Tis But in Vain, First Version of WoO 153 Nr. 15, Hess 197 (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
While Willy Hess in his Supplement to the Gesamtausgabe indicates this song as being from 1815, later research has shown that it in fact dates from 1810 and is one of the first set of folksongs which Beethoven arranged. Thomson requested that it be revised, singe the piano part was "much too brilliant" for a tender, plaintive song. However, this earlier version of this Irish folk song is much less complex than the final version, with the exception of the 32nd note scales during the introduction and ritornello. The interesting variation is in the piano part; in this earlier version, the right hand doubles both the rhythm and the melody of the voice; in the final version the left hand doubles the rhythm against moving 16th notes which more subtly follow the voice. The vocal cadenza is also far more elaborate in the final version.
'Tis but in Vain, For Nothing Thrives 'Tis but in vain, for nothing thrives, Where Dermot has to do, Ill fortune seems, however he strives, His footsteps to pursue! But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too. O poverty! full sure thou art A foe the most unkind; And weary, weary is the heart That feels thee still behind. But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too. I would my Lord could only see, (For little can he know), How cruel can the Driver be, How sad my Dermot's woe. But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too. Next month he sails to find a home Beyond the western tide; And heav'n knows where he means to roam, His houseless head to hide. But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too. My father says he cannot part, And shews his hair so grey, My mother's tears, I see them start When thinking of the day. But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too. Oh! breathe it not thou passing wind, I tell it thee alone, My Dermot is not always kind-- He breaks my heart, I own. But one by one, when friends are gone, Must I forsake him too.