Friday, June 15, 2018

Scottish Songs in Germany - "The Bush Aboon Traquair" (Pt. 2)

Go back to Pt. 1


Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany was first published in 1723 but as far as I know at that time nobody in Germany was aware his works or of Scottish songs in general. Two decades later poet Friedrich von Hagedorn mentioned him shortly in the preface to his Sammlung neuer Oden und Lieder (1742, here 4th ed., 1756), a knowledgeable discussion of songs and poetry from all over Europe. 

But greater interest for the songs and ballads of Scotland only arose since the 1760s after the publication of both MacPherson's Ossian and Percy's Reliques, particularly among those promoting what would be called Volkslieder or national songs. Herder derived many of his ideas from Britain and Scotland was a kind of "dreamland" for him in this respect. Of course most of the Scottish ballads in his Volkslieder (1778/9) were taken from the Reliques. But he was also familiar with Ramsay's works and translated two texts from the Tea-Table Miscellany (see Vol. 1, pp. 73-8). On the other hand: the popular repertoire of Scottish and also Irish national airs never made it to Germany at that time. In fact barely anyone knew the tunes of these songs (see also Waltz 2011, pp. 13-5). Interestingly Herder had even acquired the first three volumes of the Scots Musical Museum (see Bibliotheca Herderiana, 1804, p. 290) but he never made use of it in his relevant works. 

As far as I can see only one single Scottish tune was made available in print before 1802. The Abbé Vogler published the melody of "The Birks of Invermay" as "Chanson Ecossaise" in his Polymelos ou Caractères de Musique de differentes Nations (1791, No. 2, pp. 4-5), a small collection of international national airs arranged for easy piano (see here in my blog). The same year at least an Irish song found its way into a musical periodical. German singer Felicitas Heyne returned from a concert tour in Britain with a copy of the popular "Shepherd's I have lost my love". Publisher Bossler in Speyer printed the song as "Altes Irrländisches Volkslied" with a German translation in his Musikalische Korrespondenz der Teutschen Filharmonischen Gesellschaft für das Jahr 1791 (pp. 278-9 & Notenbeilage, pp. 130-1). But otherwise not a single Scottish song with both text and tune was published in Germany during the 18th century. 

Since the 1790s continental composers like Pleyel and Haydn wrote arrangements for Scottish songs for the anthologies of British publishers George Thomson and William Napier. These works were at first not made available on the German music market. But in 1802 the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung published a review of Napier's Selection of Original Scots Songs in Three Parts. The Harmony by Haydn (here Vols. 2 & 3, 1792 & 1795, at the Internet Archive) and reprinted two songs from this anthology (AMZ 5, Beylage I, pp. I - IV; review cols. 53-5). The following year Haydn's Alt-Schottische Balladen und Lieder came out, a small selection of songs from Napier's big collection with German translations (1803/4, at the Internet Archive). This was the very first anthology of Scottish song printed in Germany. 

Of course "The Bush aboon Traquair" wasn't included here. As mentioned above it had already appeared in the first volume of Napier's Selection that was published before he hired the famous Austrian composer to write the arrangements. But at around the same time Haydn arranged the song for another anthology, publisher William Whyte's Collection of Scottish Airs (2 Vols., Edinburgh & London, 1804 & 1807, here Vol. 1, 2nd. ed., 1806, No. 2; Hob. XXXIa:204; see Friesenhagen 2005, No. 366, pp. 5-7). But this version wasn't made available in print outside of Britain and therefore remained unknown to German music buyers. 

A second anthology of Scottish songs appeared in Germany only in 1817: Der Schottische Barde, oder Auserlesene Sammlung von National-Gesängen, mit der Originalmusik (see RISM; nyd). Editor Benjamin Beresford (c. 1750-1819; see Shelley 1936), an English writer and teacher living on the continent - mostly in Germany - since 1795 had published during the last 20 years a number of anthologies of German songs translated into English, for example The German Erato (1797 [ESTC T187020, at the Internet Archive) and A Collection of German Ballads and Songs with their original Music (1799, here 2nd ed. 1800 [ESTC T185153], at the Internet Archive). Here he did it the other way round and offered Scottish songs to the German audience. The texts were translated by Helmina von Chezy (1783-1856; see Wikipedia), a popular and well-known writer, poet, playwright, journalist. 

