Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Shostakovich - Spanish Songs

The Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 was fought between two major groups, the Republicans who were to the left politically, and the Nationals who were to the right politically. The Nationals were led by the fascist Francisco Franco who was aided by Nazi Germany and fascist Italy while the Republicans were aided by communist Russia.  The conflict was a very complex political and military situation but in essence it was a battle of ideologies, Fascist versus Communist.  In the end, the Nationals and Franco were victorious, and with that came an exodus of orphans of dead Republican fighters. Among the countries that took in these orphans was communist Russia.

These expatriated Spanish children brought with them the traditional songs and music of their native country, and through one of Shostakovich's friends (who was also a singer) he became acquainted with this music after the friend had recorded a Spanish singer and guitarist as he played the songs on a street corner. The text set to the tunes Shostakovich heard were taken from a volume of Spanish poems translated into Russian. Shostakovich wrote simple and quite conventional arrangements for these tunes to ensure that the tunes themselves would be the main focus.

Farewell To Granada
Farewell Granada, my Granada,
I have to leave you forever!
Farewell, dear place, so pleasing to my eye,
farewell forever! Ah!
The memories of you will be my only consolation,
my dear place, my home place!
I am forever pierced with sorrow,
all I care for is lost,
my love is gone into the darkness of the grave,
and my life is gone too...Ah!
I am annoyed with what's around me, I can't live as before
in the place where my youth was so bright!

Little Stars
Under the old cypresses
the water near the shore is gleaming.
I am coming to my sweetheart with my guitar
to teach her songs.
But my teaching will not be free:
I charge her as kiss for each note.
Strangely, in the morning she learns everything
except the notes!
Pity, it's too late to start again...
Pity, it's getting daylight already...
Pity, the stars over the bay
do not tremble in the daylight.

The limitless sky is covered with little stars,
they are abundant in the starry night.
I tell my sweetheart
the names of all these numberless stars.
I value my knowledge
and charge her a kiss for every name.
Strange, the lesson seems easy to her,
everything but the stars!
Pity, it's too late to start again...
pity, it's getting daylight already...
Pity, the stars over the bay
do not tremble in the daylight.

The First Time I Met You
Once you gave me some water near the stream,
it was fresh and cold like snow in the blue mountains' canyons.
your eyes are darker than night,
and your braids have the aroma of wild mint petals.

See the round-dance spinning again,
hear the tambourine rattling, jingling and singing.
Each dancer is leading his girlfriend,
people are looking at them in admiration.
Beat, tambourine, beat, rattle like thunder!
I am dancing with my sweetheart,
her ribbon is as blue as the sky!
Beat, tambourine, beat! Beat, tambourine! Beat tambourine!

I'll never forget the first time I met you,
tender words, and swarthy hand, and shining black eyes...
It was then that I understood
that I loved you and would love you forever!

See the round-dance spinning again,
hear the tambourine rattling, jingling and singing.
Each dancer is leading his girlfriend,
people are looking at them in admiration.
Beat, tambourine, rattle like thunder!
I am dancing with my sweetheart,
her ribbon is as blue as the sky!
Beat, tambourine, beat! Beat, tambourine! Beat tambourine!

Ronda
The noisy round dance is at our door,
now is the time for merriment.
Come quickly – dance with me!
My scarlet carnation-flower!
In moonlit silence the noise of the stream is heard.
Give me your hand, my little girl,
my scarlet carnation flower.
The street is a bright garden,
jokes ring out, eyes are shining.
Ronda turns and sings,
silver shines the starry sky,
merry couples whirl.
It is the joyful holiday of first flowers.
It is the holiday of our love.
In the window the shadows of almond trees
play in the moon's rays.
When will you come out to me
My tender spring flower?
Pluck a sprig of almond from the branch.
Give it to me in token of your love,
my tender spring flower.

Black-Eyed Girl
Your mother gave you eyes like stars
and the soft color of your cheek
my darling!
With pain in my heart, late at night
without you I wander
my darling!
Ah! Why does fate punish me so?
Ah! Why did I ever meet you?
I will die of hopeless love
if you will not love me
my darling!

Your mother gave you a tall figure
and the black shine of unruly curls.
My darling I curse my harsh fate,
the pain and tortures of my heart
my darling!
Oh why did your mother give
you such beauty to spite me!
I will die of hopeless love
if you will not love me
my darling!

Dream
I don't know what it means...
I dreamed in a magical sleep
I was in a fishing boat.
I cruised on the stormy wave.
My boat has no oars – I threw them away...
The waves foam angrily – try to sink my vessel.
But, bravely I speed on through the
dark through the enormous waves,
because in this fishing boat
on the sea's unruly depths
speed you also, my proud one.
Speed together with me
and it seems as if you love me.
O my dove! Look now
how towards you in his fragile little boat,
poor fellow that loves you so strongly!

1 comment:

  1. But who was the singer that inspired Shostakovitsch to his Spanish Songs?

    ReplyDelete

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