To celebrate the spirit of this holiday I'm sharing with you a piece by my favorite composer, Franz Schubert. Schubert wrote little for solo violin or cello, his symphonies are not his crowning jewel. In the string world he is best known for his string quartets - one of which was briefly featured in The Avengers! Overall, Schubert is truly known for his Lieder (German meaning "songs." The singular is "Lied.")
The Elf King represents Schubert's ability to write programmatic music. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote the poem in 1782. Schubert began composing music set to Goethe's words in 1815, but revised it several times, leaving us with the most recent version from 1821.
Originally for tenor and piano, Erlkonig takes us on a journey with a father and son who have gone on a horse ride late at night. For those of you who feel your children will sleep at night after hearing the story feel free to share the translated version (or the German version if you're feeling really bold!) found in the description of the first youtube video below. The piece is challenging vocally because the singer must portray four characters: the narrator, the father, the son, and the Elf King. The pianist also has a difficult job, you'll understand once you hear it!
Why am I sharing a piece that isn't written for a string instrument? Because there are transcriptions! A transcription is a piece of music that has been rewritten for a different instrumentation than the original version. Below the original version you will find two recordings of cellists and one of a violinist. I chose the video with the notes so, even if you aren't reading music yet, you can see there is a lot that just one violinist is doing!
Enjoy the music and happy Halloween!
Transcriptions for cello
Transcription for violin