En Landsbyhistorie - Andersen's Forgotten Success Play

The Germanism "success play" (for "Erfolgsstück") in the title is intentional, for En Landsbyhistorie is a "Germanism" in H. C. Andersen's dramatic production. It was an adaptation of a then fresh popular success he had seen at the Burgtheater in Vienna in May, 1854, Salomon Hermann Mosenthal's Der Sonnwendhof, and was first produced at the Casino Theatre on January 17, 1855, after Heiberg at Det Kongelige had shown no interest. Andersen's love of the stage, whether as an actor, a singer, a dancer or a playwright, was, as we know, largely unrequited. Of his own plays, only the one-act comedy Den nye Barselstue and the three fairy-tale plays he wrote for Casino-teatret around 1850, Meer end Perler og Guld, Ole Lukøje and Hyldemor, became real hits. Another one-act comedy, Den Usynlige paa Sprogø, was played 22 times at Det Kongelige and 29 times at the Casino; apart from these, En Landsbyhistorie was, with 31 performances, his greatest success on the stage. It is true that this figure was exceeded by the 44 performances, at Det Kongelige, of his translation of Bayard's play about Queen Christina of Sweden, Dronningen paa 16 Aar; but that was a straight translation while in En Landsbyhistorie there is a larger input from Andersen's hand by virtue of the 21 musical numbers he introduced into what in its original form was a straight skuespil.

First a word about the playwright, who is as forgotten now as he was famous in his own day. Salomon Hermann Mosenthal was born in Kassel in 1821 into a Jewish family. He studied science at the Karlsruhe Polytechnic and came to Vienna, a young man of 21, as a private tutor. In 1846 he published a collection of poems and wrote a successful play for the Josephstadt Theatre, Der Holländer Michel. In 1850 he was given a position in the Department for Culture and Education, and in the same year his most successful play, Deborah, was produced; in New York it was performed 400 times in 1862, in London more than 500 times in the 1863-64 season. Mosenthal wrote verse tragedies for the actress Charlotte Wolter and half a dozen opera texts, the best-known of which were Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor and Brüll's Das goldene Kreuz. He remained a productive author, especially for the stage, until his death at the age of 56, and a year later, in 1878, his collected works were published in six volumes.

Der Sonnwendhof was, like Deborah, a "Volksschauspiel", which means more than just a "popular play". It is a play taking place among simple country folk who speak if not dialect, at least a strongly regional variety of the standard language. The plots are generally romantic dramas about conflicts between the generations, between love and property, village community and outsider, greed and compassion, revenge and forgiveness. They were in favour, especially with amateur dramatic societies in the countryside, long into our century, until soap operas on television made them redundant. In German literature, Anzengruber's plays are the best known representatives of the genre, and in fiction they were parallelled by a profusion of "Dorfgeschichten", village stories, among which Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's Judenbuche is the best known in Germany.

The story of the Sonnwendhof could not be more typical. There is a shunned and vilified outsider, Anna, who, in spite of being hard-working and demure, seems to leave a train of destruction in the farms where she has been employed, due to the fatal attraction she exerts on otherwise level-headed and stable farmers' sons. One killed himself for her sake, one ran away and joined the army; nobody knows her background, and she is unwilling to talk about it. She herself has come to believe that a curse attaches to her because she is the daughter of a man who was generally considered the cause of a destructive fire in which he and other people perished. At the beginning of the play she finds work at the Sonnwendhof, Solhvervsgaarden in the Danish text, which is owned by Monica, a thoroughly decent and pious youngish widow, who tries to make up for the stinginess of her late husband, who had given her and the servants a tough time. Solhvervsgaarden, just rebuilt, is the very epitome of a settled, orderly, hard-working and prosperous rural mini-community, although Crescenz, the head female servant, who has a sharp tongue and a suspicious mind but is deeply attached to the farm, cannot understand Monica's open-handedness with beggars and her trusting attitude to strangers. But Anna's evil spell seems to work here, too. Valentin, Monica's trusted steward and her chosen future husband, an orphan like Anna, falls madly in love with the newcomer, although she avoids him and rejects him. Monica, deeply hurt, makes Anna swear that she has told the truth, that she has not allured Valentin, that she does not desire him for herself, and that she does not love him. Anna can take an oath on all points except the last one; at this solemn moment she realises that she is in love with him. So we seem to be left with three broken hearts, at least one of them in a suicidal mood.