Among the 19 pieces included here - arranged for piano and voice - we can also find "Der Wald von Traquair" (see RISM). This was the very first time this song was published in Germany, nearly a century after its original publication in the Tea-Table Miscellany. But it seems that this anthology wasn't a particularly big success. Only two extant copies are known and as far as I can see neither this song nor any of the others from this book managed to win any kind of popularity. 

In fact the tune of "The Bush aboon Traquair" needed some help from France to become better known in Germany. In December 1825 French composer François-Adrien Boieldieu's "Scottish" opera La Dame Blanche (see f. ex. Fiske, p. 103) had its debut in Paris and already in April the following year a German adaptation was published. It was first performed in Vienna in July and in Berlin in August. Soon a reviewer noted that Boieldieu's "admirable music has won a lot of friends" (AMZ 28, No. 42, October 1826, p. 684). This opera quickly became immensely popular in Germany.

Eugène Scribe's libretto was loosely based on some of Sir Walter Scott's works, f. ex. Guy Mannering, and the composer used a couple of tunes regarded as Scottish to make it sound more authentic. Most important was "Robin Adair" that would later become a great hit in Germany (see my article about this song at But Boieldieu also used the melody of "The Bush aboon Traquair" in the Overture (see the piano-vocal score, German ed., 1826, p. 2, ms. 12-29). That way many German music fans became familiar with this tune. But neither the song's title nor its texts were made available and therefore it was only known as a nameless "Scottish" melody: 

Otherwise the song is missing from relevant musical anthologies published at that time. It is neither in Beethoven's 25 Schottische Lieder (op. 108, 1822, at Beethoven-Haus, Bonn) nor in Weber's Schottische National-Gesänge (1826, at SLUB Dresden). These were German editions of their works for George Thomson's anthologies. Thomson kept on using the arrangement of "The Bush aboon Traquair" that Pleyel had written for him in the 1790s and never commissioned a new arrangement from any of the other composers who worked for him (see f. ex Vol.1 of the octavo edition, 1828, No. 7). 

For some reason "The Bush aboon Traquair" was also mostly ignored by the editors and arrangers of international Volkslieder, a genre that began to get more popular since the 1820s (see here in my blog). Prof. Thibaut in Heidelberg didn't arrange the song for his choir and it doesn't appear in his unpublished manuscript Alte National-Gesänge (see RISM). It can't be found in Zuccalmaglio's and Baumstark's Bardale. Sammlung auserlesener Volkslieder der verschiedenen Völker der Erde (1829, at the Internet Archive) and even O. L. B. Wolff didn't include this song in his Braga, an anthology of foreign Volkslieder in 14 volumes (1835, see Vol. 5, at the Internet Archive). Only Friedrich Silcher used the tune in his Ausländische Volksmelodien (here Vol. 3, 1839, No. 6, pp. 8-9).
Silcher (1789-1860), Musikdirektor at the University of Tübingen, composer, arranger, music educator and choirmaster, had already published successful collections of German Volkslieder. But he was also fascinated with foreign songs and between 1835 and 1841 he compiled four volumes of Ausländische Volksmelodien arranged for vocals with accompaniments by piano and guitar (for more see here in my blog). This anthology was for the most part based on Thomas Moore's collections, both the Popular National Airs and the Irish Melodies while his knowledge about Scottish songs seems to have been very limited. 

In fact the two "Scottish" songs in the first two volumes - "Stumm schläft der Sänger" (I, No. 1, p. 2) and "Oft in der stillen Nacht" (II, No. 7, p. 10) - were borrowed from Moore and even the adaptation of Burns' "My Heart's in the Highlands" (II, No. 1, p. 1) was supplied with a tune from the Popular National Airs. It seems that Silcher had at that time no access to any Scottish collection, neither those published in Britain nor the few available in Germany. 

