3. The German Versions (1839-1852)
"The Blue Bell of Scotland" also became very popular in Germany. But it took some time, in fact nearly four decades, until the first adaptation was introduced. But then several versions with different German texts were published and at the end of the century the song was a standard for choirs and was even sung in schools.
Of course there was, thanks to Ossian and Percy's Reliques, a great interest for Scottish - but not yet Irish - songs in Germany since the 1770s. Herder and others translated a considerable number of texts. But it seems that at first there was much less interest in the tunes. Only very few were made available. The first anthology with music, Haydn's Alt-Schottische Balladen und Lieder (1803/4, at the Internet Archive), wasn't particularly successful. Even Beethoven's Schottische Lieder (op. 108, 1822, at Beethoven-Haus) were at first received with some skepticism (see Waltz).
But in 1826 "Robin Adair", introduced via France with Boieldieu's La Dame Blanche, was a great hit (see my text at JustAnotherTune). It became one of the most popular Volkslieder in Germany during the 19th century and opened the door for more British songs, especially Scottish and Irish national airs. Meanwhile in Heidelberg Professor Thibaut (see here in my blog), jurist and music theorist, was busy translating and arranging foreign songs. He also performed them regularly with his choir. Thibaut owned copies of some of Thomson's collections and he made good use of them. None of his works were published at that time but the manuscript of "Alte Volksgesänge" (see RISM 453009283) has survived.
In the '30s Burns was discovered in Germany, more than three decades after his death. Several books of translations appeared even though the original tunes remained rare. German composers preferred to write their own melodies. Thomas Moore became even more popular and many of his songs from the Irish Melodies and the Popular National Airs were made available. From then on Scottish, Irish and English songs always made up a not insignificant part of the German singing repertoire.
A key role was played by Friedrich Silcher (1789-1860), director of music at the University of Tübingen. He had already made himself a name as editor and arranger of German Volkslieder. Between 1835 and 1841 he first published the four volumes of his Ausländische Volksmelodien, an anthology of international national airs that was mostly derived from Moore's collections (at the Internet Archive; see here in my blog). Here he introduced German versions of for example "The Last Rose of Summer", "Here comes the Bard", "Home, Sweet Home"and "My Heart's in the Highlands" These songs would become popular Volkslieder nearly everybody was familiar with.
"The Blue Bell of Scotland" was first published in Germany circa 1810 in a rather obscure collection, guitar player Carl Kreye's VI Englische National-Lieder (No. 3, p. 5). But this was only Mrs. Jordan's original version and he didn't include a translation. Apparently nothing did come of this publication and it would take nearly two decades until the song appeared again in print. Professor Thibaut in Heidelberg must have known at least Mrs. Grant's version from Thomson's anthology. But it seems he didn't use it. At least the song can not be found in his manuscript.
Who knew it was Franz Kugler (1808-1858; see Wikipedia), a young poet and songwriter who later would become a famous art historian. In 1829 he had spent some time in Heidelberg and had also sung in Thibaut's choir. A year later his Skizzenbuch appeared. This was a very tasteful collection of songs and poetry and here we can find a "Harfenlied" (p. 80) written to the tune of "O where, and o where is your Highland Laddie gone". This poem is in no way related to the original text and the melody was not included. One may assume that Kugler expected his readers to be familiar with it. Some years later instrumental versions of "The Blue Bell of Scotland" by piano players Auguste de Sayve (see Hofmeister, Nov/Dec 1832, p. 89) and Henri Herz (see Hofmeister, Juni 1836, p. 52-3; at IMSLP) were published.
It seems that the tune was already well known in Germany by that time. But the first successful German adaptation of the song only appeared in 1839: in the third volume of Silcher's Ausländische Volksmelodien (No. 8, p. 11):
Hinaus, ach hinaus zog des Hochlands kühner Sohn;
Er zog in den Streit für seines Königs Thron.
Er geht, es eilt ihm nach der Liebsten Klageton,
'Und er sucht ihn ihr Blick, nie kehrt er mehr zurück.
Ach dort, wo kein Berg die müde Sonne deckt,
Von mir liegt er fern auf blut'gen Sand gestreckt;
Wo ihn nicht mehr mein Ruf zu frühem Jagen weckt,
Ach, das Schwert, das ihn traf, senkt mich in Todesschlaf.
