I compiled a playlist a while back to complement a little writing project that I’ve been working on for, oh, the last 35 years or so. One of the pieces that I chose fit the mood of some of the source material incredibly well.
Eerily well, as it turns out.
The bulk of the written material I am working with is a collection of letters from a young Minnesota woman to her newly-wed husband, who had been shipped off to parts unknown during the second World War.
The piece of music is a movement from Edvard Grieg’s incidental score to Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt, entitled “Solveig’s Song.”
Sir Thomas Beecham is conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
The vocal soloist is Ilse Hollweg.
I had no idea at the time I selected this track what the lyrics were about (I hadn’t read the Ibsen play or closely examined the CD liner notes). The music just seemed emotionally appropriate. So there it sat for a few unbothered years, in my computer, sandwiched between Helen Morgan’s rendition of “Bill” from Show Boat, and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel.
Recently, I unearthed an English translation of the text from the original Norwegian, crafted by Adam Taylor. The parallels between the plights of the Minnesotan bride and the character of Solveig were remarkable!
The winter may go, and the spring disappear,
Next summer, too, may fade, and the whole long year,
But you will be returning, in truth, I know,
And I will wait for you as I promised long ago.
May God guide and keep you, wherever you may go,
Upon you His blessing and mercy bestow.
And here I will await you till you are here;
And if you are in Heaven, I’ll meet you there.
If nothing else, this showed me just how attuned to the text Grieg was, as his music communicated the sorrow and longing so completely, and surely could have done that job even without the touching text.