....Just Another Tune

Songs & Their History



Robert Burns in 19th-Century Germany:
"Phillis The Fair" & "Had I A Cave"

(a preliminary list)


Robert Burns' songs and poems were immensely popular in the German speaking countries during the 19th century. This can be seen from the great amount of translations of his works that were published at that time. There is an incomplete list at Wikisource and references to even more can be found in the standard work to this topic, H.-J. Kupper's Burns im deutschen Sprachraum (Bern 1979). Thankfully a considerable number of these publications are available online:

A lot of these translations and adaptations were also published with music, sometimes with the original melodies in arrangements for all kinds of instruments, but often also with new tunes. The most often published song of Burns was surely "My Heart's In The Highland", in German "Mein Herz ist im Hochland". It is listed 136 (!) times in Hofmeisters Monatsberichten (see Hofmeister XIX) between 1829 and 1900. Moreover it was also regularly published in songbooks (see for example the list at DeutschesLied.com), often with a different tune and I am sure it was the most successful and most popular of all imported foreign songs in 19th century Germany. But here I am interested in the two songs Robert Burns had written in 1793 to the melody of "Robin Adair" in 1793: "Phillis The Fair" and "Had I A Cave".

Burns was not that happy with "Phillis", his first attempt. In a letter to publisher George Thompson he complained that this tune (i. e. "Robin Adair") "is such a damned, cramp, out-of-the-way measure, that I despair of doing any thing better to it" (Lockhart, No. XXXI, p. 403)

      While larks, with little wing, fann'd the pure air,
      Tasting the breathing Spring, forth I did fare:
      Gay the sun's golden eye
      Peep'd o'er the mountains high;
      Such thy morn! did I cry,
      Phillis the fair.

      In each bird's careless song, glad I did share;
      While yon wild-flowers among, chance led me there!
      Sweet to the op'ning day,
      Rosebuds bent the dewy spray;
      Such thy bloom! did I say,
      Phillis the fair.

      Down in a shady walk, doves cooing were;
      I mark'd the cruel hawk caught in a snare:
      So kind may fortune be,
      Such make his destiny,
      He who would injure thee,
      Phillis the fair.

In the next letter to Mr. Thomson he then reported that "that crinkum-crankum tune, [...] has run so in my head, and I succeeded so ill in my last attempt, that I have ventured, in this morning's walk, one essay more" (Lockhart, No. XXXIII, p. 404). The result of this efforts was "Had I A Cave":

      Had I a cave on some wild, distant shore,
      Where the winds howl to the waves' dashing roar:
      There would I weep my woes,
      There seek my lost repose,
      Till grief my eyes should close,
      Ne'er to wake more.

      Falsest of womankind, canst thou declare
      All thy fond, plighted vows - fleeting as air!
      To thy new lover hie,
      Laugh o'er thy perjury,
      Then in thy bosom try
      What peace is there!

The latter became more or less a standard in Britain as well as in North America and was regularly published again with the original melody in all kinds of song collections, for example in R. A. Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh 1825, p. 96, available at the Internet Archive):


But for some reason in Germany adaptations of "Phillis The Fair" were much more often set to music than those of "Had I A Cave". All in all I found - with the help of Hofmeister XIX - 18 published versions of these two songs, 16 of the former and only two of the latter. I will list here together with a link to the relevant page in the Monatsberichte. I have also searched for these publications in library catalogs - the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog was especially helpful - to see if and where they are available.

Apparently the German composers preferred the translations by poet Wilhelm Gerhard. His version of "Phillis The Fair" seems to have been the most popular. It was called "Liebliche Maid" or sometimes also according to the first line "Früh Mit Der Lerche Sang" (No. 162, p. 266, see the note, p. 359, at Google Books). Gerhard had a somehow colourful language but his text now sounds very old-fashioned, not to say way past its selling date:

      Früh mit der Lerche Sang
      Wandert ich weit,
      Schlürfte was Wies' entlang,
      Labung verleiht.
      Heiter und goldenrein,
      Rief ich, wie Lenzes Schein,
      Möge dein Morgen sein,
      Liebliche Maid!

