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Beethoven: Sparks of Joy – No. 14

Beethoven: Sparks of Joy – No. 14

When Beethoven Becomes Hilarious!
Notes by Fred Haight

We have had several episodes on Beethoven’s sense of humor. Today, we cross over into utter hilarity. Beethoven composed folk songs in many languages, including English, Italian, Danish, and Russian.

  1. The first piece today is not a folk song but a setting of Goethe’s The Flea from his Faust. Its part of 6 songs that he composed in 1809, op. 75, no. 3. It’s in German. Here, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau performs the song, with English subtitles.

2. One commenter reminded us of the song Ih nit di Nehma, from 23 Songs of Different Nationalities, WoO158a (1816/17). If you are wondering what language it is, it appears to be a Tyrolean dialect. Tyrol/Trentino straddles Austria and Italy. It is mountainous and apparently has a lot of regional dialects. We print here the closest thing we could find to a translation. Two things are clear a). There is a lot of yodeling. b). A woman is rejecting a man, and by the sound of her voice, he should not be too disappointed.

I nit di nehma
I like di nit nehma,
You top pike,
You can’t come to me
You were much too bad for me;
And you wanna be my man
You urban aff,
What do you think of no
You foolish laff
You talked yodel,
What you need a woman
You have a soda Koan juice more in body;
You’re cute like a brue
And cute as a bird
what did a woman do to you.
The gannet from Passau
Is your contrase
You kier like a Spanau,
Now go and go
Stop your grumbling
I’m telling you
I give you a faunzen
You talketer bue.

Glossary
Talketer Jodel = foolish journeyman
You have = anyway
Contrase = image
You kier = you squeak
Faunzen = slap in the face

3. L’amante Impazione (the Impatient Lover) Op 82, No. 3 and 4 (composed 1809), are in Italian. The lover seems a bit infantile. Beethoven captures this manic-depressive quality by setting it twice, once in a manic way, and once in a depressive way, using exactly the same words. Both are played here. Click on two separate videos to hear the two versions!

Che fa, che fa il mio bene?
Perché non viene?
Vedermi vuole languir
Così, così, così!
Oh come è lento nel corso il sole!
Ogni momento mi sembra un dì,
Che fa, che fa il mio bene?
Perchè, perché non viene?
Vedermi vuole languir
Così, così, così!

What is my darling doing?
Perhaps she will not come?
She likes to see me pine away
Like this, like this, like this
How slowly the sun runs its course,
Every second’s like a day.
What is my darling doing?
Perhaps she will not come ……. ?
She likes to see me pine away
Like this, like this, like this.

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