Am Weihnachtsabend

 

 

Am Weihnachtsabend - (2012)    

Joachim Ringelnatz

for soprano or mezzo soprano and piano


 

Ein armer Junge jammert im Bette:
»Ach, wenn ich doch auch einen Weihnachtsbaum hätte!!«
Kaum hatte er diese Worte gesprochen,
Kommt mancherlei aus dem Ofen gekrochen:

Ein Schaukelpferd, Wagen und Bleisoldaten,
Eine Trommel, ein Buch, ein Kaufmannsladen,
Ein Eisenbahnzug und ein Reifenspiel,
Ein Luftschiff, ein Fahrrad, ein Automobil
Und Äpfel und Nüsse und Zuckerschaum
Und ganz zuletzt noch ein Weihnachtsbaum.
Die Engel im Himmel singen mit Macht
Das Festlied: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht.

4 pages, circa 2' 30"


Joachim Ringelnatz

 

A poor youth cries in bed:
"Oh, if I could only have a Christmas tree!"
No sooner had he said these words,
Then out of the chimneypiece emerged:

A rocking horse, a wagon and lead soldiers,
A drum, a book, and more bundles of toys,
A train and bouncing balls,
An air ship, a bicycle, an automobile,
And apples and nuts and sugar treats,
And at the very last came the Christmas tree.
The angels in heaven sang with joy
The festive words: Silent night, holy night.

 

paraphrase by the composer

 

 

Culture easily mixes religious and secular images, as does Ringelnatz here in a word-pictorial fashion. Of the various stories which we tell ourselves, the appeal of one's wishes being answered is universal as well as particular. Setting aside issues of materialism and such, this is a magical story of poverty answered by plenty. So are the hopes of men worldwide.

 

The setting begins in C with some non-diatonic alterations, and cadences on a lightly polytonal A flat, that its E flat point to the D sharp as leading tone for the E minor to follow. The first lines in E minor paint the predicament, and the clear break into E major announces the narrative's change of scene.

 

 

A white-key glissando leads back to C major, as the itemization of the toys begins, a magical parade to the eyes of a child.

 

 

The toy parade is broken into two musical verses, ending with repetitions of the phrase, "Und ganz zuletzt noch ein Weihnachtsbaum." The glissando leading to B this time becomes the fulcrum to E major as a lyrical reflection on joy sums up the end of this little tale which ends -- as such narratives must -- with the hoped for image of peace.

 

 

The score for Am Weihnachtsabend is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.

 

Am Weihnachtsabend