      Mich haben Vöglein dort
      Singend erfreut,
      Blumen am stillen Ort,
      Duft mir gestreut,
      Wie aus betautem Grün
      Knospen der Rose glüh'n,
      Soll deine Jugend blüh'n,
      Liebliche Maid!
      Girrende Taube fliegt
      Frei durch die Haid;
      Falk' in der Schlinge liegt
      Schafft nicht mehr Leid.
      Treffe sein Missgeschick ihn,
      Der mit Wort und Blick
      Trübte dein stilles Glück,
      Liebliche Maid!

This text was supplied with a new tune by nine composers:

  • Carl Krebs
    Liebliche Maid. Lied  für eine Singstimme mit Pianoforte-Begleitung, Opus 72 (Früh mit der Lerche Sang), Hamburg, Schuberth & Co.
    December 1840, p. 172
    ÖNB: MS33131-4° , Frankfurt: Mus. pr. Q 18/1836 , Darmstadt: Mus 8320 Bd. 27
  • Hubert-Ferdinand Kufferath
    Sechs Lieder von Robert Burns übersetzt von W. Gerhard für Tenor oder Sopran mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, Op.3 : [...] 4. Liebliche Maid [...], Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel

    December 1841, p. 190
    Bibliothek des Händel-Hauses, Halle (catalog entry GBV, now); Bibliothéque royale de Belgique: Mus. 6.786 C 1
    [see the review in AMZ, Vol. 43, No. 49, Dezember 1841, p. 1041, at Google Books]
    This was now (10.2.2013) thankfully made available online by Händel-Haus, Halle (at Museum-Digital Sachsen-Anhalt)
  • Maria Heinrich Schmidt
    12 Lieder von Robert Burns (deutsch von W. Gerhard), Opus 2, 1. Heft ([...] "Früh mit der Lerche sang" [...]), Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel
    Januar 1842, p. 13
    [no extant copy?]
  • Moritz Hauptmann
    12 Lieder mit Pianoforte Begleitung, Opus 28, 2. Heft ([...] No. 10: "Liebliche Maid" [...]), Leipzig, Peters,
    August 1842, p. 127
    see RISM (ID No. 452520656)
    UB Frankfurt: Mus. pr. Q 54/620;  BStB: 4 Mus.pr. 21123-2, BNU Strasbourg: BH.14.351,2  
  • Caroline Wiseneder
    Die Kraft der Erinnerung. Liebliche Maid. 2 Lieder, Opus 8, Braunschweig, Weinholtz
    Juni 1843, p. 93
    [no extant copy?]
  • Robert Franz
    12 Gesänge von R. Burns, Fr. Rückert und W. Osterwald für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte,  Opus 4, Heft 1 ([...] No. 3: "Liebliche Maid (Früh mit der Lerche Sang)" [...]), Leipzig, Kistner
    September 1845, p. 141 & März 1862, p. 52
    Later edition ("neue veränderte Ausgabe"): BStB 2 Mus.pr. 2213#Beibd.4 (available online)
    This piece was also reprinted in a couple of song collections;  an American edition: Album Of Songs, Old And New, Boston, n. d. [c. 1880], available at IMSLP )
  • J. P. Goldberg
    Liebliche Maid. Opus 32, Wien, Spina
    Februar 1853, p. 173
    English edition [1877?],  BL: Music Collections H.1778.p.(49.), s. Copac
  • Heinrich Esser
    6 Lieder von Robert Burns, Opus 61. ([...] "Liebliche Maid" [...])

    Januar 1860, p. 18
    [no extant copy?]
  • J. Muck
    2 Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Pianofortebegleitung, Opus 14 (Wiegenlied für den Sohn eines schottischen Häuptlings, Liebliche Maid.), Offenbach, André
    Juni 1860, p. 112
    Tschechische Nationalbibliothek: 59 A 003750

Kaufmann's translation  had appeared a year before Gerhard's (1839, "Lerchen in Heitrer Luft", p. 32, at Google Books):

      Lerchen in heitrer Luft
      Singen im Blau,
      Nun lockt des Lenzes Duft
      Mich nach der Au.
      Sonne, du Himmelsaug,
      Klar aus den Bergen tauch!
      So ist dein Morgenhauch,
      Herziges Kind!

