"...BUT MOM, I DON'T LIKE GERMAN LIEDER!!!"
So, you're probably getting the idea by now that I didn't like a lot of things. I didn't like opera, classical music or classical singing. Now let's add German Lieder to that list, and any other song I had to sing in a foreign language. ("lieder" is the German word for "songs")
Now, why was I such a brat about all this? Well, because I did not understand or appreciate German Lieder, French art songs, or Italian arias. I didn't realize how artfully composers expressed the text in their music, so that even people who did not know German or French or Italian could get something out of the song.
At Eastman, I am only just beginning to learn how to analyze German Lieder and fully appreciate the musical genius that goes into composing a seemingly "simple" art song. I recently performed "Fruhlingsmorgen" by Gustav Mahler on an Eastman voice department recital. Let's analyze it a little!
Watch this video. Without knowing anything about the translation or even perhaps what the title means, what were your first impressions of the song? (I really want to know!! Leave a comment!!)
Now, here are some things to think about on your next listening
*The text tells the story of someone describing a beautiful spring morning, and trying to wake up the person to whom he or she is speaking. You can read a full translation here.
*"Fruhlingsmorgen" means "Spring morning". Can you hear how the lilting piano introduction in a major key paints a picture of a sunny, green spring morning?
*Listen for the words "steh auf." This means "get up" in German. Notice here how the notes Mahler wrote for these words jump upwards, like someone jumping up out of bed.
*"Die Lerche" means "the lark" in German. Listen here and see if you can hear the lark singing in the music.
*Here, the singer is describing the bees and beetles buzzing (bienen means "bees"). Listen to the fast, oscilating piano accompaniment and the octave jump in the vocal line. Doesn't it sound like busy, buzzing bees?
These are just a few of the cool things about this song. Believe me, people have written books and books on these German Lieder-- this post barely scratches the surface! Funny that before, I thought that German Lieder were boring...even though there's so much to discover in one of these 4 minute pieces.