Ludwig van Beethoven

So oder so, song for voice & piano, WoO 148

    Description by John Palmer

    Written in 1817, Beethoven's "So oder so" ("So or So") was first printed in the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, vol. 2, of 1817. The song was also published singly by Simrock in the same year. Occasionally, the song is referred to as "Nord oder Süd" ("North or South") after its opening line.

    Few recordings include all six of Carl Lappe's strophes, but most feature at least the first and last. The first strophe tells us that, as long as the soul is strong, the cold of the north can only strengthen us. Further strophes give similar lessons: Where we live is not important, for happiness comes from within. Whether we are rich or poor does not matter; those who truly enjoy what they have are happy. Pale skin is not a sign of lifelessness, for energy shines through the eyes. Age does not mean anything if the spirit is fresh.

    Featuring a meter of 6/8 and in F Major, "So oder so" is in simple strophic form-each strophe is set to the same music. The skillfully crafted melody reaches a high point on F natural at the middle of the strophe and descends to an F an octave lower just before the end, only to have the entire range of the melody encompassed in the last few words. As he does in An die ferne Geliebte, Beethoven relaxes the tensions of the classical style by emphasizing the subdominant instead of the dominant (the harmony four steps above the tonic versus that five steps above), especially at the sustained B-Flat-major chord near the end of each strophe, just before the return of the opening line.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94630
    2012 Capriccio Records C 5140
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94052
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93525
    2007 Cascade Records 2200
    2007 Brilliant Classics 93200
    2003 Berlin Classics 0020842
    1997 DG Deutsche Grammophon 453 782-2GCB3
    Cascade Records 2268
    Brilliant 93525/77