Listening to Beethoven #63 – O care selve WoO 119

Peanuts comic strip, drawn by Charles M. Schulz (c)PNTS

O care selve WoO 119 for voice and piano (1795, Beethoven aged 24)

Dedication not known
Text Pietro Metastasio
Duration 1’30”


Background and Critical Reception

This is Beethoven’s second song to be set in Italian, a possible side-product of his studies with Salieri. The Italian composer’s influence on his pupil extended to a more operatic approach.

Very little is known or written about this song, but it is part of a clutch of short works completed in Vienna in 1795. We are effectively peering into the engine room, beneath the bonnet of Beethoven’s large-scale works.


This is a short and tender song in a lilting triple time, with a winsome melody that is easy on the ear. O care selve (O beloved forests) is as dreamy as its words imply, quite a wistful number with a faraway mood.

In fact this is a surprisingly relaxed utterance from Beethoven, a lullaby in all but name.

Recordings used

Hermann Prey (baritone), Heinrich Schütz Kreis Berlin, Leonard Hokanson (piano) (Capriccio)
Peter Schreier (tenor), Walter Obertz (piano) (Brilliant Classics)

Two chaste accounts, especially from Hermann Prey by way of the Heinrich Schütz Kreis Berlin, dreaming of their escape.

Spotify links

Hermann Prey, Heinrich Schütz Kreis Berlin, Leonard Hokanson

Peter Schreier, Walter Obertz

Also written in 1795 Salieri Palmira

Next up 2 Triple Fugues

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