Art Song Sampler

There IS a pianist in the photo, please click to enlarge.

Here are many songs that you know but you may not know that they’re art songs. Let’s begin with a song that people recognize, even if they don’t know that it’s Tosti’s Serenata. (See the text and translation below). Next Plaisir d’Amour which I think was used in a commercial; in any case, an exquisitely beautiful song. Are you enjoying these songs? One that’s everyone’s favorite is On Wings Of Song by Mendelssohn. Marilyn Horne uses a violin transcription of this song as an introduction to the broadcast of her Foundation’s recitals. Did you know the name of this following one by Tchaikowsky? None But Lonely Heart I’m not sure why we know it, but it seems that it’s a part of our shared experience. That’s probably the case with the next song: On the Road to Mandalay. How do we know these songs? Please send me your guesses as to how we first came to hear these songs.

Try the following song on for size: Sorento Maybe from a movie? Here’s another song in English that everyone knows: Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair I’ve been told that this next song by Grieg, known also as Ich liebe dich, Jeg Elsker Dig Did you recognize it? How many weddings have you been to? In Scandinavia? OK, let’s get serious and enjoy Ave Maria by Schubert. We often hear this with Latin words, but Schubert wrote it to German poetry. Next, Finiculi Finicula which is just a happy Neapolitan song that deserves its popularity. Cellists will know the following song because it’s been transcribed for them (as well as almost every other instrument!): Apres un Reve (or After a Dream), by Fauré.

I hope you’re enjoying these well-known songs, and we end with one that every tenor loves to sing: O Sole Mio (which just translates, O My Sun). Can you guess who was singing that, or other songs on this page? Send me your guesses, ok? As a P.S., we’ll hear yet another version of the Brahms Lullaby.

Here are some the words and translations for these songs.

Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846 – 1916) wrote the music and Giovanni Alfredo Cesareo (1861 – 1937), the words. The complete title is “La Serenata”
Vola, o serenata:
La mia diletta è sola,
e, con la bella testa abbandonata,
posa tra le lenzuola:
O serenata, vola.Splende Pura la luna,
l’ale il silenzio stende,
e dietro I veni dell’alcova
bruna la lampada s’accende.
Pure la luna splende.Vola, o serenata:
La mia diletta è sola,
ma sorridendo ancor mezzo assonnata,
torna fra le lenzuola:
O serenata, vola.L’onda sogna su ‘l lido,
e ‘l vento su la fronda;
e a’ baci miei ricusa ancore un nido
la mia signora bionda.
Sogna su ‘l lido l’onda.

Fly, o serenade:
My delight is alone,
& with her beautiful abandoned head,
Fly between her sheets:
O serenade, fly.The moon shines brightly,
Silence extends its wings,
And behind the shadows of the dark
Alcove the lamp burns.
The moon shines brightly.Fly, o serenade:
My delight is alone,
But, still smiling half muted,
Return between her sheets:
O serenade , fly.The wave dreams on the shore,
And the wind on the branch;
And my blonde lady still denies
A place for my kisses.
The wave dreams on the shore.

The poetry for Plaisir d’amour was written by Jean Pierre Claris de Florian (1755 – 1794) and the music was by (and get ready for this!) Jean Paul Egide Martine, né Johann Paul Aegidius Schwarzendorf (1741 – 1816). This is considered one of the first true art songs. Each strophe has different music to reflect the words.
Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment:
Chagrin d’amour dure toute
la vie.J’ai tout quitté pour l’ingrate Sylvie;
Elle me quitte et prend un autre amant.Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment:
Chagrin d’amour dure toute
la vie.”Tant que cette eau coulera doucement
Vers ce ruisseau qui borde la
Je t’aimerai,” me répétait Sylvie,
L’eau coule encor, elle a changé pourtant.

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment:
Chagrin d’amour dure toute
la vie.

The pleasure of love lasts but a moment;
The regret of love lasts one’s whole life.I gave up all for the ungrateful Sylvie;
She leaves me and takes another
lover.The pleasure of love lasts but a moment;
The regret of love lasts one’s whole life.”As long as this water flows sweetly
Toward this brook that borders the plain
I will love you,” repeated Sylvie to me.
The water still flows, she has changed however.

The pleasure of love lasts but a moment;
The regret of love lasts one’s whole life.

Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, or “On Wings of Song” was written to the poetry of Heinrich Heine (1797 – 1856) by Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847). Many other composers have set the same poetry, but none so successfully as Felix.
Auf Flügeln des Gesanges,
Herzliebchen, trag ich dich fort,
Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges,
Dort weiß ich den schönsten
Ort;Dort liegt ein rotblühender Garten
Im stillen Mondenschein,
Die Lotosblumen erwarten
Ihr trautes Schwesterlein.Die Veilchen kichern und kosen,
Und schaun nach den Sternen empor,
Heimlich erzählen die Rosen
Sich duftende Märchen ins Ohr.Es hüpfen herbei und lauschen
Die frommen, klugen Gazelln,
Und in der Ferne rauschen
Des heiligen Stromes Well’n.

Dort wollen wir niedersinken
Unter dem Palmenbaum,
Und Liebe und Ruhe trinken,
Und träumen seligen Traum.

On wings of song,
my love, I’ll carry you away
to the fields of the Ganges
Where I know the most beautiful place.There lies a red-flowering garden,
in the serene moonlight,
the lotus-flowers await
Their beloved sister.The violets giggle and cuddle,
and look up at the stars,
The roses tell each other secretly
Their fragrant fairy-tales in their ears.They jump right by and listen
The gentle, clever gazelles,
and in the distance murmurs
The waves of the holy stream.

There we will lie down,
under the palm tree,
and drink of love and peacef
And dream a blessed dream.

Net, tol’ko tot,
kto znal svidan’ja, zhazhdu,
pojmjot, kak ja stradal
i kak ja strazhdu.
Gljazhu ja vdal’…
net sil, tusknejet oko…Akh, kto menja ljubil
i znal – daleko!
Akh, tol’ko tot,
kto znal svidan’ja zhazhdu,
pojmjot, kak ja stradal
i kak ja strazhdu.
Vsja grud’ gorit…
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!
Allein und abgetrennt
Von aller Freude,
Seh ich ans Firmament
Nach jener Seite.Ach! der mich liebt und kennt,
Ist in der Weite.
Es schwindelt mir, es brennt
Mein Eingeweide.
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt
Weiß, was ich leide!
Only one who knows longing
Knows what I suffer!
Alone and cut off
From all joy,
I look into the firmament
In that direction.Ah! he who loves and knows me
Is far away.
I am reeling,
My entrails are burning.
Only one who knows longing
Knows what I suffer!
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