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(Original) Songs of Love and Loss - Part 1 "Erster Verlust (First Loss)" Spring Performance by cmp2020

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· @cmp2020 · (edited)
(Original) Songs of Love and Loss - Part 1 "Erster Verlust (First Loss)" Spring Performance
Hello everyone! I have recently found some performances of older compositions (from last year). I decided today to share this song as well as its back story and compositional foundations (which I have already shared once before). But first, here is the performance which I rediscovered. This performance was at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory's spring recital, and I was accompanied by my amazing piano teacher, [Mr. Marcantonio Barone]( If you would like to see real time translations, I have made closed captions available. I will also include the text (by Goethe) after.

### Text
|Erster Verlust|First Loss|
|Ach, wer bringt die schönen Tage,|Ah, who will bring those beautiful days|
|Jene Tage der ersten Liebe,|Those days of first love?|
|Ach, wer bringt nur eine Stunde |Ah, who will bring but one hour
|Jener holden  Zeit zurück| of that sweet time back?|
|Einsam nähr’ ich meine Wunde,|Alone I nurture my wounds,
|Und mit stets erneuter Klage|And forever renewing my lament,|
|Traur' ich ums verlorne Glück,|I mourn my lost happiness.|
|Ach, wer bringt die schönen Tage,|Ah, who will bring those beautiful days|
|Jene holde Zeit zurück!|That sweet time back?|

### Back Story
I will say that this composition probably has the most meaning to me of anything I have ever written. Because, unlike most other things I (and many other composers/artists) have written, I wrote this as a response to certain life events. Because of that, I cannot hear it, or sing it, or think about it, without being reminded of that period of my life. 

###### <div class=pull-right> A photo I took with Janine after she came home from the vet with a treatment.</div>

In the [first article](, I discussed my cat and how I was under the impression that we would have to put her down very soon. Combined with this, my grades in school began to suffer (because of the time commitment of the school musical). I began to feel very depressed and angry with the world. So, I did what I do when I am depressed and angry, I took a walk: a long walk (about two hours). I like to walk when I am going through trauma or turmoil. On this walk, I decided that I needed to step up my game with school work, and I began to hear the text of this poem run through my head (in English). I had played a Schumann piece based on this poem, and knew of the text as a result. It always stuck with me, this textual idea of "Who will bring back those beautiful days when my life was great?" I started to think about how I would set the German text, and I went home and set the text. 
###### *Side  Note*
What is incredible to me is how incredible this text is. It was written over two centuries ago, and it still means so much! The fact that a 17 year old idiot two hundred years later can relate so strongly to such a text really speaks volumes about how great Goethe was as a poet. So often, we negatively associate age with decay, but I feel that this text can only age well. It says something which anyone anywhere can relate so strongly to. And for such a text, I am more than grateful.

###### *Back to the Regularly Scheduled Program*
Here you can hear a recording I made of the song during that period. On top of the pronunciation errors, I think you can hear (1) sickness in my voice because I was sick, and (2) a certain exhaustion which I no longer have. I am not too fond of this recording, but I do think it is a good embodiment of how I was feeling:

###### <div class=pull-right> Here is the picture I got with her two minutes before we put her down. </div>
In my previous article, I talked about how it had all worked out in the end because we had managed to keep Janine alive through treatment. And that she would be with me for a little bit longer. Two days after I published that article, we wound up putting her down. That kind of renewed the bitterness in me, but I was at least at peace with it because I had had precious time that I hadn't thought I would have.  I will never doubt it was time. She was in so much discomfort that it was a relief to ease her suffering. I will admit though that every time I sing this song, or listen to it, or think about it, I am reminded of her, and reminded of the way I felt (and still feel) that I will never love anything as much as I loved her. It still brings a certain sadness, and it still feels like I am living in that moment for me anytime I am exposed to this song. 

But, in the end, I made it through. I fixed my grades, and I expressed my feelings through this song. That expression gave me a certain inner peace that some spend their whole life looking for and never find. So, I am thankful for composition (and walking) for providing me a way of coping and getting through those tough situations.

### Compositional Ideas
So, I have discussed the meaning behind this song for me. How does that translate into the music?

#### Lamenting bass line
Immediately, you will notice the bass line which descends chromatically from scale degree 1 to scale degree 5. This bass line was used in baroque times as a way of depicting lament. I had learned about it through two pieces of music in particular:

##### Baroque examples of this bass line

###### 1. Bach's Crucifixus (from his mass in b minor):
I learned of this piece through the PMEA district 12 chorus festival last year. It is about the crucifixion of Christ, and it is what we call a passacaglia. This means that the whole piece is a series of variations on top of a constant and repeating bass line: in this case, the lamenting bass line.

###### 2. Bach's Invention no. 11 in g minor

It is through learning this piece with Mr. Barone that I discovered this bass line. This invention uses the lamenting bass line (as well as its inversion. This truly depicts Bach's compositional genius).

##### My application of this bass line
This song was the first time I ever used this bass line (see below).

You can also observe this bass line in the first movement of my King Arthur String Quartet. This movement is called "The Orphan's Processional" and is about Arthur becoming an orphan. Here is the whole quartet, only the first 2 minutes are "The Orphan's Processional."

### Other Settings
There are two other settings of this text which I will discuss.

My overall favorite setting (of any of the settings including mine) of this text is the Mendelssohn setting. He did such a good job at capturing the nostalgic sweetness behind this poem. I think I was too bitter in my setting. It doesn't sound like someone looking back fondly on what has been, it sounds like someone bitterly looking at what is. I think Mendelssohn did an incredible job at capturing the sweetness of what has been, and the longing attraction which we feel for it.

The other setting which I will discuss is the Schubert setting. I also like this setting more than my own. Schubert also did a good job at depicting the longing which I failed to depict. I think both of these settings show a maturity which I have yet to achieve, and an outlook on life which only comes with age and experience. I imagine that I will have a different idea as to what this text means when I am 40, and then an even more juxtaposed interpretation when I am 70. I think Schubert and Mendelssohn did a much better job at capturing the maturer interpretation of the text just because of their age and maturity (though they were both still fairly young).

A fun story is that I avoided listening to either of these settings while I was setting the text just to avoid stealing any ideas.

### Conclusion
Thanks for reading this! I hope you have enjoyed the song, and the article. Please remember that feedback is always appreciated! Have a nice day!

(Note) In order to encourage meaningful feedback on the platform, I will check comment trails of users who leave superficial comments (ie "Awesome post," or "Upvoted.") and will mute any users who exhibit a pattern of leaving "spammy" comments.
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