This volume offered a good selection of international Volkslieder. There are four tunes - Irish, Indian, Venetian and Neaplitan - from Moore's collections as well as French and Scandinavian songs. Most interesting is a real Scottish tune, the one of "The Bush Aboon Traquair" which is here combined with a poem by Friedrich Rückert (No. 6, pp. 8-9). "Hinaus, ach hinaus" fits in well here. At that time every anthology needed at least one patriotic war song.
This text's author is not known. Silcher was not always forthcoming about his sources. Perhaps he had found it in a literary magazine and then dispossessed the original writer. This was also the case with another song in this collection, the "Minstrel Boy" in the fourth volume. But this free adaptation isn't that bad. In fact it sounds quite effective when sung to the tune. There are only two verses but they are more dramatic than the original text. Here the brave warrior doesn't return home and at the end of the second verse the girl also dies.
We can see that he used the simplified version of the tune. Perhaps he had a sheet music edition with this variant at hand. For this collection Silcher had arranged the song for one voice accompanied by piano or guitar. Later he also wrote an arrangement for male choirs that was first published in 1860 in the 12th volume of his XII Volkslieder für Mannerstimmen (see Bopp, p. 215; also in Volkslieder, 1902, No. 135, pp. 243-4).
Only three years later the song appeared again, this time with both the original English text and a new German translation:
- Scotch National Song: The Blue Bells of Scotland. Schottisches Nationallied: Die Blauen Glöckchen von Schottland (Choice of the Most Favorite English, Scottish and Irish Romances and Airs No. 10), Schlesinger, Berlin, n. d.  (see Hofmeister, März 1842, p. 42; AMZ 44, 1842, col. 222), at the Internet Archive
"Wohin zog, o, zog dein Hochlandsbursch davon?"
"In den Kampf mit Frankreichs Sohn für König George auf seinen Thron.
Und, o, wünscht mein Herz, wär er doch zu Hause schon!"
"O wo ist, o wo ist deines Hochlandsburschen Haus?"
"Sein Haus ist in lieb' Schottland in dem Blumenglöcklein Strauss.
Und o aus dem Herzen kommt er mir nie heraus."
"In welch ein Kleid denn gekleidet dein Hochlandbursche geht?"
"Seine Mütze, die ist von Tartan grün, und sein Brustlatz, der ist von Plaid,
Und immer mein Herz nach dem Hochlandburschen steht."
"Ach denk' nur, ach denk' nur, wenn dein Hochlandbursche fiel?"
"Ich setzt' mich hin und weinte bei der Trauerpfeife Spiel
Vor Schmerz bräch' mein Herz, wenn er fiel, wenn er fiel."
The German version was by Philipp Kaufmann (1802-1846; see Goedeke, Grundriss, p. 1041) who had made himself a name as a translator of Shakespeare and also of Burns' songs (see Gedichte von Robert Burns, 1839, at Google Books). His text is much closer to the original but otherwise not very convincing. It sounds clumsy and stiff and not particularly well singable.
The publisher also included accompanying arrangements for guitar and piano by Eduard Salleneuve respectively Sigmund Jähns, both respected musicians. Interestingly the original variant of the tune was used here, not the simplified one á la Silcher. In fact the song was newly imported again, in this case - believe it or not - by the King of Prussia. At least that's what is claimed on the cover of the sheet music:
"played before his Majesty Frederik William of Prussia on the Duke of Wellingten's presenting new colours to the 72 regiment of Scotch Highlanders of Windsor Castle the 26 January 1842."
"gespielt vor Sr. Maj. dem Könige Friedrich Wilhelm IV zu Schloss Windsor am 26. Januar 1842 bei Übergabe der neuen Fahne an das 72te Regiment der Schottischen Hochländer und so beifällig aufgenommen, dass S. M. der König eine Abschrift nach Deutschland mitnahm."
In January 1842 the King had traveled to London to attend the christening of the new-born Prince of Wales. There he also took part in a parade by a Scottish regiment that received new colours (see Natzmer, p. 38 & p. 48; Gentleman's Magazine 17 (N.S.), 1842, p. 317). It is interesting to see that this song was performed at such an official occasion. Apparently Mrs. Jordan's old popular dittie was at that time really regarded in England as an authentic Scottish air.
