[Smt-talk] Looking for bad text settings

Guerin, William Brian wguerin at indiana.edu
Fri Aug 22 19:53:30 PDT 2014

Speaking of Handel, of course there is also his famous mis-setting: “The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorrup-TI-ble"
This aria is almost always performed in a corrected version, but Andrew Parrott uses Handel’s original, warts and all:

Another example by Handel that has always struck me as poor setting is, from Israel in Egypt: “thy right hand, O Lord, is BE-come glorious."

And now for something completely different… a much more obscure example occurs in the final verse of Kurt Weill’s song “Petroleum-Song (Die Muschel von Margate)”, wherein he erroneously puts the accent on the penultimate syllable of the word “Aserbeidschan” (Azerbaijan).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR-1qTYhu6k (around 2:06)

All best, —Bill

William Guerin
Ph.D. candidate, Music Theory, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
Software Engineer, IU Music Information Technology Services
wguerin at indiana.edu

From: David K Feurzeig <mozojo at gmail.com<mailto:mozojo at gmail.com>>
Date: Friday, August 22, 2014 at 5:17 PM
To: Paul Siskind <siskinpa at potsdam.edu<mailto:siskinpa at potsdam.edu>>
Cc: <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org<mailto:smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Looking for bad text settings

Recent contributions reminded me of this classic, from Handel's Messiah:

     All we like sheep

     (…have gone astray)

It's not exactly bad scansion, but no native English speaker would have put that pause before completing the simile. (German does not have a homonym that can mean both "resemble" and "are fond of".)

This lick has occasioned adolescent chorister twittering for decades--perhaps centuries?

So has this one, from Mendelssohn's Saint Paul:

He watching over Israel,
Slumbers not nor sleeps.    (read: "slumber, snot, snore, sleep")

Again, nothing "wrong", but one imagines only a non-native speaker could have written it.

David Feurzeig
Associate Professor, Composition and Theory
Department of Music and Dance
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405

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