Monday, January 01, 2007

Mahler for dummies

This week our orchestra is performing Gustav Mahler's song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magical Horn). The singer is baritone Thomas Hampson, and the German texts will be translated and projected behind the stage. Playing in the orchestra, though, we have to figure out some translations for ourselves.

This is especially problematic when playing Mahler, since his German instructions tend to be as long and complex as his music. (All the simple stuff is in good old familiar Italian, but if he wants something weird, it's sure to be in German.) I did my homework and looked up these expressions at the online New English-German Dictionary. I'm not so great with German syntax, though, and all these endings and modifiers tend to mess me up. At least one term ("Marschartig") had no translation at all.

  • Marschierend, in einem fort = Marching, on and on
  • Vorschläge so schnell wie möglich = Grace notes as fast as possible
  • Sich merklich mäßigend = markedly held back
  • Etwas gemessener als zu Anfang = somewhat more measured, as at the beginning
  • Marschartig = ? no translation
  • Etwas langsamer = somewhat slower
  • Verträumt. Leise = dreamy, softly
  • Etwas zurückhaltend = somewhat more restrained
  • Sehr gehalten = very calmly
  • Gemessen, dumpf. Nicht schleppen = Measured, stuffy. Don't rush
  • Bedeutend langsamer = considerably slower
  • Leidenshaftlich = passionate

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Marschartig" can be roughly translated into forward-moving. Hope that helps.