I'm transcribing one of my favorite pieces ever for viola and piano. I'm so happy!
I first thought of this piece a few months ago, when I was asked to play at the funeral of a family friend who loved Beethoven. I couldn't figure out what to play on viola alone - everything that sounded appealing wanted a piano. Finally I settled on the first two minutes of this song. Of course it's much better with piano, but the melody itself is beautiful and soaring enough to sound good, at least. And, it was the fellow who passed away who loved Beethoven - the funeral-goers wouldn't really tell the difference.
I found that I loved the song enough that I could pretty much play the whole thing by ear. Here's what I warmed up on.
Here's the recording I listened to a billion times.
Beethoven didn't write many "Lieder." In fact, he had a hard time with it. He couldn't find texts that he liked. He looked long and hard for the Schiller text he used for "Ode to Joy." And, he was so pleased with the text of this poem Adelaide that he wrote the poet a breathless letter of thanks.
Beethoven does the text honor - he portrays all the little scenes with the rushing waves and fluting nightingales, and the breathless joy of wandering in a garden transfixed by light and the image of the beloved, and then the weird 19th century excitement to die so you can be eternal and your love can bloom on little purple leaves - it's interesting how straightforwardly excited the music is at the end, no hint of morbidity. Like a dog excited to go to the park or something. Maybe (!!! maybe) it gives a hint about the general 19th century approach towards deathly topics. Today we talk about death dryly and ironically, or else gothically.
Schubert also set the same text. It wasn't such a miraculous revelation to him, and is not one of his well-known songs. His setting is nice. It's so ~Biedermeier~. It's such a parlorpiece.
He and Beethoven share a similar ecstatic joy when sighing the FIVE syllables of "Ah-deh-la-ee-deh." And they share a lot of the same inspiration from the text, and use not dissimilar strategies. There's plenty of nice moments in Schubert's song worth chewing on. But Beethoven's song is a much bigger deal to me, and maybe objectively.
Schubert doesn't have quite the eagerness about the grave blooming as Beethoven does.
Here's lyrics and translation by the way. For my insatiable readers
The real thrill in transcribing this is in having intimacy with the piano part, which I have heard so so so many times. Writing it out like this is like meeting your online bestie in person.
I think I will not be doing ecstatic analysis of the piece in this particular blog post. Instead I shall enumerate my goals for transcribing it.
Well, first of all, it just sits on the viola really nicely. I'm gonna sell it in the noteflight marketplace.
Secondly, I want to take the contracted form and see if I can work it into a true viola solo piece, by embellishing and elaborating it to imply more of the harmony.
Thirdly - and this is least likely to happen, but it does hang out in my imagination - I always envision a viola ensemble playing pretty much anything I transcribe. Wouldn't that be fun? Like if a bunch of violists were friends? I tried this once with the arpeggione sonata. Actually I handwrote the parts while flying on a plane. Imagine doing anything on a plane now! I think this was back in the days when you could check luggage for free and so getting something out of your bag wasn't an act of congress. Anyway, I would actually like to follow through with that on arpeggione. I think it's good for people to get deeply acquainted with the "accompaniment" parts to whatever they play, and it's missing from standard education. Plus I just think viola ensembles sound great when they're in tune.
I have a viola ensemble arrangement of the opening of some Haydn concerto movement. It's GREAT. Actually I have lots of little proto-viola arrangements. But... to be honest I don't think I need to add Adelaide to that. Viola+piano is good enough.
The fellow who does music at the church I like to play at doesn't like instrumental versions of songs with *secular texts*. I get it but I think it's a shame. First of all, literally no one knows the text. Secondly, people throw religious texts on originally secular music all the time. When I went to Christian camp we put christian music on top of Louie Louie and all kinds of stuff. Okay actually I misremembered that, we put porta-potty lyrics on top of it. But I'm sure it happens all the time still. Anyway, if anyone wants to put Christian text onto the melody of Adelaide, please hit me up. "A-deh-la-ee-deh" becomes Ave Maria without much of a struggle. hahaha
I'm probably about halfway done if you count revision time and I've put in about two hours. It feels GREAT. I feel like an entire person. And how much time does it take to make a blog post about it, and upload fussy little videos? That's part of being an artist in today's day and age, baby. I gotta get on the trending hasthags. #Trend #Beethoven #Trendscription #Viola #BratscheBaby #BhadBhratsche It's called Search Engine Optimization look it up sweetie