volksthümliche Lieder der Deutschen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert (Leipzig 1895, No. 534, p. 399) but as far as I know it never appeared in other popular songbooks.

In fact it seems that even Erk himself was not convinced of this tune. Only a year later Hoffmann von Fallerleben's Deutsches Volksgesangbuch was published. Ludwig Erk happened to be the musical editor of this collection and here he used another familiar melody (No. 106, pp. 100-101, available at the Internet Archive):

This is the tune of "Der Mai ist gekommen", a very popular Volkslied that can also be found in this collection (here as "Wanderschaft", No. 30, p. 29). Poet Emanuel Geibel had written the words of "Der Mai ist gekommen" in 1841. It was then first published a year later. Shortly afterwards Justus Wilhelm Lyra created a tune for this poem and the song was included in a collection compiled by Lyra and some friends, Deutsche Lieder nebst ihren Melodien (Leipzig 1843, No. 62, pp. 304-5, online available at HAAB, Monographien Digital). But the the composer's credit was hidden at the end of the book (see p. 346) and therefore everybody seemed to believe that this was an old folk-tune. Only much later Lyra's authorship was revealed (summarized from: Widmaier 2008, in Historisch-kritisches Liederlexikon).

Of course we may ask why Erk used this tune. But structure and meter of Geibel's poem is exactly like "Mein Herz ist im Hochland". Perhaps the latter had used it as a model for his piece. This is not an unreasonable assumption. Emanuel Geibel was also familiar with Burns and later translated a little bit (see Selle, p. 114). He surely knew Freiligrath's adaptation. In fact Lyra's melody works quite well with this text but only gives it a more solemn or even sad character.

The tune of "Der Mai ist gekommen" was later used more often with "Mein Herz ist im Hochland". As late as 1895 Böhme (p. 400) noted that the text can also be sung to this melody. But it didn't become the standard tune and in subsequent years three more attempts at combining Freiligrath's translation with other music would follow. But this will be discussed later.

  • Franz Magnus Böhme, Volksthümliche Lieder der Deutschen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert. Nach Wort und Weise aus alten Drucken und Handschriften, sowie aus Volksmund zusammengebracht, mit kritisch-historischen Anmerkungen versehen, Leipzig 1895
  • Barry Cooper, Beethoven's Folksong Settings. Chronology, Sources, Style, Oxford 1994
  • Roger Fiske, Scotland In Music: A European Enthusiasm, Cambridge 1983
  • Karen E. McAulay, Our Ancient National Airs. Scottish Song Collecting c. 1760 - 1888, PH. D. Thesis, University of Glasgow, 2009 (online available at; a revised and extended edition has been published by Ashgate: Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting from the Enlightenment to the Romantic Era, Farnham 2013, see Google Books)
  • Kirsteen McCue, Schottische Lieder ohne Wörter? What Happened To The Words For The Scots Song Arrangements By Beethoven And Weber, in: Tom Hubbard & R. D. S. Jack (ed.), Scotland In Europe, Amsterdam & New York 2006, p. 119 -136 (see Google Books)
  • 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)
  • Tobias Widmaier: Der Mai ist gekommen, in: Populäre und traditionelle Lieder. Historisch-kritisches Liederlexikon, 2008, URL: 
  • Richard Will, Haydn Invents Scotland, in: Mary Hunter & Richard Will, Engaging Haydn. Culture, context and Criticism, Cambridge & New York 2002, pp. 44-74