Canon, 'Singen ist des Lebens Freude', Hess 312 (mp3)
Author: Mark S. Zimmer
This entry in the Hess catalog has baffled Beethoven scholars for decades. Hess never actually saw the composition, but was only told about it by Fritz Kaiser of Darmstadt. Kaiser indicated that the source was J.H. Fischer's Liederbote, but no copy of this item had turned up in the intervening years. Just recently, Beethoven scholar James F. Green revealed in his New Hess Catalog (Vance Brook Publishing, 2003) that this composition is actually a texted version of the four-voice study canon WoO 160 nr.2. According to Green, "A copy of Fischer's book was found in the SBB [Staatsbibliothek Berlin]. It was published by Schwartz in Brieg about 1844. It is undated, but was listed in Hoffmeister's music catalog of 1844 as 'A collection of songs, chorales, hymns, motets, choruses, etc. in 4 parts (issued in 8 sections).'"
The text (author unknown, but possibly Fischer himself) is as follows:
Singen ist des Lebens Freude singen ist der Jugend Lust; darum singen wir auch heute, freudevoll aus froher Brust. To sing is life's delight, to sing is the joy of youth, therefore we sing today, joyful with a happy heart. (trans. James F. Green)
The New Hess Catalog can be obtained from the author at Monument Records.