Another version of Heidenroeslein, Gardi 17
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
In the Bibilotheque National, there is a page catalogued as Beethoven Ms. 79. Apparently unknown to Nottebohm, it first came to prominence through the efforts of Krehbiel, who not only discussed the page but arranged for its publication in facsimile in a newspaper over 100 years ago. The leaf is primarily devoted to a page out of the aria Ah, Perfido, op. 65, while below it are sketches in A minor and F major for an unidentified song. The title is completely illegible although it could possibly read something like "Buergchen," which makes little sense. But on the back of the sketch is the material for Hess 150, the long known Beethoven sketches for Goethe's poem Heidenroeslein (which was completed by Henry Holden Huss in the 1890s, and which can be found on this site). There is, however, no musical relationship between the Hess 150 and the GV. 17 sketches.
Upon close examination, the words of Heidenroeslein can be made to fit the rhythms of the GV. 17 sketches without much effort, and there is in the second sketch a plainly obvious parallel to the meaning of the words of the Goethe poem and its phrasings, especially as the Roeslein replies to the boy, using the parallel music. Also, in the F section, the music fits the word "leiden", i.e., suffering, particularly well, because of the modulation to F minor at that point. As Willem notes, the tunes are both rather rustic, almost in the manner of folk songs, and thus one could anticipate that the words have a similarly rustic character.
The definitive proof that the GV. 17 sketches are indeed linked to Goethe's Heidenroeslein comes from two other Beethoven sources, dating from around 1820: the Biamonti 731 and 760 sketches. Biamonti 731 has unmistakeably the same musical idea as the first of the GV. 17 sketches, but this time written below the music are the first couple of verses of the Goethe poem, in Beethoven's hand. Biamonti 760 has "Goethe" written on top, and "Roeslein rot" beneath the sketch.
So, the course of events seems to have been that in 1796 Beethoven wanted to compose a song on Goethe's "Heidenroeslein" and had two different attempts at setting the poem at almost the same time: the GV. 17 and Hess 150 sketches. He did not finish either setting. Then, after some 25 years, apparently he had another look at Paris MS. 79, and became once again interested in "Heidenroeslein". This is comparable to other projects he started in the 1790s, but completed only in the 1820s: several of the opus 119 Bagatellen, the "Opferlied" opus 121b (see Hess 145 on this site) and indeed, the "Ode to Joy", the Finale of the 9th Symphony. It seems he thought the GV. 17 sketch superior to Hess 150, because he copied the main idea from GV. 17, while ignoring the Hess 150. No matter his intentions, he would once again fail to finish his "Heidenroeslein".
Presented here are both a transcription of the sketches and Willem's completion of the song. Another world premiere for the Unheard Beethoven.
Heidenroeslein Sah ein Knab' ein Roeslein steh'n, Roeslein auf der Heiden, War so jung und morgenschoen, Lief er schnell, es nah' zu seh'n. Sah's mit vielen Freuden Roeslein, Roeslein, Roeslein roth, Roeslein auf der Heiden. Knabe sprach: "Ich breche dich, Roeslein auf der Heiden!" Roeslein sprach: "ich ste che dich, Dass du ewig denkst an mich, Und ich will's nicht leiden." Roeslein, Roeslein, Roeslein roth, Roeslein auf der Heiden. Und der wilde Knabebrach's Roeslein auf der Heiden. Roeslein wehrte sich und stach, Half ihr doch kein Weh und Ach, Muss't es eben leiden. Roeslein, Roeslein, Roeslein roth, Roeslein auf der Heiden. ---Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Wild Rose of the Hedgerow Once a boy a wild-rose spied In the hedgerow growing, Fresh in all her youthful pride, When her beauties he descried, Joy in his heart was glowing. Little wild-rose, wild-rose red, In the hedgerow growing. Said the boy: "I'll gather thee, In the hedgerow growing. Said the rose, "Then I'll pierce thee, That thou may'st remember me, Thus reproof bestowing." Little wild-rose, wild-rose red, In the hedgerow growing. Thoughtlessly he pull'd the rose, In the hedgerow growing, But her thorns their spears oppose, Vainly he laments his woes, With pain his hand is glowing. Little wild-rose, wild-rose red, In the hedgerow growing. ----English translation by Henry Holden Huss.