In this video, Violinist Susanna Yoko Henkel plays a simple but incredibly moving tune by Franz Schubert “Ave Maria” From the album “The Christmas Stradivari” (2013).
Schubert’s Ave Maria isn’t the most popular Ave Maria out there, Bach also composed music for this song which originally was written by Walter Scott.
Its Full name: “Ellens dritter Gesang” (“Ellens Gesang III”, D. 839, Op. 52, No. 6, 1825), in English: “Ellen’s Third Song”. The Austrian composer Franz Schubert wrote it in 1825 , aged 28 as a humble Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary, the mother of the Christian God, from a frightened girl, Ellen Douglas, who had been forced into hiding. It was a part of his Opus 52, a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott’s popular epic poem The Lady of the Lake (1810), loosely translated into German by Adam Storck (1780-1822). However, “Ave Maria” (Franz Schubert) contains the words ‘Ave Maria’, but only in reference to the prayer itself.
In Scott’s poem, the titular character Ellen Douglas, the Lady of the Lake (Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands), has gone with her exiled father to stay in the Goblin’s cave as he has declined to join their previous host, Roderick Dhu, in rebellion against King James. Roderick Dhu, the chieftain of Clan Alpine, sets off up the mountain with his warriors, but lingers and hears the distant sound of the harpist Allan-bane, accompanying Ellen who sings a prayer to the Virgin Mary, calling upon her for help.and is overheard by Roderick Dhu as he heads off to battle. The original lyric is sung to Virgin Mary for help and guidance. The Schubert song is based on this story, but the song/tune also exist with other lyrics, like with the Latin Ave Maria prayer.
Schubert’s “Ave Maria” was arranged in three versions for piano by composer Franz Liszt. It has also been performed hundreds of times by a wide variety and large number of artists under the title of Ave Maria with different lyrics which commonly differ from the original context of the poem. In addition, There are also many different arrangements of the work including for violin and guitar, piano solo, cello…
Some artists who have recorded beautiful versions of Schubert’s “Ave Maria”: Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Andre Rieu, Barbara Bonney and David Garrett. Also, some pop songs were inspired by this song like Beyonce’s one and Celine Dion’s one.
Is Ave Maria a funeral song?
Not every occasion that calls for singing “Ave maria” has to be a joyful and festive one. At times, we sing it to our departed loved ones. Although it is one of the most popular and moving wedding songs, after tenor Luigi Vena’s performed it at John F. Kennedy’s funeral, It became one of beautiful pieces of classical music for funerals.
Maybe you would like to listen: Pianist Khatia Buniatishvili plays Schubert: Impromptu No. 3