A Tune based on a Swiss folk song

Wednesday 27th March
In the morning we always like to listen to ABC Classic with Russel Torrance.
At 8:30 this morning we listened on ABC Classic to this:


Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, Concerto in A Major for Basset Clarinet K. 622: II. Adagio

Craig Hill (clarinet) + Australian Brandenburg Orchestra

Both Peter and I staight away did think of the lyrics of  -Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden – –

It is a catching melody with catching lyrics. We both remembered having known the lyrics when we were children. We thought about how it would be interesting to find out how Mozart did incorporate the melody in his concerto. Sure enough now we know that the music is based on the tune of a Swiss folk song and the lyrics, written by Ludwig Uhland in 1809 are inspired by what happened during the Tyrolean Rebellion of 1809!
Following is some information I took from Google, and the videos are on YouTube. I like to brouse like this on the internet. It is truly amazing that so much information can be found there.

Published on Mar 26, 201

“Der gute Kamerad” (“The good Comrade”), also known by its incipit as Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden (“I had a comrade”) is a traditional lament of the German Armed Forces.The text was written by German poet Ludwig Uhland in 1809. Its immediate inspiration was the deployment of Badener troops against the Tyrolean Rebellion. In 1825, the composer Friedrich Silcher set it to music, based on the tune of a Swiss folk song.”
Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nicht.
Die Trommel schlug zum Streite,
Er ging an meiner Seite
In gleichem Schritt und Tritt.
Eine Kugel kam geflogen,
Gilt’s mir oder gilt es dir?
Ihn hat es weggerissen,
Er liegt vor meinen Füßen
Als wär’s ein Stück von mir.
Will mir die Hand noch reichen,
Derweil ich eben lad’.
“Kann dir die Hand nicht geben,
Bleib du im ew’gen Leben
Mein guter Kamerad!”

The Clarinet Concerto in A, K622, completed in 1791, the year of Mozart’s death, marked his farewell to instrumental music. It was also the first clarinet concerto to be written by a major composer – except that Mozart did not write it for the clarinet at all.

In fact, it is rare that we ever hear this most famous of wind concertos played on the instrument Mozart intended – the basset clarinet, a clarinet that has four semitones added to its lower range.

The inventor of the basset clarinet, and its leading virtuoso, was Mozart’s friend and fellow Mason, Anton Stadler, for whom Mozart had written the Clarinet Quintet in A, in 1789. “Never,” wrote  Mozart to Stadler, “would I have thought that a clarinet could be capable of imitating the human voice as deceptively as it is imitated by you. Truly your instrument has so soft and lovely a tone that nobody with a heart could resist it.”

Far from being entirely the product of Mozart’s miraculously inspired final year, the first 199 bars of the clarinet concerto are identical to an abandoned concerto for basset horn (an instrument Stadler also played) that he began as early as 1787. By looking at this fragment (preserved at Winterthur, Switzerland) we can see, from the scribbles and erasures, that Mozart was uncharacteristically lacking in decision, often changing his mind and obviously under stress.

What may have stimulated Mozart into completing the abandoned basset horn concerto for Stadler and his basset clarinet, was his journey to Prague for the premiere of La Clemenza di Tito. One of his travelling companions was his pupil Süssmayr, who revealed that he was writing a basset clarinet concerto for Stadler. Mozart could not allow himself to be outdone. The concerto was written in Vienna some time between the end of September and the beginning of October 1791. The completed score was sent off to Stadler in Bohemia and it received its first performance at Stadler’s benefit concert in the Prague Theatre on October 16, 1791. Seven weeks later, Mozart was dead.

The concerto was not published until 1802, with the solo part adapted for the clarinet rather than the obsolete basset clarinet. The whereabouts of the original manuscript are unknown.

In Wikipedia you can find a number of interesting facts about the TYROLEAN REBELLION of 1809.

3 thoughts on “A Tune based on a Swiss folk song

  1. Wonderful! Beautiful!
    I love classical music and opera!
    I will forever be in awe of, and gratitude for, these amazing composers who created life and deep emotion with music notes!
    HUGS!!! 🙂
    PS…Oh, I love so many of the composers, but especially Claude Debussy.

  2. Of course I’m familiar with both the Mozart Clarinet Concerto (have it on several CD’s) and Ich hatt’ eine Kamaraden – but I had never connected the two! Nor do I know the Swiss folk tune despite living in Switzerland for so many years. So this post was an eye-opener to me, as well as a very rich addition to my breakfast time – Mozart and Müesli! Thank you, Uta. Lovely!

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