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Gretchen's Prayer
Song without words (op. 72)

Elias Parish Alvars (1808-1849)
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Cover image Work: Single work for solo harp
Catalogue No: Adlais 180
ISMN: 979-0-57032-163-6
Edition: 2010 A4 stapled
Duration: c. 2' 25" minutes
Suitable for: Grade 5-6 Pedal Harp
Price:: £6.00  Go to shop
See all Adlais Publications by Elias Parish Alvars

Gretchen's Prayer – Song without words (op. 72)

Gretchen's Prayer is the second of Parish Alvars's two Illustrations of German Poetry for the Harp, published simultaneously in both Mainz (Schott) and London (Boosey), the latter firm publishing the piece in its Foreign Musical Library series.

The text on Boosey's title page is in German and reads:
Gretchens Gebilt vor dem Bilde / der Mater Dolorosa / Lied ohne Wörter/für die Harfe / Componirt und der Fräulein Rosalie Mayer / zugeeignet von / Parish Alvars [ Gretchen's Prayer before the figure / of the Mater Dolorosa (Our Lady of the Sorrows) / Song without words / for the Harp / composed for and dedicated to Miss Rosalie Mayer / by Parish Alvars]

Gretchen is the tragic heroine of Goethe's brilliant epic melodrama 'Faust', published in 1808, and widely considered to be the greatest work of German literature.

The scene is set on the city ramparts, where Gretchen is at a shrine dedicated to the Mater Dolorosa, set in a niche in the wall. She places flowers in a vase, and kneels to pray.

Ach neige
Du Schmerzenreide
Dein Antlitz gnädig meiner Noth

Wohin ich immer gehe
Wie weh, wie weh, wie wehe
Wird mir im Buden hier!
Ich wein, ich wein, ich weine
Das Herz zerbricht in mir

Lady of the Sorrows, look down
With pity on my pain

Wherever I go
What woe, what woe, what woe
Ah, how my bosom aches!
I'm weeping, weeping, weeping
My innermost heart is breaking

Gretchen's Prayer is dedicated to Rosalie Mayer. Both she and her mother, Leopoldina Mayer, were students of Parish Alvars in the 1840s. Rosalie must have been a favourite pupil, as she was the dedicatee of two other pieces of his, the Souvenir of Naples, Il Papagallo (op.85) and the Souvenir de Taglioni (op.88), which Parish Alvars composed specially for the famous ballerina, Maria Taglioni, who, accompanied from the pit by Parish Alvars himself, inserted it into her Viennese performances of Adam's La Fille du Danube during the 1839 season.

Front cover of the score

Sample of the music