Albert Giraud's Pierrot Lunaire

By Albert Giraud; Gregory C. Richter | Go to book overview

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

Portions of Albert Giraud's greatest work, Pierrot Lunaire, are well known. Tw enty-one poems of the total fifty provide the text for Arnold Schoenberg's 1912 composition Pierrot Lunaire, op. 21, a song cycle that has proved to be one of the defining compositions of the twentieth century. Among modern works, its influence is matched only by that of Igor Stravinsky's 1913 Le sacre de printemps [The Rite of Spring]. The texts, however, are sung in German using the translations by Otto Erich Hartleben, some of which differ widely from the French originals.1 Va r ious English translations of the German renditions appear on record jackets, and Andrew Porter's fine English renderings of the twenty-one Hartleben translations appear in the volume From Pierrot to Marteau (1987). Never before, however, have the French poems been translated directly into English, and never before have Hartleben's creative renditions appeared alongside their models. This trilingual edition of the entire work seeks to achieve both of these ends. The original French versions are presented on the verso pages, and the English translations appear on the recto pages, opposite the original French. Readers with a knowledge of German will be able to judge and appreciate Hartleben's versions as well, which are presented beneath the French originals.2 Susan Youens notes Hartleben's own comment that he often did not [translate] the poems, but instead took up a few motifs to create his own poem.3 The current English renderings are closer to the French than are most of the German versions, but of course no poetic translation can do more than suggest the original poem. The current volume allows the reader to view in its entirety, and in order, the source that inspired Hartleben. This, in turn, sheds light on the importance of the French fin de siècle as a

1Albert Giraud, Pierrot Lunaire, tr. Otto Erich Hartleben (Berlin: Verlag Deutscher Phan-
tasten, 1893).

2In two cases—nos. 15 and 25—Hartleben created two versions. One differs widely from
the original, while the other is more similar; both are included in the present edition.

3Susan Youens, [The Texts of Pierrot Lunaire, op 21,] Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg
Institute
8, no. 2 (November 1984): 94–115, here 103.

-xiii-

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Albert Giraud's Pierrot Lunaire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Translator's Note xiii
  • Pierrot Lunaire 1
  • About the Translator 106
  • References 107
  • Subject Index 111
  • Index of Titles and First Lines 114
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