"The Bush aboon Traquair" was the first - and in fact the only - original tune from Scotland that he used in his collection. But it is obvious that he borrowed it directly from La Dame Blanche to which he refers in a note at the bottom of the page: "es wird kaum nöthig sein, zu bemerken, dass Boieldieu diese Melodie in die Ouverture seiner Oper 'die weisse Frau' verflochten hat". There is good reason to assume that Silcher wasn't familiar with the original title and words of "The Bush aboon Traquair". Therefore he had to use another text and for some reason selected a poem by Friedrich Rückert. This is not a bitter lament about an untrue former lover like Crawford's original text but an unequivocal expression of love ("I am living in my sweetheart's breast/ In her quiet dreams [...]):
Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust,
In ihren stillen Träumen.
Was ist die Welt und ihre Lust?
Ich will sie gern versäumen.
Was ist des Paradieses Lust
Mit grünen Lebensbäumen?
Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust,
In ihren stillen Träumen.

Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust,
In ihren stillen Träumen.
Ich neide keines Sternes Lust
In kalten Himmelsräumen.
Was ist die Welt und ihre Lust?
Ich will sie gern versäumen.
Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust,
In ihren stillen Träumen. 
Friedrich Rückert ((1788-1866, see Wikipedia), a scholar and a true genius, was professor of Oriental languages. In fact he knew more languages than anybody else and translated Indian and Arabian literature into German. But he was also an immensely popular poet of astonishing productivity who wrote numerous poems in all possible circumstances and about all possible topics from love and death to patriotism. Most famous are surely the Kindertodtenlieder written after the death of two of his children. 

This particular text was from a happier time. It belongs to a collection of poems called Liebesfrühling that he created during the years 1819 - 1821 when he was courting his future wife (see Erdmann 1988, pp. 215-9). Only very few of these pieces were published at that time in periodicals. The complete set including "Ich wohn in meiner Liebsten Brust" was first made available in 1834 in an edition of Rückert's Gesammelte Gedichte (pp. 187- 406, here No. LXXII, p. 314). The Liebesfrühling was later published in extra-editions (see f. ex. Frankfurt/M., 1844, at the Internet Archive) and would become one of most popular poetry collections of the second half of the 19th century (see Erdmann, p. 216). 

For some reason Rückert himself was not particularly fond of music (see Demel in Erdmann, pp. 412 & 415) but nonetheless his poems were immensely popular among German composers. Everyone from Schubert and Schumann to Strauss and Mahler as well as numerous more obscure musicians set them to music. Around 1400 settings have been counted (see Demel in Erdmann 1988, pp. 417-550). According to a search in Hofmeisters Monatsberichten at least 16 settings of the text used by Silcher were published between 1838 and 1886, mostly by lesser known composers. But he was one of the first. Only one attempt by the rather obscure Adolf von Lauer in 1838 (see Hofmeister) predated his version. 

Combining this particular poem with a Scottish tune was surely a new idea. I am not sure if it really works. At least we can say that this version was never particularly popular in Germany. Many songs from Silcher's anthologies including some from the Ausländische Volksmelodien became standards that were reprinted in numerous songbooks. But that's not the case with "Ich wohn' in meiner Liebsten Brust". Perhaps the tune was too difficult to sing. I know of only one songbook, musicologist Victorie Gervinus' Volksliederbuch published posthumously in 1896 (No. 72, p. 86). These were the songs she used to sing at home for family and friends and a considerable number of them were taken from Silcher's works. 

The original version also appeared occasionally in other publications. In Eduard Fiedler's Geschichte der volksthümlichen schottischen Liederdichtung (1846, pp. 73-6) we can find a chapter about Ramsay's contemporaries with a critical discussion of Crawford's work as well as translations of both "The Bush aboon Traquair" and "Tweedside". The arrangement from Graham's Songs of Scotland (Vol. 1, 1849, pp. 18-9) was reprinted in a music journal (NZM 5, 1851, pp. 322-3). A handbook of English Literature for schools published in 1852 included a small chapter about Robert Crawford with some introductory remarks and the original texts of "The Bush" and "Tweedside" (II, pp. 271-2).

