Faithfu' Johnie, First version of Op. 108 nr. 20, Hess 203 (mp3)
Performer: Mark S. Zimmer
This first version of this folksong (one of the first written by Beethoven for George Thomson) is notably different from the final version (sent to Thomson in August 1812). The piano part is a good deal more active and difficult, with triplet 16th notes throughout the piece except in the very first and very last measures. George Thomson wrote Beethoven that the arrangement was "very brilliant and truly excellent but the piano part is too difficult, and contains too many roulades to be generally played here." Thomson also had in the meantime found a better version of the melody, which was used to write op. 108 nr. 20. In addition, it is apparent that between the two versions Beethoven found out that the text involved a conversation between two people; between the woman's and the man's words in the lyrics, Beethoven inserted a two-measure ritornello as a clear separation. This is supported further by the echo of the rising phrase with the question "When will you come again?" which emphasizes this crucial phrase and its inquiring nature.
Faithfu' Johnie When will you come again, my faithfu' Johnie, When will you come again? "When the corn is gathered, and the leaved are withered, I will come again, my sweet and bonnie, I will come again." Then winter's wind will blow, my faithfu' Johnie, Then winter's wind will blow: "Though the day be dark wi' drift, that I cannot see the lift, I will come again, my sweet and bonnie, I will come again." Then will you meet me here, my faithfu' Johnie, Then will you meet me here? "Though the night were hallowwe'en when the fearfu' sights are seen, I would meet thee here, my sweet and bonnie, I would meet thee here." O come na by the muir, my faithfu' Johnie, O come na by the muir. "Though the wraiths were glist'ning white, by the dim elf-candles' light, I would come to thee my sweet and bonnie, I would come to thee." And shall we part again, my faithfu' Johnie? Shall we then part again? "So lang's my eye can see, Jean, that face so dear to me, Jean, We shall not part again, my sweet and bonnie, we shall not part again."