Der Sperling - (2013)
Bertram Kottmann, after a text of Paul Laurence Dunbar
for medium voice and piano
Ein Vöglein klein mit braun' Gefieder
lässt sich an meinem Fenster nieder;
es zwitschert seine kleine Weise,
zehn Mal klopft es ans Fenster leise
und tschilpt aufs Neu und hüpft entlang,
auf dass ich achte seinen Sang;
Doch ich fahr fort, missacht' sein Lied,
bis still und leis' davon es fliegt.
2 pages, circa 3' 45"
The original text in two strophes of Paul Laurence Dunbar is as follows:
A little bird, with plumage brown,
Beside my window flutters down,
A moment chirps its little strain,
Ten taps upon my window-pane,
And chirps again, and hops along,
To call my notice to its song;
But I work on, nor heed its lay,
Till, in neglect, it flies away.
So birds of peace and hope and love
Come fluttering earthward from above,
To settle on life's window-sills,
And ease our load of earthly ills;
But we, in traffic's rush and din
Too deep engaged to let them in,
With deadened heart and sense plod on,
Nor know our loss till they are gone.
German poet and translator Bertram Kottmann has reinterpreted the text beautifully. The sparrows in Berlin sang through the late springtime, as many sparrows do around the world in their many species. The setting is gentle, very slow with the eighth note equal to 80. Throughout the diatonic dominated, and yet F is stressed throughout as well frustrating the impetus to settle in the tonic of C. The form is ABA, with the vocal part absent as the piano takes the last statements solo. At an awareness of the sense of loss brings about a harmonically altered chord, after which the sparrow's "ten" is heard again as a reminder to us all.
The score 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.