Listening to Beethoven #121 – Kriegslied der Österreicher WoO 122


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

Kriegslied der Österreicher WoO 122 for voice and piano (1797, Beethoven aged 26)

Dedication not known
Text Josef Friedelberg

Duration 3’15”

Listen

Background and Critical Reception

There is no official translation of Friedelberg’s text – at least none that I could find – but a loose interpretation via Google reveals something of a hymn to Germany, while inspiring his newish home countrymen too. ‘Man, woman and child in Austria. feel deeply your own worth’, runs the last verse.

The song draws out the point made by the unknown writer of the booklet notes for Capriccio’s set of the complete songs, who notes that ‘Beethoven’s songs are not music for the concert hall, but, for the large part, house music for the sophisticated entertainment or the edification of the educated classes.’

Thoughts

As with his previous setting of Friedelberg’s poetry, Beethoven offers a full bodied setting of a celebratory text. As noted in that setting, the piano functions to double the melody and provide a bit of punctuation between verses. It is the sort of song you can imagine being sung after a few drinks!

Recording used and Spotify link

Hermann Prey (baritone), Leonard Hokanson (piano), Berlin Heinrich Schütz Choir / Wolfgang Matkowitz

Hermann Prey is brilliant here, a wonderful tone complemented by the Heinrich Schütz Kreis, Berlin, in the refrains.

You can chart the Arcana Beethoven playlist as it grows, with one recommended version of each piece we listen to. Catch up here!

Also written in 1797 Dussek La Consolation Op.62

Next up Piano Sonata no.4 in E flat major Op.7

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