Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (Completion by Mark S. Zimmer, after Reinhold Becker) (mp3)

Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (Completion by Mark S. Zimmer, after Reinhold Becker) (mp3)
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Performer: Willem and Mark S. Zimmer
Length: 2:33
Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (Completion by Reinhold Becker)
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Author: Willem
Length: 2:16
Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (Original Sketch)
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Author: Willem
Length: 1:40
Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (Completion by Mark S. Zimmer, after Reinhold Becker)
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Author: Willem and Mark S. Zimmer
Length: 2:27
Erlkoenig, WoO 131 (1795?). Although Schubert made several successful settings of this poem by Goethe, Beethoven also tried his hand at it as well. Nottebohm discovered some sketches which date from about 1795 and which are the basis of these midis. Even though the sketch appears to date from before Schubert's birth, there are a number of intriguing similarities between the composers' respective versions. Beethoven's sketches are certainly incomplete, but it is possible to obtain a fairly clear picture of what was intended. In 1897, Reinhold Becker published a completion of the song.

However, Becker strayed from the sketch in a number of important particulars. For example, after the boy's last cry, the sketch gives some notes described as "ritornello" by Beethoven; Becker changes them into a vocal line. Becker also amends the first note of the Erl-King's last verse by dropping it a fourth to an E instead of leaving it as an A with the rest of the first phrase. Finally, the final verse and the coda as completed by Becker are significantly different from the sketch. We present here 1) the unmodified skeleton of the sketch, as Beethoven wrote it and transcribed by Gustav Nottebohm (with the addition of a low D in the penultimate measure which is plainly visible on the autograph); 2) Becker's completion; and 3) Our modification of Becker's completion (based in large part upon suggestions by Alexander Singer in an article in the Musical Quarterly) to correspond more closely with the sketch.

The score of Becker's completion, with our modifications to match Beethoven's sketch more closely, may be downloaded here. This score is copyright The Unheard Beethoven, Inc. (BMI) and is for personal and educational use only. Please contact us for performance or recording information.


Wer reitet so spaet durch Nacht und Wind?
Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind;
Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm,
Er fasst ihn sicher, er haelt ihn Warm.

Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?
Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkoenig nicht?
Den Erlenkoenig mit Kron und Schweif?
Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, es ist ein Nebelstreif.

"Du liebes Kind, komm, geh' mit mir,
Gar schoene Spiele spiel' ich mit dir,
Manch bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand,
Meine Mutter hat manch guelden Gewand."

Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hoerest du nicht,
Wass Erlenkoenig mir leise verspricht?
Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig mein Kind,
In dueren Blaettern saeuselt der Wind.

"Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir geh'n?
Meine Toechter sollen dich warten schoen,
Meine Toechter fuehren den naechtlichen Reihn,
Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein."

Mein Vater, mein Vater und siehst du nicht dort
Erlenkoenigs Toechter am duestern Ort?
Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh' es genau;
Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.

"Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schoene Gestalt;
Und bist du nicht willig so brauch ich Gewalt."
Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt fasst er mich an!
Erlkoenig hat mir ein Leids gethan!

Dem Vater grausest's, er reitet geschwind,
Er haelt in den Armen das aechzende Kind,
Erreicht dem Hof mit Muehe und Noth -
In seinen Armen das Kind war todt.


The Erl-King

Who rides thro' the night, so dark and wild?
A father bearing his darling child.
He holds the boy in his shelt'ring arm,
He holds him closely, to keep him warm.

My son, why hid'st thou in terror thy face?
The Erl-king, father, keeps with us pace,
The Erl-king rides with a staff and shroud.
My son, my son, 't is but a passing cloud.

"My pretty boy, come home with me,
The finest games I'll play there with thee;
The fairest flowers are growing there,
And my mother, too, has toys fine and rare!"

O father, dear father, and canst thou not hear
The Erl-king whispering now in mine ear?
Hush, hush! my darling, be at ease,
The wind is rustling thro' the bare trees. 

"Thou pretty boy, wilt thou with me go?
Thee the finest toys shall my daughters show;
Ev'ry night my daughters their revels their keep,
They'll rock thee and pet thee and sing the to sleep!"

O father, dear father, and see-est thou not
The Erl-king's daughters at that dread spot?
My son, my son, I see them quite plain,
The willowtrees looming grey thro' the rain.

"I love thee, child, and will brook no longer delay
And, art thou not willing, I'll force thee away!"
O father, dear father, keep closer thy hold!
The Erl-king grasps me, his hand is cold.

The father shuddered, he spurred thro' the wild,
And held still more closely the shivering child.
He reached their home in terrible dread,-
Fear changed to horror,- His child was dead.

							   Translation: Harry Brett

WoO: 131

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