My mother and I were just talking in the kitchen about something the Uist writer Angus Peter Campbell had said when talking recently at the Ullapool Book Festival. Discussing his book Memory and Straw, Campbell mentioned that he had been on Tomnahurich hill in Inverness, a place that is associated with the 13th century Scottish bard Thomas the Rhymer.
It’s very interesting that the figure of Thomas the Rhymer – whose family name was Learmonth and who was therefore descended from Norman barons (at least on his father’s side) – should be so deeply embedded in Gaelic mythology. I suppose that Thomas had Gaelic-speaking family on his mother’s side.
At any rate, it is almost certain that such a prominent bard would have performed at the court of the last Gaelic-speaking king of Scotland, Alexander III.
The text with which Thomas is most strongly associated is that in which he immortalises himself through an encounter with the Celtic muse in the form of the Faery Queen. In my view, however, this tale is almost certain to have been a reworking of an earlier mythic text having its origins in Brythonic Celtic culture. It is known that a now extinct Brythonic language was being spoken in the neighbouring Kingdom of Strathclyde that still existed at Thomas’ time.
Contemporary English translation of Schubert’s Winterreise song cycle set to piano. Transposed for low voice (baritone). PDF
Performance of Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin by singer Thomas Beavitt and pianist Alexander Polyakov at Ekaterinburg’s Dom Muzyki on 19th April 2019
Смерть поэта (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
Погиб поэт! — невольник чести, —
Убит!.. К чему теперь рыданья,
Что ж? Веселитесь… он мучений
И что за диво?.. Издалёка,
И он убит — и взят могилой,
Зачем от мирных нег и дружбы простодушной
И, прежний сняв венок, — они венец терновый,
Замолкли звуки чудных песен,
Но есть и божий суд, наперсники разврата!
The Bard is Dead! (tr. T. Beavitt)
The bard is dead! – conscience of our age –
Eternity! Spare your crocodile tears…
Well? Enjoy the show! He burned
Occidental – quelle surprise! –
And so he was slain, and his body taken,
Why, from calm obscurity and artless geniality,
Then, replacing with a crown of thorns, his wreath,
The mellifluous tones of our tragic nation
And you, O arrogant descendants,
But there is a sacred court, O intimates of vice!
Сон (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
В полдневный жар в долине Дагестана
Лежал один я на песке долины;
И снился мне сияющий огнями
Но в разговор весёлый не вступая,
И снилась ей долина Дагестана;
Dream (tr. T. Beavitt)
The sun beats down on a Dagestani chasm.
Alone, as I lie upon the sands of that ravine,
I seem to dream a hundred gleaming candles –
But, not participating in this merry theme,
In her dream, a Dagestani valley;
Желание (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
Зачем я не птица, не ворон степной,
На запад, на запад помчался бы я,
Я стал бы летать над мечом и щитом
Но тщетны мечты, бесполезны мольбы
Последний потомок отважных бойцов
Yearning (tr. T. Beavitt)
If I were a raven, a raptor of the plain,
To the west, to the west, I’d be gone in an hour!
I would fly over the sword and the shield,
But disconsolate dreams, unfulfillable yearning
The last scion of a race that routed foes
Гроб Оссиана (М.Ю. Лермонтов)
Под занавесою тумана,
Летит к ней дух мой усыпленный
Ossian’s Tomb (tr. T. Beavitt)
Beneath a swirling shroud of mist,
My wearied spirit flies to her
Die Schöne Müllerin
Franz Schubert’s song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin will be presented in the original German language by Scottish vocalist Thomas Beavitt on 19th April 2019 at Ekaterinburg’s Dom Muzyki (House of Music). Accompanied by the pianist Alexander Polyakov, laureate of international competitions, all 20 songs from one of the most popular songs cycles of the Romantic era will be heard from the venue’s stage.
Although the rhythmic pattern and melody of each song are quite distinct, they are united by a common theme – the love and life of a young apprentice miller, whose heart is broken by the miller’s beautiful daughter. However, his dream of love turns into a tragic nightmare when, instead of our young hero, the heroine chooses a dashing hunter as her suitor.
The cycle’s memorable melodies are written in a folky spirit, with marvellous landscapes opened up by the piano accompaniment, which glides, murmurs and tumbles along to the vocalist’s emotional outpourings just like the brook, representing our protagonist’s inner state and only true friend.
The songs from Die Schöne Müllerin became very popular in Germany following their first performance (32 years after their creation), being performed by professional vocalists and amateurs alike. To this day, Schubert’s songs are very well known and actively performed in European countries.
“In Russia, it is fairly rare for a performer to take on the performance of this cycle; in Yekaterinburg, all the more so. Sometimes you can hear it in Moscow or St. Petersburg, but not here,” commented Alexei Petrov, the well-known Ekaterinburg singer, winner of all-Russian and international competitions and the Sverdlovsk Governor’s Prize. “Reasons for this include the foreign language and the technical demands placed on the singer. ”
This is not the first year that Thomas Beavitt has explored the work of Schubert. In April 2018, on the same stage, he presented the cycle Winter Journeyman (in his own English translation), which is a kind of sequel to Die Schöne Müllerin.
Concert «Die Schöne Müllerin» (Franz Schubert).
Vocal ‑ Thomas Beavitt (Scotland),
Piano ‑ laureate of international competitions Alexander Polyakov (Russia).
19 April at 19:00, Dom Muzyki, 30 Sverdlova street