It may also sound unusual that the King of Prussia himself - or maybe someone from his entourage - brought the song to Germany and then passed it on to a music publishing house. But there is no reason to disbelieve this story. The publisher surely wouldn't have dared to claim this on the sheet music if it wasn't true. In a catalog published in 1846 (p. 74) he could still boast about his royal informant: "Von S. Maj. dem König Friedrich Wilhelm IV. aus England mitgebracht".
Some years later this version was revived by August Neithardt (1793-1861, see Wikipedia), at that time director and conductor of the Königliche Domchor in Berlin. In fact the song became part of the repertoire of this famous choir. In 1850 they toured in England and it was among the pieces performed there. Neithardt's arrangement was even published as sheet music in London by Novello (see Musical Times 4, 1850, p. 107).
Only the following year this version appeared in print in Germany together with three other popular British standards:
- August Neithardt, 4 Volkslieder für Vokalquartett, op. 141. (Heimath, süsser Ort. Des Sommers letzte Rose. Blaue Glöcklein von Schottland. Rule Britania), Schlesinger, Berlin, 1851 (see Hofmeister, Juli 1851, p. 142); at UDK Berlin
Of course the Domchor also performed the song at concerts in German, for example in one on March 1, 1852 (NBM 6, 1852, p. 72).
At around that time a third German version of "The Blue Bell of Scotland" was published:
- Johannes Dürrner, 6 Schottische Nationalgesänge mit deutschem und englischem Texte, für 4 Männerstimmen (Solo u. Chor). Part. u. Stimmen (Die Blumen vom Walde, Das Mädchen von Gowrie, John Anderson, The blue Bells of Scotland, Schotten, deren edles Blut, Schwarz ist die Nacht). Gewidmet den deutschen Liedertafeln, Breitkopf & Härtel, Leipzig, 1852 (see Hofmeister, Oktober 1852, p. 187; NZM 37, No. 10, 3.9.1852, p. 104)
- 4 songs reprinted in: Vivat Paulus. Liederbuch des Universitäts-Sängervereins zu St. Pauli, Leipzig, 1863, pp. 14-24, here No. 6d, pp. 22-4
Auf deinen Höh'n, du mein liebes Vaterland,
da blüht ja so schön die Blum' am Waldesrand!
Die Blume blüht so blau, so blau im Sonnenschein:
Und liebliches Grün schließt rings die Blumen ein.
Die Glockenblumen blühn so hell im Sonnenschein,
Und liebliches Grün schliesst rings die Blumen ein!
O Heimathland bist du mir doch so hold und lieb.
In weitester Fern mein Herz bei Dir stets blieb.
Wohl ist die Welt so schön, so weit mein fuß mich trug,
Doch du warst's allein, für das mein Herze schlug.
Wohl ist die Welt so schön, so weit mein fuß mich trug,
Doch du warst's allein, für das mein Herze schlug.
Wo rings im Wald die rothen Disteln blühn,
Und Rosmarin und Raute sie umblühn,
Da lebt mein Volk so treu, mein Volk so treu und kühn,
Und preiset das Land, wo blau die Blumen blühn.
Da lebt mein Volk so treu, mein Volk so treu und kühn,
Und preiset das Land, wo blau die Blumen blühn.
Johannes Dürrner (1810-1859, see BMLO; see Eichner), composer, conductor, arranger and teacher, came from the town of Ansbach and studied in Leipzig with Mendelssohn and others. Among his first works were settings of some of Burns' songs (see Eicher, pp. 175-7). In 1844 he moved to Edinburgh and worked there for the rest of his life as music teacher. His subsequent works, mostly songs, were published both in Germany and in Britain (see f. ex. Copac).
This was the very rare case of a musician from Germany who lived in Scotland and produced a collection of Scottish songs for the German market. He of course had there easy access to all anthologies of national airs published in Britain. This was very different from editors and translators in Germany who often had difficulties to find those publications. Very few were available there. In Edinburgh Dürrner was also in contact with G. F. Graham and other local experts. His aim was to offer the German choirs arrangements that allowed them to perform these songs in an "authentic" way (see Eichner, p. 186-7).