Since the 1860 more anthologies of Scottish songs began to appear. In some of them new translations and arrangements of "The Bush aboon Traquair" can be found. Hermann Kestner, private scholar from Hannover and one of the most knowledgeable experts for international national airs, included his version - arranged for four voices by Eduard Hille - in Schottische Volkslieder (Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 3-5), a part of his series with the title Ausländische Volkslieder für Sopran, Alt, Tenor und Bass bearbeitet und mit deutscher Übersetzung versehen (see also here in my blog). He called it "Der Wald von Traquair". The text was not an exact translation but rather a free adaptation:
Im schönen Walde von Traquair
Schlug einst mein Herz in Wonne,
Die Zweige rauschten um uns her
Im Strahl der goldenen Sonne.
Dort schwur sie Liebe mir und treu,
Wo wir so traulich sassen.
O schöner Traum, du zogst vorbei,
Sie hat mich längst verlassen.

O damals lächelt' sie so mild,
Als ob ihr Herz voll Liebe;
ich träumte all' mein Glück erfüllt,
Als ob es stets so bliebe.
Doch jetzt verlässt sie Wald und Flur,
Wo wir uns einst gesehen,
Blick' ich sie an, so zürnt sie nur
Und lässt mich lieblos stehen.

Wie blühte einst der Wald so schön!
Noch athm' ich seine Düfte.
Jetzt trifft ihr Zorn mich wie das Wehn
Der kalten Winterlüfte
Der schöne Wald ist öd' und leer,
verstummt sind uns're Lieder.
Zum schönen Walde von Traquair
Kehr' ich nun nimmer wieder. 
Between 1872 and 1877 young scholar Alfons Kissner (for more see here in my blog) - in 1875 he became professor for English and French at the University of Erlangen - compiled a series of anthologies of Scottish, Irish and Welsh songs, newly arranged mostly by his father Carl Kissner and with most of the texts translated by himself. These were in fact the first anthologies published in Germany with a more systematic approach. "The Bush aboon Traquair" was included in Schottische Lieder aus älterer und neuerer Zeit für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte (1874, Heft 2, No. 10, pp. 22-3). He offered both the original text and his own translation of two verses as well as some short and accurate notes about the song's history. 
Composer Max Bruch had published an anthology of Scottish songs in 1864: 12 Schottische Volkslieder mit hinzugefügter Klavierbegleitung (at the Internet Archive; for more see again here in my blog). For some reason "The Bush aboon Traquair" was not among the songs arranged for this collection. But "Der Wald von Traquair" in an arrangement for a choir was already performed in 1866 in Koblenz (see Signale für die musikalische Welt 24, 1866, p. 457). This version only appeared a decade later in Fünf Lieder für gemischten Chor a Capella (op. 38, Simrock, Berlin, 1875, see Hofmeister), together with for example an aria from Wagner's Tannhäuser and a song about the Rhine. Bruch used Kestner's translation - "Im schönen Walde von Traquair" - just like Wilhelm Meyer who just had arranged the song for male choirs for his Volks-Liederbuch (1873, No. 70, pp. 75-6) and O. L. Lange who included an arrangement for voice and piano in his Ausländischer Liederschatz, an anthology of international Volkslieder (1886, No. 42, p. 50). 
All in all this wasn't much. At that time a considerable number of songs regarded as Volkslieder from Scotland and Ireland had become widely known popular standards that regularly appeared in songbooks of all kinds. I will only mention "My Heart's in the Highlands", "Robin Adair", "The Blue Bell of Scotland" and "Here comes the Bard". But for some reason "The Bush aboon Traquair" never was that popular and never became part of the common singing repertoire like these others. Even Silcher's special version with Rückert's appealing poem was surprisingly unsuccessful. Only Bruch's arrangement has survived until today and is still occasionally performed and recorded. Here we can once again see that song's or tune's popularity in one country did not always guarantee its success somewhere else. 

