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Thursday, March 06, 2008


Well…. Here Goes Nothing

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel is plain nuts. I can’t believe that this song was written in the 1800’s the harmonies are so wacky I just don’t even know what to do. The poem “ Bitte” was written by the Austrian poet Nikolaus Lenau. He was born in 1802 and died in 1850 during the Romantic era. His inspiration for his are lie in his inability to separate his life, and his depression, from each other and his words. The poem

(Rough Translation of Text by: Carly LaForest)

Weil' auf mir, du dunkles Auge, While on me you dark eye
Über deine ganze Machht, Over your whole being
Ernste, milde, träumerische, Sincere, mild, dreamy
Unergündlich süße Nacht! ?????? sweet night

Nimm mit deinem Zauberdunkel ???? with your magic dark
Diese Welt von hinnen mir, this world from ???? me
Dass du über meinem Leben that you over my life
Einsam schwebest für und für. once floating for and for (forever?)

The poem has a very sweet and perhaps ethereal mood when read with out music, however the harmonies which are written by Hansel tint this mood greatly. The music is written in Ab Major key but rarely sound that way. She frequently uses borrowed chord as well as secondary dominants and which make the poem turn into something completely different from what it began as. In measure 9- 16, Hensel repeated the ending stanzas of each verse (sweet night and once floating forever) accompanied by a variant of very strange harmonies. In measures 13 and 14 on the words night and (for)ever the harmonic rhythm triples and the effect is one which is both eerie and peaceful simultaneously.

1 comment:

Scott said...

See some of the other students' analyses, and my comment on Rachel's post.

The poem could be interpreted as about suicide (dark eyes and magic darkness = death), or at least escapism (take from me this world), or about love as you suggest. Hensel's harmonies suggest she is going with one of the more pessimistic interpretations, especially with the repetition of the stanzas that you point out.

Don't forget to talk about performance ideas.