The German text was written by Wilhelm Doignon (1820-1863; see Stadt Weißenburg-Wiki), a teacher, pastor and poet from the town of Weißenburg in Bavaria. Dürrner had already used some of his poems in an earlier publication. In this case he seems to have commissioned translations of three of the six songs from Doignon in whose own collection of poetry they were also published later (1860, pp. 361-2). Interestingly this text is very different from the original version, in fact not a translation but a completely new song. There is no reference to Scotland nor to going to war. Instead Doignon wrote a home song celebrating the beauty of the "Heimathland". It was closer to "Home, Sweet Home" than to Mrs. Jordan's "The Blue Bell of Scotland".
Three German adaptations of this song appeared in a comparatively short time, in the course of 13 years between 1839 and 1852. But more would follow. At first I have to mention a Danish publication. Composer A. P. Bergreen was at that time very busy producing a comprehensive anthology of international national airs, the Folke-Sange og Melodier, Fædrelandske og Fremmede. The first edition had appeared in the '40. and the second one came out in 10 volumes between 1860 and 1870.
The fourth volume of the latter was dedicated to British songs - Engelske, Skotske og Irske Folk-Sange og Melodier (1862) - and here he included the original version of "The Blue Bell of Scotland" in an arrangement for vocals and piano together with a Danish translation (No. 68, p. 108; notes, p. 175 & p. 182). He had received the song from one Cora Nygaard in 1844. Her father had heard it in London sung by a Scotsman in 1807. Berggreen noted that what she had sent to him was nearly identical to the version in Chappell's book.
Some years later Hermann Kestner (1810-1890; see here in my blog) tried his hand at the song. We can find his attempt in the second booklet of the Schottische Volkslieder (1868, No. V, pp. 8-9), a part of the short-lived series Ausländische Volkslieder für Sopran, Alt, Tenor und Bass that he had put together with composer Eduard Hille who wrote the arrangements. His source was Graham's book but he preferred to use an "older" text even though he was not sure if this was the one written by Mrs. Grant. His translation is not convincing. Instead it sounds rather stiff.
The next in the row was Alfons Kissner (1844-1928), a scholar of Romance and English literature who during the 1870s translated a great number of Scottish, Irish and Welsh songs into German. They were made available in a series of songbooks with arrangements by several different musicians, for example his father (see here in my blog). His version "The Blue Bell of Scotland" appeared in Schottische Lieder aus älterer und neuerer Zeit (1874, No. 1, pp. 6-8). He was the first one to offer a translation of Mrs. Grants text.
Another new adaptation was used in 1886 Lange's Ausländischer Liederschatz (No. 36, p. 44), an anthology of foreign Volkslieder with arrangements for vocals and piano. But this was only a mutilated text of two verses that didn't make much sense. At least Mrs. Jordan is identified as the song's author.
Now we have altogether six German translations of this song published between 1839 and 1886. But only two of them became popular and were regularly used again: Silcher's "Hinaus, ach hinaus" and "Auf deinen Höh'n", written by Doignon for Dürrner. It is not unreasonable to assume that these two texts survived because they were better singable than the others. Those four adaptations - by Kaufmann, Kestner, Kissner and Lange - all sound, I have already mentioned that, mostly clumsy and stiff and they were later ignored.
Of course Silcher was immensely popular in Germany. He can be seen as one of the most influential promoters of Volkslieder. His publications were regularly reprinted and the two arrangements of the song remained easily available for a long time. Other editors also adopted this version and arranged it anew. Most important in this respect was Ludwig Erk (1807-1883), music educator and song collector, who edited songbooks for all purposes. His arrangement of "Hinaus, ach hinaus" - he usually called it "Des Mädchens Klage" or "Hochlands Sohn" - for male choirs can be found for example in his colleague Wilhelm Greef's Männerlieder, a very popular collection that was reprinted for several decades (Vol. 9, 1849, here 6th ed., 1869, No. 22, p. 26) and in Erk's own Deutscher Liederschatz for schools (1859, here 4th ed. 1889, No. 135, p. 131). Mixed choirs were supplied with an arrangement for example in the Sängerhain (see 50 Years' Jubilee Edition, 1899, Vol. 2, No. 68, pp. 112-3) and those who preferred to sing this song at home with piano accompaniment found it in his Liederschatz (Vol. 3, 1879, No. 79, p. 74). Interestingly he also had done some research and knew about Mrs. Jordan. In his books she nearly always received credit as the song's author.
