We Can Make A Difference - Possibly!


19 sept. 2010, 13h32m

Dear Last.fm Friends,

I wonder if you'd like to help me in a 'Grand Experiment'. If you look on the coolwindchris last.fm page you will see quite a lot of information about some early songs by the Austrian composer, Alban Berg. There are, in fact, four songs which I have been closely involved with: An Leukon (To Leukon), Die Sorglichen (The Worriers), Schliesse Mir Die Augen Beide (Close both my eyes) and Das stille Königreich (The Silent Kingdom). I have completed orchestrations of all these songs for Berg's publishers, Universal Edition AG in Vienna, of which one, An Leukon, has been performed four times to date. Once by international opera star, soprano Renée Fleming, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gianandrea Noseda at the 2007 BBC Proms (Prom 32) and three times (in Ferrara, Italy; Frankfurt, Germany and Cologne, Germany) on which occasions it was sung by mezzo-soprano Petra Lang with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra conducted by Daniel Harding.

So far, so good. At the time these performances were given, only An Leukon was available as performance material on hire from Universal Edition. Now all four songs have been lovingly prepared and printed so hire material is available to any orchestra who wishes to perform these rare Berg gems. Schliesse mir die Augen beide may be familiar to some of you. There are a few recordings around, most notably by Jessye Norman, although only with piano accompaniment. That's how all these songs were left by Berg - for voice and piano alone. However, he did intend to orchestrate three of the songs as part of his set of early song orchestrations which we know and love - the Seven Early Songs. He originally wanted to have ten songs in the set: the additional songs which eventually he dropped were: An Leukon, Schliesse mir die Augen beide and Die Sorglichen. This change of mind happened in 1928 when he orchestrated the other seven songs. Why did he drop these three? It may be because by 1928 he had fallen in love (so he thought) with Hanna Fuchs-Robettin who was married to the brother of Alma Mahler's third husband, Franz Werfel, the writer and playwright. Berg's wife, Helene, was to be (and, indeed, is) the dedicatee of the songs and Berg was conflicted because, if he included the three songs mentioned above, the set would number ten songs in all - yet ten was the secret number he had chosen for his secret 'love' or 'passion' for Hanna. So - he dropped these three songs so that the set totalled seven songs in all rather than ten. Seven was the number he ascribed to Helene since it is the number of the year of their first meeting: 1907. He was probably feeling a lot of guilt, shame and remorse at the time he orchestrated the songs: remember, he was looking back to a time when, in his early twenties, he met 'the girl of his dreams'. Even though he was, in 1928, infatuated with feelings for another woman, he obviously couldn't bring himself to stamp the songs with something that belonged to him and his 'new' love, Hanna - i.e. the number ten.

So - with Universal Edition's vision and generous assistance, which is not said lightly, by the way, we have now the makings of a major Berg 'breakthrough'. By that I mean the recreation of his original intention of all ten songs performed together in the concert hall - ten songs which sing of his love for his wife, Helene, all written in the year of their meeting, 1907. And to achieve this I have an idea in which all kindly souls reading this can help make these songs part of the classical music 'firmament'.

It's very simple really. I will post a new journal in the next few days which will contain the body text of an email which anyone who cares to can send to orchestras around the world. I'll post email addresses for you as well. The plan is to show orchestras that these songs have been neglected for far too long and now have been lovingly (yes, it was a labour of love both for Berg and for me) orchestrated and are ready to take their rightful place next to their seven brothers and sisters. Plus one more song, Das stille Königreich, written in 1908, the year following Alban and Helene's first encounter.

Except - even that is not all. For if you read my journal about Die Sorglichen, you will see I have claimed it is modelled on Arnold Schoenberg's cabaret song, Galathea, which was written for the short-lived Berlin cabaret, the Überbrettl, the cabaret outfit of Ernst von Wolzogen's Buntes Theater. (Schoenberg was the Music Director of the Überbrettl for a scant year or so in 1902/3.) That being my firm opinion, I have orchestrated Galathea and, having got permission from the Schoenberg family, it is now available for concert performance, too. It's a show-stopper, by the way.

I will ask my friends here at last.fm to 'get the word out'. All you have to do after that is send a prepared email to a few orchestra artistic directors and general managers. Nothing could be easier! Having done so, you will be able to bask in the notion that you have helped (possibly) to make classical music history.


  • JukeBoxHero48

    Thank you, Chris...give me a few days & I will get the word out. I have some good classical connections ~ nationwide :-) (USA)

    19 sept. 2010, 18h27m
  • CrybKeeper

    Uh-hm Chris. make that e-mail look hospitable and professional(I know you will) and I will e-mail it to CBS music coordinator and also, send it off to the very right VIPs at Universal studios, NBC, BBC, ABC, BMI, RoadRunner Records, A&M, etc., etc. I have over 1000 private e-mails to all the right people ;-)

    21 sept. 2010, 4h49m
  • CrybKeeper

    Well um, my thoughts are, this music could also be used for a movie soundtrack and later sold as a soundtrack CD....wondering would the rights holders allow me to go forward with something like that? You will need to include the proper contact information in that e-mail

    21 sept. 2010, 4h52m
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