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Hosted Projects » Ihr Lieder! Ihr meine guten Lieder! A guide to musical settings for one or two voices of the poetry of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) » Musical settings for one or two voices of Heinrich Heine's works: lists of poems in published order » Musical settings for one or two voices of Heinrich Heine's Vorrede & Junge Leiden (Buch der Lieder) : list of poems in published order » Heine-Lieder : musical settings of Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen » Heine-Lieder : review of Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen / Hensel

Heine-Lieder : review of Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen / Hensel

Composer: Hensel, Fanny Cäcilia
Dates: 1805-1847
Song title: Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen
Opus, no., etc.: -
Music collection title: 16 songs / Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel ; John Glenn Paton, ed. (first publication)
Imprint(s): Van Nuys, Calif.: Alfred, 1995
Source(s) for score: original
1st line of poem: Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen (Go to text)
Source of poem: Buch der Lieder: Junge Leiden: Lieder, Nr.3
Date of composition: 1838 Aug. 7
Nationality of composer: German
Language(s) of text: German; line-by-line and prose English translations given by Paton
Tempo marking: Andante con moto
Key: F major
Time signature: 3/4
No. of measures: 114
Approximate duration: 3 min. 30 sec
Form: Modified strophic: 2 strophes (2 stanzas per strophe), plus a coda
Vocal range: c to a' [c' to a"]
Vocal tessitura: medium: f to d', with fairly frequent forays to f' (Go to chart)
Vocal rhythms: mostly in quarter notes and dotted halves, with occasional short eighth-note melismas of an ornamental nature
Vocal intervals
: much of the intervallic motion is stepwise, but there are many skips ranging in width from a fifth to an octave
Vocal comments: wide-ranging melody; many ornaments: trills, appoggiaturas, etc.; tenor voice more appropriate to text, but music may be more suited to soprano
Textual variants, etc.: numerous repetitions of lines or phrases
Instrumental part(s): Piano part is quite easy; left hand mostly in octaves, a couple of tenth stretches, with bass line usually moving just once per measure; right hand has mostly eighth-note ascending broken chords, while the three interludes, perhaps imitative of bird-song, outline descending triads with chromatic leading tones, all in eighth-notes over an F-major pedal chord.
Summary: This song is remarkable for its lovely, expansive, Italianate melody. It is anything but a "note-per-syllable" setting, having multiple melismas and long-held notes, and there are numerous repetitions of lines or phrases of the poem. For those reasons it is one of the longest settings of this poem; depending on tempos chosen, Schumann's setting comes close. One thing this song does not do is "paint" the text, except perhaps in its unusual use of ornaments, possibly to imitate bird calls, although they appear throughout the song, not just in the birds' stanza. It is also not as overtly sad as other settings. Instead, through its use of long-breathed phrases, expressive skips, semi-operatic ornaments, pauses and repetitions, the final cadenza arcing through a high a', and numerous other elements, it creates and maintains a mood of passionate longing, rather like a miniature operatic scena. Conservative early Romantic harmonic vocabulary, with several tonicizations and a few excursions to related keys.

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Copyright © 2000, Peter W. Shea


Last Edited: 26 April 2012