Other arrangements for choirs were published for example in Wilhelm Meyer's Volks-Liederbuch (1873, No. 102, pp. 109-10) - here Kestner's text was also included -, Jakob Blied's Vater Rhein. Liederbuch für deutsche Männerchöre (here 2nd ed., 1897, No. 113, pp. 320-1) and a popular collection with the title Neuester Liederschatz (No. 36, p. 56).
Editors of songbooks for schools also revived the song. At that time the pupils were plagued with a great number of patriotic ditties but this one had at least a good tune and a certain exotic touch. Arrangements for choirs can be found in collections like Voigt's Volksweisen für die reifere Jugend (H. 1, 9th. ed., 1880, Nr. 32, pp. 25-6), Lützel's Chorlieder für Gymnasien und Realschulen (3rd ed., 1885, No. 80, pp. 172-3), Manderscheid's Frauenchöre für den Gesangsunterricht (1902, No. 108, pp. 192-3) or Polyhymnia. Auswahl von Männerchören für Seminare und höhere Lehranstalten by Bösche, Linnarz and Reinbrecht (Vol. 2, here 10th ed., 1904, No. 34, pp. 46-7). These are only a few examples.
Arrangements for piano and vocals were also offered regularly. I will only mention here from the '60s Carl Stein's Album volksthümlicher deutscher und ausländischer Lieder (2nd ed. 1868, No. 63, pp. 140-1) and from the '90s Victorie Gervinus, a respected music scholar. The song was included both in her Naturgemässe Ausbildung in Gesang und Klavierspiel (1892, Nr. 61, pp. 190-1), an instruction book for singing and piano playing, and in the posthumously published Volksliederbuch (1896, No. 61, p. 67), a collection of German and international Volkslieder she used to sing at home.
Johannes Dürrner died in Edinburgh in 1859. But his songs remained popular among choir singers in Germany. The original arrangement of "Auf deinen Höh'n" was reissued several times as sheet music during the '80s and '90s (see Hofmeister September 1885, p. 256; Mai 1892, p. 194; Dezember 1896, p. 626; Januar 1897, p. 23). Meanwhile other arrangers had adopted this version. In Switzerland it was Ignaz Heim (1818-1880; see ADB 50, 1905, pp. 133-5, at wikisource; see here in my blog), a very successful and influential editor of songbooks for choirs, who used it in some of his own collections, both in the Neue Volksgesänge für den Männerchor (Vol. 1, 1865, No. 17, pp. 40-1 & 9th ed., 1882, No. 17, pp. 40-1) and the Sammlung von drei- und vierstimmigen Volksgesängen für Knaben, Mädchen und Frauen. Liederbuch für Schule, Haus und Verein (1869 , No. 93, pp. 162-3). He changed the words a little bit. Now it was about roses in the Alps and the text sounded even less Scottish.
In Germany Doignon's original text was sung but the poet's name was lost. The song was usually treated as an anonymous Volkslied even though it wouldn't have been too difficult to check Dürrner's original sheet music for the author's name. This piece was most popular among editors of songbooks for schools and we can find it for example in Lüdicke's Liederwald. Lieder für deutsche Schulen (H. 4, 3rd. ed., 1883, No. 30, p. 41), Theodor Schmidt's Auserlesene weltliche Männerchöre zum Gebrauche in Lehrerbildungsanstalten (2, 1886, No. 44, pp. 180-1) - here Dürrner's arrangement was reprinted -, Robert Schwalm's Schulliederbuch (4th ed., 1899, No. 76, p. 74), Hesse's & Schönstein's Schulliederbuch (H. 3, 5th ed., 1899, No. 90, pp. 137-8), Linnarz' Auswahl von Chorgesängen, a collection for girls' schools (1908, No. 60, pp. 98-9). The latter is interesting because here we can find the song neatly packed together with the other five standards from the British Isles that were at that time among the most popular Volkslieder in Germany (pp. 94-105): "Robin Adair", "My Heart's in the Highlands", "Long, long ago", "The Last Rose of Summer" and "Home, Sweet Home".
