Saturday, February 23, 2013

[CORRECTION] On Tchaikovsky's song, "Legend" (and quick stormwater note)


Following from my preceding post: I couldn't catch all the lyrics in a Tchaikovsky song and thought I heard some 19th century Christian bluster with an anti-Semitic slant. I asked a friend who has expertise in Russian literature, and he recalled actually performing the song with a choir at the University of Wisconsin many years ago. The lyrics are actually taken from a body of Russian apocryphal stories about Christ as a child before he became a famous savior. In this particular story, simply called "Legend" in my CD set of Christoff in Russian song, the young Christ has a rose garden, and he gets pricked by a thorn while tending it one day. (I can hear a line about the drops of blood, "kapli krovi".) The incident is an omen of the "Jewish king's" crown of thorns. ///CORRECTION: My friend sent the lyrics in the mail, and now I'm straight on the story. The "yevreyskikh" I can pick out with my smattering of Russian is in reference to the Jewish children who show up at the garden gate and ask why "Khristos-mladenets" is growing roses...."Byl u Khristos-mladentsa sad...The Christ-child had a garden..." (goes the song's opening line).///

Whatever your feelings about that might be, the melody by Tchaikovsky is very beautiful, and his younger fellow composer, Anton Arensky, lets us enjoy it without words in his Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky.

I can't avoid mentioning this: My friend's choir leader so many years ago was a Russian woman who had studied under Nadia Boulanger in Paris. (Boulanger shows up as the respected and influential teacher in the life stories of so many early to middle 20th century composers and musicians.)

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A short post today, as I have some other things to take care of. Well, one of them is planning for my rain garden in progress, which might lead to a post about the  Stormwater Management Forum at Slayton House the other night. For now, I'll leave a website address: http://columbiawatershed.org/