André Spaeth

Six Fantasies: Greetings from Afar

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Six Fantasies: Greetings from Afar by André Spaeth, modern edition by David Whitwell. Based on six original songs composed by Prince Albert, Consort to Queen Victoria.

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Six Fan­tasies: Greet­ings from Afar
André Spaeth (1790–1876)
Mod­ern edi­tion by David Whitwell (1937–)

Date: 1838–1861
Instru­men­ta­tion: Wind Ensem­ble (Picc, Fl, Ob 1.2, Cl 1.2.3, Bs Cl, Bsn 1.2, Hn, Tpt 1.2.3, Tbn 1.2.3, Tba, Sn Dr, Bs Dr, Cym, Tri)
Dura­tion: 8:25
Lev­el: 4

André Spaeth (1790–1876) in 1838 became the Kapellmeis­ter for the Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the father of Prince Albert, the hus­band of England’s Queen Vic­to­ria. Ear­li­er he had lived and worked in Switzer­land and by 1849 Spaeth was con­sid­ered one of the most flu­ent and pop­u­lar com­posers of the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry [Glass­ner, 1849]. His works includ­ed five operas, much church music, mil­i­tary march­es and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als for piano.

The Six Fan­tasies for band were writ­ten between 1838 and 1861, the date of the death of Albert, and are ded­i­cat­ed to Queen Vic­to­ria of Eng­land. These Fan­tasies were all based on six orig­i­nal songs com­posed by Prince Albert, Con­sort to Queen Vic­to­ria. As Albert’s songs were not pub­lished until 1882, it seems appar­ent that Spaeth worked from the orig­i­nal man­u­scripts of the prince.

Greet­ings from Afar
Evening Calm
The Ser­e­nade
Greet­ings to your Broth­er
The Beg­gar
My Farewell

Notes on Greetings from Afar

A note in paren­the­sis, under the title, seems to sug­gest that Prince Albert based this song on an ear­li­er song by his broth­er, Prince Ernst II August Her­zog von Sach­sen-Coburg und Gotha (1818–1893), who became the Duke of Sach­sen-Coburg-Gotha. Ernst was an excel­lent musi­cian and com­pos­er all his life, com­pos­ing songs, hymns, can­tatas and works for the stage. His opera Diana von Solange (1858) prompt­ed Franz Liszt to com­pose an orches­tral Fest­marsch nach Motiv­en von E. H.z.S.-C.-G.

The text for Albert’s song, Greet­ings from Afar, reads,

As it soars there at the top, as it undu­lates there on the mead­ow, who moves well mead­ow and tree­tops? Was it the gen­tle Zephir only?

As the evening winds blow, pull over field and grove, fan mead­ows, kiss­es lakes, only the soft moon­light yields, only the soft moon­light yields.”

The Lin­den tree with the breath of each leaf wel­comes ten­der­ly each flower. Tell me, balm evening breezes, where is the friend now who greet­ed her?

Flut­ter­ing around him for a while, tell him that I?m around him, as a car­ri­er who brings to him in a hur­ry this lit­tle song, this lit­tle song.

Spaeth’s orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions for band are giv­en here in the orig­i­nal instru­men­ta­tion, in so far as pos­si­ble for mod­ern prac­tice. In par­tic­u­lar, the oph­i­clei­de part has been divid­ed between bass clar­inet and tuba, accord­ing to the needs of col­or and bal­ance.

David Whitwell
Austin, 2015