Ludwig van Beethoven

Der Bardengeist, for voice & piano, WoO 142

    Description by Robert Cummings

    The year 1813 was a time of liberation for Beethoven, owing to the then-recent defeat of Napoleon, which he celebrated in several works including Wellington's Victory. But this quiet, mournful song, also comes from this period (actually, shortly after the composition of Wellington's Victory), and its entirely different nature might be taken as evidence of the composer's considerable versatility--or, perhaps, as his retreat from the public celebration and bombast in the larger work. He also wrote another song that same year, Der Gesang der Nachtigal (The Song of the Nightingale), on texts by J. G. Herder, and may have worked on the second version of An die Geliebte, not to be confused with the better-known An die ferne Geliebte.

    At any rate, Beethoven wrote the music to Der Bardengeist on texts by Franz Rudolph Herrmann (1787-1823). This song is strophic in style and consists of eight five-line stanzas. The music can fit on one page, as it consists of only nineteen bars, the vocal part of only ten. Beethoven marked the score Mässig langsam (moderately slow) and provides soft, warm accompaniment. While the composer here obviously makes no attempt at anything grandiose or powerfully dramatic, he does effectively capture the mood of Herrmann's sweetly melancholy text.

    Der Bardengeist was first published in Vienna in 1813.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2012 Capriccio Records C 5140
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2010 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 5099945543
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453 782-2GCB3
    Cascade Records 2267
    Brilliant 93525/78