Monday, September 1, 2014

Old German Songbooks, No. 14: Volkslieder-Album (1864)

  • Volkslieder-Album. Eine Sammlung ausgewählter Volkslieder für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, Berlin, Trautwein, n. d. [1864]
    Now available at the Internet Archive
This is a collection of some of the most popular so-called "Volkslieder" with simple piano accompaniments. These kind of booklets were cheaper than single sheet music editions but looked better and more sophisticated than songbooks. The target audience were amateur musicians who loved to sing and make music at home. 

There is no publication date, but a book with this title is listed in Hofmeisters Monatsberichten in April 1864 (p. 83). Here we can find altogether 32 songs with simple piano arrangements and one may say that they were among the most popular from this genre. Besides the well known German standards like the unavoidable "Lorely" this booklet also includes of generous amount of foreign pieces, of course with German texts.

Thomas H. Bayly's "Long, Long Ago" had become immensely popular in Germany but it was usually regarded as an "Irisches Volkslied" (No. 30: "Lang' ist es her"). Thomas Moore's "The Last Rose of Summer" was also well known since Friedrich von Flotow had used it in his opera "Martha" in 1847 (here No. 13: "Letzte Rose"). Not at least the anonymous editor included "Robin Adair", at that time ubiquitous in songbooks of all kinds. There were also Sicilian, Russian and Swedish songs. A favourable review can be found in Pädagogischer Jahresbericht 16, 1864 (Leipzig 1865, pp. 407 & 409, at BStB-DS):
"Das sind wirklich 'ausgewählte', oder vielmehr auserwählte Volkslieder, 32 an der Zahl, mit leicht spielbarer, sehr discreter Klavierbegleitung; eine Sammlung, die nichts enthält, was nicht musikalisch charaktervoll, poetisch bedeutsam wäre, und welcher deshalb die weiteste Verbreitung - auch um der hübschen Ausstattung willen - zu wünschen ist".
Another review in the AMZ in 1867 (Vol. 2, 1867, p. 161, at Google Books) was not as positive. This writer admonished the complete lack of information about the songs in this collection: 
"[...] wie es sich der Herausgeber überhaupt sehr bequem mit dem Nachweise gemacht hat; so hat er es nicht einmal der Mühe für werth gehalten, die namen der Componisten, welche ja meistentheils bekannt sind, anzumerken, nur selten treffen wir einen Namen [...] Wir möchten unserseits nur den Herausgeber fragen, ob das Lied 'Hans und Liese' zu den Volksliedern zu zählen und warum der Name des Componisten (Curschmann) nicht genannt ist? Soll etwa durch das Letztere die Einschmuggelei gedeckt werden?"
Other songs were lifted from Friedrich Silcher's books. The "Matrosenlied" was written by Gerhard and Pohlenz, the German words for "Robin Adair" were also by poet Wilhelm Gerhard, to name only some more examples. But this sloppiness was not untypical for the attitude of many publishers and editors towards the "Volkslied"-genre. Eveybody who had tagged his songs that way - or whose songs were regarded as "Volkslieder" - would quickly find them reprinted in other collections, usually without proper acknowledgement. "Folk songs" were seen as common property, no matter who had written them and the music publishers felt justified to recycle them for free.

No comments:

Post a Comment