RC 75 Lied der Spinnerin (“Es sang vor langen Jahren”)

  • Brentano, Clemens
  • soprano and orchestra
  • 1906-11-03 00:00:00.0 - 1906-11-06 00:00:00.0
  • duration ca. 4:30

In October 1906 Diepenbrock accompanied the soprano Aaltje Noordewier-Redingius when she was rehearsing the final scene of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. When the singer decided not yet to try her hand at the demanding part of Brünnhilde (BD V:229), Diepenbrock orchestrated several of his songs for her, so she could sing them at two concerts with the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Willem Mengelberg, which were scheduled for November that year. Besides Wenn ich Ihn nur habe (If Only I Have Him, RC 45/72) – one of the Geistliche Lieder (Sacred Songs) for soprano and organ on texts by Novalis written in November and December 1898 – Diepenbrock orchestrated two other songs from the same period: Ik ben in eenzaamheid niet meer alleen (I Am No Longer Alone in Solitude, RC 41/73) and Lied der Spinnerin (Song of the Spinner, RC 42).

Diepenbrock chose to orchestrate this work (3-6 November 1906) for a small ensemble of horn and strings without cellos and double basses. Most likely this choice was based on ideas he had at the time the song was conceived (April 1898), as the comment “Streichquartett” (String Quartet) was written on one of the autographs of the piano version of this song (see RC 42).

The orchestration of the Lied der Spinnerin is characterised by simplicity. The sound of the strings, with divided violin parts and no cellos and basses, underlines the text inexplicitly, con sordino and pp almost throughout. The programme notes – most likely written by Diepenbrock himself – comment:

The violin and viola accompaniment con sordino depicts the quivering rays of moonlight, in which the spinner sings her song. Every now and then a single horn (natural or stopped horn) plays long notes. (BD V:702)

At the concert of 22 November 1906 Aaltje Noordewier also sang another Dutch song, Zij sluimert (She Slumbers, RC 51/60), which had been orchestrated six years earlier. Although in her diary Elisabeth Diepenbrock calls the performance of the Lied der Spinnerin a fiasco and a huge disappointment (BD V:267), due to the tempo in which Mengelberg started off the Spinnerin, there was also positive response. For example, Diepenbrock’s friend Hondius van den Broek was full of admiration for the orchestration: It sounds exceptionally fine, the horn and the violins. (BD V:268)

Désirée Staverman