Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I will be singing in a friend’s (or frolleague’s) wedding in a few weeks, and she wants me to sing what is popularly known as Ave Maria, since those are the first two words. However, the actual song title is Ellens Dritter Gesang (Ellen’s Third Song), as it was written by Schubert for a particular piece in which, apparently, Ellen sings two other songs before that one.

I learned it with the original German lyrics by Sir Walter Scott rather than the popular Italian version, for some reason. If you look for Ave Maria online, you might get the Schubert one, or you might get one of several other completely disparate songs that really are called Ave Maria. So to get the proper musical score, it’s usually safest to look for it under the proper title.

This piece as written was probably a bit too high for me when I was at my singing peak anyway, let alone now that I have let my voice rust for four years as well as done damage to it with four years of stress-related asthma and coughing and so forth. I know from previous wedding experience that it is often transposed to a different (lower!) key, so I thought I’d look online to see if I could find for the harpist an arrangement in a key that is simpatico to my no-longer-soprano voice.

One of the things that came up was this site, Schubertline, which really has a quite a cool service for singers. Sheet music that reads itself! Especially good for those who read music only poorly, such as myself. It has not only Schubert but also several other popular composers. But try as I might, I couldn’t find Ellens Dritter Gesang—only songs I and II. Which is odd, seeing how popular it is. So I wrote this in the comments:

> Comments: What is a Schubert site without Ellens Dritter Gesang?

This was the apparently frustrated reply:

>True, except that we're not actually a Schubert site, we just borrowed the
>name. We try to give broad coverage to all the great lieder composers, so
>although we're constantly adding songs by Schubert (about 230 so far) we
>also have to remember Schumann, Brahms, Wolf etc. and it all TAKES TIME!

>But your suggestion in noted!!
>Thanks for writing,
>Best wishes,


Well, that made sense. Perhaps the site was fairly young, and there were some kind of licensing fees attached to that song, given its popularity. Or something. At least she wished me the best, despite how incredibly overworked the staff in general must be, judging by her email. So I replied:

>Fair enough.

>Of course, the plebian masses (such as myself) will be seeking
>to buy that particular song above all others.


>Elisabeth [Lizardo], M.S.
>[University] Psychology Department

Then a few days later, I received this considerably humbler reply:

>Hello again:

>With reference to your enquiry about Ellens Dritter Gesang, our Music Editor tells me that >this song is better known as Schubert's Ave Maria.
>This is the most popular of all Schubert's songs and has been included in our catalog since >we started. Is this perhaps what you were looking for? We have it with the original German >text (by Walter Scott, he says) or in the much-requested but not authentic version with Latin >words.

>Sorry I didn't know what you were talking about! I just deal with the emails... We sell

>about 100 copies of this each month!

>Best wishes,

>Alice [Emailchick]
>Schubertline: the online score service for singers
>A product of Enichi Music Services NR34 9AU (UK)


I don’t know what this proves, but it proves something.


liz said...

It's just really too bad that I had to misspell "plebeian" during that particular exchange.

But if she's in the classical music business and doesn't know what Ellens Dritter Gesang is, she probably didn't even notice.

brainhell said...

This proves that you know EVERYthing.