Occasionally Silcher's and Dürrner's versions were included together, for example in Böhme's great compendium Volksthümliche Lieder der Deutschen (1895, No. 732, p. 561) or in another songbook for schools, Bösche's & Linnarz' Auswahl von Liedern für deutsche Schulen (H. 4, 2nd ed. ,1900, No. 54-5, pp. 71-3). Sometimes only an English text was printed as in Irmer's Sammlung französischer und englischer Lieder für den Schulgebrauch (2nd ed., 1911, No. 26, p. 81) and in Französische und Englische Volkslieder für den Schulgebrauch by Simon & Stockhaus (1912, Nr. 21, p. 75). These examples should suffice. Not only in Britain but also in Germany a complete bibliography of all editions of the different versions of this song would be a challenging undertaking.
"The Blue Bell of Scotland" was one of a group of British songs, mostly older popular hits, that were adopted as Volkslieder in Germany. During the 19th century the Volkslied-genre was not only a nationalist undertaking but also had an international dimension. Songs from other countries were accepted without prejudice. Interestingly foreign patriotic and home songs like "Home, Sweet Home", "My Heart's in the Highlands" and of course "The Blue Bell of Scotland" found particular favor. Perhaps German singers could relate to them so well because songs of this type already made up a considerable part of the singing repertoire.
These imported songs were performed by choirs, became standards in songbooks for schools and the people also sang them at home, accompanied by guitar or piano. In fact in 1899 it was noted that "today even the farmhand and the peasant girl" knew the German versions of "Long, long ago" and "The Last Rose of Summer" (see Fleischer 1899, p. 6). I assume this was also true of "The Blue Bell of Scotland". Most of the time this song was regarded as an anonymous Volkslied. At best the editors referred to it as "schottische Volksweise". Only very few of them - Erk and some others, see also Tappert 1871, p. 812 - managed to name Mrs. Jordan as its original author. But that was not uncommon. For example "Home, Sweet Home" by Payne and Bishop and Bayly's "Long, long ago" (see my article at JustAnotherTune) were usually sold as "Irish" Volkslieder. In these cases it would also not have been too difficult to find out about the real authors.
Nonetheless it is still interesting to see that the song has survived. Mrs. Jordan surely would have been surprised that her tune was also well known outside of Britain. One may assume that Mr. Dutton of the Dramatic Censor would have been shocked even more about its great success. He had called out this "undeservedly popular" song as a "Namby Pamby insipidity" and regarded it as "convincing proof of the frivolity and depraved taste of the age" and "insignificance itself". But the people did not agree and kept Mrs. Jordan's "old Scottish Ballad" alive for such a long time.
- August Bopp, Friedrich Silcher, Stuttgart 1916
- Wilhelm Doignon, Gedichte, Meyer, Weissenburg i. R., 1860 , at Google Books
- Barbara Eichner, Singing the Songs of Scotland. The German Musician Johann Rupprecht Dürrner and Musical Life in Nineteenth-Century Edinburgh, in: Peter Horton & Bennett Zorn, Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies Vol. 3, London & New York, 2016 (2003), pp. 171-94
- Oskar Fleischer, Ein Kapitel vergleichender Musikwissenschaft, in: Sammelbände der Internationalen Musik-Gesellschaft 1, 1899-1900, pp. 1-53, at the Internet Archive
- Karl Goedeke, Grundriß zur Geschichte Der Deutschen Dichtung aus den Quellen, Bd. 3, Abt. 2, Dresden 1881, available at the Internet Archive
- Franz Kugler, Skizzenbuch, Reimer, Berlin, 1830, at UB Düsseldorf
- Oldwig von Natzmer, Unter Hohenzollern. Denkwürdigkeiten aus dem Leben des General Oldwig von Natzmer. aus der Zeit Friedrich Wilhelms IV., Teil I, 1840-1848, hg. von G. E. v. Natzmer, Perthes, Gotha, 1888, at the Internet Archive
- Wilhelm Tappert, Die Frauen und die musikalische Komposition, in: Musikalisches Wochenblatt 2, 1871, pp. 809-12, at the Internet Archive
- Sarah Clemmens Waltz, Great Expectations: Beethoven’s Scottish Songs, in: Beethoven Journal 26, 2011, pp. 12-25
Go back to 2. Mr. Thomson, Mr. Ritson & Mr. Johnson (1802-3)