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A Small Tour of Special Features
Adding new material to the Archive is not always completely
Exploring our holdings, visitors might see texts with copious
footnotes, alternate versions of the same poem, texts marked as
adaptations or variants, singable translations that depart
starkly from the literal meaning of their originals,
single vocal pieces made up of more than one poem,
pieces that omit stanzas of a poem or even rearrange them, and
translations of translations that have returned to the original
language but are surprisingly different from the original poem.
Below we showcase some of the fascinating relationships between
Texts, Settings, and Translations, and how they are represented
on the website.
Many titles. When the author of a text chooses one title
and a composer who sets the text to music chooses another title, the
headline shown at the top becomes the italicized first line.
The various titles can then be seen below the text, next to the author
and the composer name(s).
When possible, we show translated titles in the footnote area of a
given translation, for example in this translation
to German of a poem by John Keats.
Textual variations. Composers often make changes to
a text they are setting to music. When possible, we show the
differences between the poem as originally published and the text as
sung (except for simple repetitions of phrases or additions of "oh!"),
with the alterations made by composers appearing as footnotes.
Red and green labels beside the author and composer names indicate
whether the source material was verified yet. You can read more
about how this works here.
In this text by Hermann Hesse set by Immo Schneider, two changes can be seen.
When possible, we add notes about how each translation
might be affected by these small changes.
Here is another example with many footnotes: a text by Gottfried August Bürger set by many composers. Not
all of the settings have yet been checked against the original.
Selections. Sometimes only a part of a poem will be set to music, for example, this text by Esaias Tegnér set by Bernhard Crusell, which uses only two stanzas. When we view the entire song cycle, of which this is the third selection, the extra stanzas are omitted.
This particular text has also been translated into German and English, several
stanzas of which (not the same stanzas as Crusell) were set to music
by Maude Valérie White. On this page we can see the texts laid out in parallel, with the German on the right and the Swedish on the left; and on this page we can see the English laid out in parallel with the German on the left.
Stanzas may also be re-ordered
in their song-cycle presentation, as can be seen in Clara Schumann's setting "Geheimes Flüstern hier und dort", whose stanzas are visually re-ordered in the song-cycle view in the third selection.
Vocal pieces made up of multiple texts. Sometimes one vocal piece is made up of more than one stand-alone poem, or parts of different poems. For example, Franz Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen is made up of four of the ten stanzas of a poem by Wilhelm Müller titled "Der Berghirt", two stanzas by Wilhelmina Christiane von Chézy, and a final stanza adapted from the second stanza of a different poem by Wilhelm Müller titled "Liebesgedanken".
Anton Rubinstein's Gott hieß die Sonne glühen is taken from two separate poems, each of which has been set many times by other composers: Gott hieß die Sonne glühen and Und was die Sonne glüht.
These multi-text settings may also be included in a song cycle, for example, "In Erwartung des Freundes", the third selection of Anna Hegeler's Vier Lieder nach chinesischen Texten.
Adaptations. Sometimes a composer makes changes that are too numerous to list as footnotes, for example, part of the sixth selection from Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
This text is an adaptation of Hans Bethge's Der Abschied des Freundes, with changes to almost every line.
Settings published in many languages. Sometimes a vocal piece is published with a singable translation embedded in the score. We include these alongside regular translations but also add beside the composer's name a link to show that a text is, for example, "also set in Russian",
as we saw at the top of the page in
Gott hieß die Sonne glühen. We can also see the link in this view of the first poem.
A list of language abbreviations can be found here.
Alternate versions. If different versions of a text were
published as stand-alone poems, the texts will appear as alternate
versions as opposed to adaptations. For example, Pushkin published two versions of the poem "Роза" (often transliterated, "Roza"). Mikhail Glinka set the first version, and Nikolai Medtner set the second version, with some additional changes shown as footnotes.
As another example of alternate versions, in trying to locate and
verify the source text for Mathilde de Rothschild's setting Ein Herz in mir!, we found two possible candidates had been published, neither of which was an exact match:
Das Herz in mir and
Mein Herz in mir.
Translations: there and back again. Sometimes a text will be translated and set to music in translation, but because the translation is loose, we will include a translation back to the original language to show how it has changed. For example, Wilhelm Gerhard's translation of Robert Burns's "My Heart's in the Highlands" attempts to follow the rhythm and rhyme-scheme of the original, losing some literal meaning along the way, as we can see in the second line, where "a-chasing the deer" becomes "in Waldes Revier". The translation of the German to a more literal English, therefore, is included here for comparison, and that section of the line is translated "on the forested hunting-grounds".
Jean de La Fontaine's La cigale et la fourmi, itself an adaptation of a
famous fable by Aesop often titled "The grasshopper and the ant", was
adapted by Ivan Krylov into a slightly longer poem
titled Стрекоза и Муравей, or "The dragonfly and the
ant". Its re-translation back to
French shows many changes.
Page created: 2016-02-27