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Adolph Müller (1801–1886): Lied an den Contrabass, for Bass, Double Bass and Orchestra (1833)

Successful (at the time) Vienese composer Adolph Müller wrote his Lied an den Contrabass[1] (Song for the double bass) to the same ensemble as Mozart’s Per Questa Bella Mano.[2] Written over forty years after Mozart’s aria, Lied an den Contrabass seems to be a homage to the golden age of Viennese double bass: by the time this aria was composed, in 1833, the modern bass orchestral tuning in fourths conquered Europe and replaced the old Viennese third-fourth tuning.

In a similar manner to Mozart’s Per Questa Bella Mano, the double bass represents the beloved to whom the singer yearns.

The Lied appears in a singspiel-like play entitled Der Carneval im Sommer- oder: Die Bekehrten Verkehrten (The Carnival in Summer- Or: The Converted Deviants).[3]

Leipzig-born bassist Tobias Glöckler was the first to publish the Lied in 1997.

Adolph Müller was born in Tolna, Hungary, and grew up in Czechoslovakia, accomplishing his musical education as a pianist, singer and actor. He came to Vienna in 1823, and earned a success as a composer for the stage — both his operas and singspiels were successful.

Selene, del tuo fuoco is an additional recitative and aria for bass singer, obligato double bass and orchestra[4], written by double bass virtuoso Johannes Sperger (1750—1812).

Lied an den Contrabass Song for the Double Bass

translated by Graham Waterhouse

1. Schätzchen, ich umarme Dich, 1. Darling come to my embrace,

schmeichle Dir mit sanftem Strich, let me stroke your lovely face,

denn Du bist mein Zeitvertreib, while away for me the time,

brumme nur, mein trautes Weib. with your rumblings, love divine.

Mag die Nachtigall verstummen, When the songbirds cease their winging,

mich entzückt Dein süßes Brummen how I love your sweetest singing,

darum liebes Weibchen, brumm, brumm, brumm therefore dearest darling, bom, bom, bom

2. Du bist meine zarte Braut; 2. You are my beloved bride,

wenn noch kaum der Morgen graut, in the twilight by my side,

fass’ am Schwanenhals ich Dich, when I grasp your neck so long,

Dein Gebrumm entzücket mich. The rumbling bass breaks out in song.

Böse Weiber soll’n verstummen, Kitchen- wives should cease their crooning,

aber Du magst immer brummen, but your voice be ever booming,

darum liebes Weibchen, brum brum brum therefore dearest darling, bom, bom, bom

3. Steh ich so bei Dir allein, 3. When I’m left alone with you,

abends bei dem Mondenschein, by the moonlight, just we two

bleiben, die vorübergehn, passers-by they stop and stare,

mit Entzücken horchend stehn. lost in wonder, head in air.

Liebesseufzer selbst verstummen, Longing sighs they pale to nothing

fängst Du zärtlich an zu brummen, just as you begin your strumming,

darum liebes Weibchen, brum brum brum therefore dearest darling, bom, bom, bom

Ron Merhavi

[1]Contrabass in the title is an old fashioned German word for the modern Kontrabaß. My gratitude to Tobias Glöckler for this explanation. [2] Exclude two A clarinets in the original score, whose part is played by two oboes in my performance. [3] My gratitude to Peggy Wunderwald-Jensen and Patrick Myers from the UM German Department for the apt translation of Bekehrten Verkehrten. [4] The ensemble is though different than Mozart and Müller’s: there are no flute and bassoons; two trumpets and timpani are added.

Adolph Müller (1801–1886): Lied an den Contrabass, for for Bass, Obligato Double Bass and Orchestra (1833)

Darnell Ishmel – Bass-Baritone, Ron Merhavi – Double Bass, Chris Hill – Conductor, The "M" Players; Ron Merhavi's Second Dissertation Recital: McIntosh Theater, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 17.3.2004


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