      Vöglein mit holdem Gang
      Füllt mir die Brust,
      Blümlein hold auf dem Gang
      Schau ich mit Lust.
      Lieblich auf bunter Au
      Öffnet dem Perlenthau
      Röslein die Brust, o schau,
      Grad' wie mein Kind!

      Sieh, wie das Taubenpaar
      Herzet und minnt,
      Nun sitz im Nest der Aar,
      Kein Arg mehr sinnt.
      Möge das Schicksal weih'n
      Jedem zu gleicher Pein,
      Der tränkt das Herzchen dein,
      Mein süßes Kind!

But nonetheless this text was used only by two composers:

  • H. F. Truhn
    Himmelsbote. Lebewohl. Lerchen. Lieder von R. Burns. Opus 68 (Himmelsbote, Strahl der Sterne – Einen Kuss – Lerchen in heitrer Luft.) Berlin, Schlesinger
    November 1844, p. 172
    [no extant copy?]
  • Josef Rheinberger
    Wache Träume. 7 Lieder und Gesänge für 1 mittlere Stimme, Opus 57 ([...] No. 3. Lerchen in heitrer Luft [...]), Offenbach, André
    August/September 1872, p. 192
    This is available in a couple of libraries but also in a new edition, 2004, see the site of the Carus-Verlag (with a pdf of an "evaluation copy")
    [Rheinberger only used Kaufmann's first verse, but then added Gerhard's second and third; in fact it is a strange mixture of both]

Another translation of "Phillis The Fair" by Adolf von Winterfeld (Berlin 1860, "Phillis Mein Kind", p. 70, at Google Books) also found the favor of some composers:

      Während die Lerche sang
      Phillis, mein Kind!
      Macht' ich 'nen Morgengang
      Mit meiner Flint'.
      Rosiger Sonnenschein
      Lachte in's Thal hinein;
      So mög' Dein Morgen sein,
      Phillis, mein Kind!

      Wanderte immerfort,
      Phillis, mein Kind!
      Zu meinem Lieblingsort
      Wo Blumen sind.
      Wo in dem thau'gen Grün
      Röslein verschämt erglüh'n;
      Mögest Du auch so blüh';n,
      Phillis, mein Kind!

      Täubchen, auf grüner Wand,
      Küßten geschwind;
      Habicht, der d'rüber stand,
      Traf meine Flint'.
      So mög'; es jedem geh'n
      Wagt er es Dich zu schmäh'n,
      Schief nur Dich anzuseh'n,
      Phillis, mein Kind!

At least five of them tried their hand at creating music for this text:

  • Josef Fleischer
    Drei Lieder für 1 Singstimme mit Pianoforte, Opus 9 (No. 1. Phillis, mein Kind: "Während die Lerche sang" [...]) Prag, Weiner
    Mai 1887, p. 245
    Tschechische Nationalbibliothek : 59 D 006879
  • Ferdinand Debois
    Männerchöre ([...] 18. Phillis mein Kind: "Während die Lerche sang" [...]), Wien, Rörich

    August 1890, p. 334
    [no extant copy?]
  • Ignaz Brüll, Fünf Lieder für 1 mittlere Singstimme mit Pianoforte, Opus 63, (3. Phillis, mein Kind: "Während die Lerche sang"), Wien, Döblinger
    Januar 1891, p. 23
    ÖNB: MS34193-4°
    [Song No. 4, "Herab von den Bergen", is available online at the Internet Archive]
  • Eduard Göttl, Phillis, mein Kind: "Im Frühlingswind, während die Lerche sang" für Bariton.-Solo mit Brummstimme, Opus 32, Leipzig, Robitschek
    Dezember 1896, p. 626
    ÖNB: MS5232-4°/15,29
  • Fritz Baselt
    Drei Gesänge für 4 Männerstimmen, Opus 89. (3. Phillis, mein Kind: "Im Frühlingswind, während die Lerche sang"), Leipzig, Siegel

    Februar 1898, p. 53
    [no extant copy?]

