onsdag 24. februar 2010

Gustav Mahler og et norsk frelsesarméorkester

Inspirert av en innsiktsfull kommentar til innlegget Strengespil 1 har jeg funnet en engelsk oversettelse av den østerrikske komponisten og dirigenten Gustav Mahlers reisebrev fra Norge august 1891. Han besøkte Moss, Oslo, Drammen, Larvik og Kristiansand og beskriver i levende ordlag mennesker, byer og landskap. Jeg leter etter hans skildring av en båttur der han ble underholdt av et frelsesarméorkester og finner det i brev nr. 186. Etter å ha besøkt Drammen, reiste han med båt til Larvik og går der om bord i et skip som skal ta ham til Kristiansand:

Uvær i Skagerak
This trip through the Norwegian "skerries" was the most enjoyable of my whole tour. On the one side, the most characteristic images of rocks—and cliffs—also islands—one moment barren, the next even covered with houses or lighthouses. On the other, the wonderful, richly articulated Norwegian coast. In between, always little sections of open sea!—The wind blew hard, and when we came out of the skerries into the open sea, it drove along the waves of the Kat[t]egat. At such moments the ship tossed back and forth—fortunately, I was spared from seasickness.

Frelsesarmésoldater underholder
On the ship, it turns out that there was a “Salvation Army” trupe among us—about 8 men and just as many women in very funny uniforms and with just as funny manners. Later on, they took up 3 guitars, a violin, and a trumpet and began to tune their instruments.—Because of that, I really became attentive, and saw they all had large crests (on the men’s caps and the women’s shoulders) that read: "Frölse’s Army"—I didn’t know without asking, although I suspected, that they were the ‘famous Salvation army,’ of which you will have just heard as much as I had before now: namely, the name.
So, they tuned for about an hour. All the passengers stood attentively in order to hear them—admittedly, some were puking over the side, as the ship rode up and down over high swells.

Jesus Christ og Portugal
Finally, they began to sing, the women with squeaky voices, and the men with croaky ones. In fact, it was apparent that they all hardly knew either the words or the music, so that they took the helm alternately, just if they knew how to continue, so that it was mostly a kind of antiphonal singing. 4 women and a man made up the orchestra—the first 3 played guitar and a violin, and the last played trumpet. It immediately stood out that the violin player held the bow right in the middle.—The song was a very funny ballad with a sacred text, of which I understood only the word "Jesus Christ" and Portugal. We arrived in Christiansund [Kristiansand] at 8:00 p.m.—In the morning in the long-hidden sun came out right after our departure.—When we came into the harbor here, we saw the French fleet there.
( The Mahler Family Letters, Editor: Stephen McClathie, Oxford University Press, s. 130-131)
Les brevene i sin helhet her

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