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A Deep Stillness Reigns on the Water: A conductor's guide

Andrew C Last, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Beethoven composed Meeres Stille und Glückliche Fahrt a setting of two poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in 1814-1815. The work was published in 1822, with a dedication to the poet. The score calls for mixed chorus and an orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings. ^ Beethoven had admired Goethe's poetry since his youth, and he set several of Goethe's poems to music. The two men finally met in Teplitz in 1812, and the pair spent several hours in deep collaboration. Two years later, Beethoven combined two poems by Goethe as this short, dramatic cantata for chorus and orchestra depicting the still and tranquil sea and its awakening. ^ The purpose of this study is to develop a conductor's guide to the preparation and performance of Beethoven's Meeres Stille und Glückliche Fahrt. Literature by the "greats" in music history should be studied at both educational levels. Of Beethoven's choral music, only four works are performed with any regularity. Meeres Stille und Glückliche Fahrt is an ideal option for exposure to Beethoven's choral music while providing a vessel through a much smaller work. ^ Four distinct stages of research influence a conductor's preparation of a musical work. First, historical context provides a background as to what was occurring in the composer's life to influence the writing of a piece. Score analysis provides a natural departure point and constitutes the second stage of musical preparation. The third stage in the conductor's preparation involves the choice of physical gestures the conductor will use to elicit the desired responses from an ensemble. The final stage encompasses preparation of a rehearsal plan based on the musical constraints of the work. ^ The marriage of these stages will aid in the performance of Beethoven's Meeres Stille und Glückliche Fahrt. A synthesis of Beethoven's literature pertinent to the score analysis, scholarly references dealing with the conducting gesture, and discussions related to rehearsal planning will also be included.^

Subject Area

Music

Recommended Citation

Last, Andrew C, "A Deep Stillness Reigns on the Water: A conductor's guide" (2012). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3522238.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3522238

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