Kaufmann also created a German adaptation of "Had I A Cave" (1839, p. 112, "Hätt' Eine Höhl' Ich Am Strand"):

      Hätt' eine Höhl' ich am Strand fern und wild,
      Wo der Wind heult, wo die Woge laut brüllt,
      Dort, mein Herz, weintest du,
      Suchtest verlorne Ruh,
      Gram schlöß' die Augen zu,
      Ewig gestillt.

      Falschestes Weib, o sag an mir, wo sind
      Alle die Schwüre dein, leicht wie der Wind?
      Eile zum Buhlen dein!
      Magst dich des Meineids freu'n!
      Dann blick' in's Herz hinein,
      Ob Ruh es find't!

Thankfully at least two composers ensured that this variant was not completely neglected:

  • Grädener, C.G.P.,  Herbstklänge. 7 Lieder für eine tiefe Stimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, Opus 18 ([...] "Hätt' eine Höhl' ich" [...]), Winterthur, Rieter-Biedermann
    Februar 1857, p. 30
    UB Basel: kk XVII 4188 ; ÖNB: MS33803-4°
  • Truhn, F. H., Op. 112. Zwei Poesien von Schiller und Rob. Burns. Für eine Singstimme mit Pianoforte-Begleitung, Opus 112. 1. Poesie von R. Burns
    Oktober 1863, p. 196
    UDK Berlin: RA 3541 -1/RA 3542 -1

This is of course only a preliminary list. I have no doubts that there were even more. But 18 new tunes for this particular pair of songs is still an astonishing number. Unfortunately only two (Kufferath und Franz) have been digitized yet and one (Rheinberger) is available in a modern edition. But apparently six of them (Schmidt, Wiseneder, Esser, Truhn's "Himmelbote", Debois, Baselt) may be lost. At this point I know of no extant copies of these prints. The remaining nine publications can be found in libraries but are scattered all over Europe. Most of them seem to be very rare with only one or two extant copies that have survived. I will try to get at least some of them in the near future.

These 18 melodies all had to compete with "Robin Adair", the original tune for these two songs. At the moment I have only seen four of them - those by Kufferath, Franz, Grädener and Rheinberger - and I don't get the impression that they are in any way better than their predecessor. Rheinberger has completely changed the song's mood, his tune is supposed to sound "bewegt und fröhlich", as can be seen on the sheet music. And the one by Robert Franz sounds nice, it is a simple and pleasant melody for what was called back then a "Lied im Volkston":

1. "Liebliche Maid", 12 Gesänge von R. Burns, Fr. Rückert und W. Osterwald für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte,  Opus 4, Heft 1 , No. 3: (1845, 1862)
Grädener's "Hätt' Eine Höhl' Ich Am Strand" on the other hand sounds somehow dark and I wonder what Burns would have thought of it: 

"Hätt' Eine Höhl' Ich Am Strand" , text (first verse only) & tune in: C. P. G. Grädener, Herbstklänge. 7 Lieder für eine tiefe Stimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte, Op. 18, Winterthur [1857], No. 2, p. 4; from digital copy of the exemplary at UB Basel, kk XVII 4188


Literature & Online Resources

  • BStB-DS = Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Digitale Sammlungen
  • Hofmeister = Musikalisch-literarischer Monatsbericht neuer Musikalien, musikalischer Schriften und Abbildungen, Hofmeister, Leipzig 1829ff (online available at Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; searchable database: Hofmeister XIX (Royal Holloway, University Of London)
  • Hans Jürg Kupper, Robert Burns im deutschen Sprachraum unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der schweizerischen Übersetzungen von August Corrodi, Bern 1979 (Basler Studien zur deutschen sprache und Literatur 56)
  • John Lockhart (ed.), The Songs of Robert Burns, Containing His Life, New York 1835 (Google Books & The Internet Archive)

See also on this site:


      Comments: Please send a mail to info[at]justanothertune.com

    Compiled by Jürgen Kloss
    January/February 2014

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