Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Victor Hugo and Arthur Frackenpohl - nhpeacenik
Victor Hugo and Arthur Frackenpohl
While in Ann Arbor visiting our daughter Iona last week, we went to an impressive library book sale, where I acquired, among other things a 1935 book callled Sung Under the Silver Umbrella: Poems for Young Children, chosen by the Association for Childhood Education. Looking through the book this evening, I came upon a familiar lyric, attributed to Victor Hugo. (actually, there are a lot of other gems in this book, too)

A while back I asked if anybody knew the origin of the song "Be Like a Bird", that Libana sings. It turns out that it is a translation of a saying/poem of Victor Hugo, set to a tune by Arthur Frackenpohl. Knowing the Victor Hugo connection, it was easy to find out more using Google. I still have not tracked down the specific source of the  original Victor Hugo quote, which is, in French, 
Soyez comme l’oiseau posé pour un instant sur des rameaux trop frêles qui sent plier la branche, et qui chante pourtant, sachant qu’il a des ailes.
and is certainly in the public domain, and I don't know the name of the translator or when the words were translated, so I don't know if the translated words are in the public domain, but I guess that the tune is not in the public domain, since the writer of it was born in 1924 and is seemingly still alive. Having already recorded my parody version of it, I am wondering whether it qualifies as a fair-use parody or whether I should try to contact Mr. Frackenpohl for permission, or take it down.

Two translations that are close but not identical to the song text are found in the 1901 magazine:

Any ideas?

Tags: , , , , ,

3 comments or Leave a comment
From: sonoran_scrawl Date: May 23rd, 2009 08:58 am (UTC) (Link)
interesting. i love your version. sometime i need to get back to last fm. hard to do a lot.
nhpeacenik From: nhpeacenik Date: May 23rd, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sigh, I might have to take it down if the cost of performance rights is too high (as I mention in the "reply" below). I really appreciate your listening to it so consciously and passing it on. The folk process needs to continue somehow.
nhpeacenik From: nhpeacenik Date: May 23rd, 2009 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got in touch with Mr Frackenpohl, who is a classical composer, by email. He says he doesn't control performance rights to the score any more and directed me to a commercial agent. The sheet music is for sale at http://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/Be-Like-The-Bird/267421 .
He said Libana had recorded the song as a folk tune (I'm not quite sure what he means.I assume he means that the first time they recorded it, Libana didn't know where it came from any more than I did; but maybe he means that the tune really is a folk tune, and that what he did is just to arrange it for a choir of juvenile voices, and Libana heard a performance of it somewhere.) He also said he didn't know who the translator of his version of the words was.

He also asked to hear my version (EEK!), which leaves me with quite a bit of trepidation, since I'm not a professional musician by any stretch of the imagination.
3 comments or Leave a comment