Six Fantasies: Greetings from Afar
André Spaeth (1790–1876)
Modern edition by David Whitwell (1937–)
Instrumentation: Wind Ensemble (Picc, Fl, Ob 1.2, Cl 1.2.3, Bs Cl, Bsn 1.2, Hn 188.8.131.52, Tpt 1.2.3, Tbn 1.2.3, Tba, Sn Dr, Bs Dr, Cym, Tri)
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
Greetings to your Brother
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.