  • Cynthia Cathcart, Tweedside — For Ireland I’d Not Tell Her Name. The Melody and Lyrics of a Traditional Song, 2016, at WireStrungharp 
  • Leith Davis, At "sang about": Scottish song and the challenge of British culture, in: Leith Davis, Ian Duncan & Janet Sorensen (ed.), Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism, Cambridge & New York, 2004, pp. 188-204 
  • Jürgen Erdmann (ed.), 200 Jahre Friedrich Rückert. 1788-1866. Dichter und Gelehrter. Katalog der Ausstellung, Coburg, 1988 
  • Roger Fiske, Scotland In Music: A European Enthusiasm, Cambridge 1983 
  • Matthew Gelbart, The Invention of "Folk Music" and "Art Music". Emerging Categories from Ossian to Wagner, Cambridge 2007 (New perspectives in Music History and Criticism) 
  • Matthew Gelbart, Allan Ramsay, The Idea of 'Scottish Music' and the Beginnings of 'National Music' in Europe, in: Eighteenth-Century Music 9, 2012, pp. 81-108 
  • John Glen, Early Scottish Melodies, Edinburgh 1900, at the Internet Archive 
  • G. F. Graham, The Songs of Scotland Adapted To Their Appropriate Melodies Arranged With Pianoforte Accompaniments By G. F. Graham, T. M. Muddle, J. T. Surenne, H. E. Dibdin, Finlay Dun, &c. Illustrated with Historical, Biographical, and Critical Notices, 3 Vols, Edinburgh, 1848-9, at the Internet Archive 
  • Peter Holman, A Little Light on Lorenzo Bocchi: An Italian in Edinburgh and Dublin, in: Rachel Cowgill & Peter Holman (ed.), Music in the British Provinces, 1690-1914, Aldershot & Burlington, 2007, pp. 61-86 
  • Karen McAulay, Our Ancient National Airs: Scottish Song Collecting from the Enlightenment to the Romantic Era, Farnham 2013  (rev. ed. of: Our Ancient National Airs. Scottish Song Collecting c. 1760 - 1888, PH. D. thesis, University of Glasgow, 2009,online available at
  • David McGuinness & Aaron McGregor, Ramsay's Musical Sources: Reconstructing a Poet's Musical Memory, in Scottish Literary Review 10, 2018, pp. 49-71 [just published] 
  • Musick for Allan Ramsay’s Collection of 71 Scots Songs, set by Alexander Stuart. With an introduction by Kirsteen McCue, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, 2017 (= Scottish Poetry Reprints 11) 
  • Claire Nelson, Tea-Table Miscellanies: The Development of Scotland's Song Culture, 1720-1800, in:Early Music 28, 2000, pp. 596-604 & 607-618 
  • Steve Newman, The Scots Songs of Allan Ramsay: 'Lyrick' Transformation, Popular Culture, and the Boundaries of the Scottish Enlightenment, in: Modern Language Quarterly 63, 2002, pp. 277-314 
  • [OC 1962 =] Orpheus Caledonius: A Collection of Scits Songs Set to Music by William Thomson. Two Volumes in One. Foreword by Henry George Farmer, Hatboro, 1962
  • Bruce Olson, Titles of Tunes in Ballad Operas Published With Music, 1998 ( 
  • Bruce Olson, An Incomplete Index of Scottish Popular Song and Dance Tunes Printed in the 18th Century, 1998 ( [this "concordance" is for me still the best starting-point for any research into the publication history of Scottish tunes] 
  • Murray Pittock, Allan Ramsay and the Decolonisation of Genre, in: The Review of English Studies. New Series 58, 2007, pp. 316-337 
  • Murray Pittock (ed.), The Scots Musical Museum, 2 Vols., Oxford, 2018 (= The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns II & III) [see here II, p. 22, but these short notes about "The Bush aboon Traquair" are disappointing] 
  • Philipp Allison Shelley, Benjamin Beresford, Literary Ambassador, in: PMLA 51, 1936, pp. 476-501
  • William Stenhouse, Illustrations of the Lyric Poetry of Scotland. Originally compiled to accompany the "Scots Musical Museum," and now published separately, with Additional Notes and illustrations, Edinburgh & London, 1853, at the Internet Archive 
  • Sarah Clemmens Waltz, Great Expectations: Beethoven’s Scottish Songs, in: Beethoven Journal 26, 2011, pp. 12-25 
  • James Grant Wilson, The Poets and Poetry of Scotland. From the Earliest to the Present Time, Blackie & Son, London, n. d. [1877], at the Internet Archive

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