But thanks to the romantic villain everything ends in harmony, for villainy, by its own self-destructiveness, ultimately serves a good purpose. The villain is Mathias, the good-for-nothing elder brother of the dead farmer, who was chased away by his father, squandered his part of the heritage, is given to drink and gambling, an aggressive, resentful and arrogant man who now drifts back to his childhood home in the hope of disputing the widow's ownership of the farm. When Monica can prove her claim and ejects him because he upsets the household, he conceives a plan of setting fire to the new farmhouse. He looks for a partner in crime to whom the blame could be sheeted home, but neither a wandering tinker nor Crescenz, who has been dismissed for insubordination, are willing to go along with him. He finally thinks he has found the right person in Anna, another reject of society, but she, desperate though she is, recognises in him the man her dying father pointed to as the firebug. Mathias, who sees what he believed a well-hidden crime catching up with him, falls to his death when a crucifix he holds on to breaks, and Anna, delivered from the shadow of the past, is free to marry the man she loves while Monica resigns herself to the failure of her plans - in the words of the motto she had painted on the farmhouse, "Je nun so denn", in Andersen's more explicitly pious turn of phrase, "I Vel og Vee / Guds Villie skee!"

These main characters are surrounded by a number of others, a couple of minor comic types, a truly wise clergyman, and farmhands displaying varying degrees of prejudice or kindness. Given the limitations of the period and the genre, which included a fatal penchant for monologues, it is a well-constructed play with a lively and often colourful dialogue which sometimes is more sophisticated than the conventional story makes us expect - there is, for instance, a discussion between Mathias and the clergyman while they play cards, the ethical imperative against the Communist Manifesto, so to say, which is a great deal subtler than what other Volksschauspiele have to offer. One can also see why Andersen would find the story of a vindicated outsider victim, of innocent pure love rewarded and of a middle-aged person, after some struggle, renouncing her claim to personal happiness, attractive. Gottfried Keller was definitely too harsh in calling the play an odd collection of melodramatic effects.

If we first look at the bulk of the text where Andersen follows Mosenthal's original closely, we find that he translates not slavishly, but generally accurately. There are only very few passages where he could be said to have misunderstood the text, which with its Austrian colouring is not all that immediately accessible to a German-speaking audience either. He must have misunderstood "Wenn ein Aufgebot ist" (57)1 when he translated it as "naar det særdeles forlanges" (82) instead of "når der bliver lyst til ægteskab". He probably misread "die Dirn, die stolze, die herrische, an die ich nicht mag" (28) as "die ich nicht mag" since he translates it as "som jeg har et ondt Øje til" (41) instead of "som jeg ikke vover mig på". Equally, "Laßt's gut sein" (10) does not mean "Jeg forstaaer det saa godt" (13) but "Ikke mere af det". In other cases he may have changed details on purpose, as when he substitutes, in the reference to a horse, "min Graa" for "der Scheck" (den brogede). Sometimes he adds a little to the text, both in the dialogue and in the scene directions; more often he shortens. Instead of enumerating random examples, I will quote a sample passage which gives a fair idea of the sort of liberty Andersen takes with the text.

Bäuerin (faßt ihre Hand, mit gepreßter, ergriffener Stimme) Glaubst weher, als du mir? So will ich dir sagen, was man sonst nur mit Feuer auf der Wang' seiner besten Freundin sagt; schau: den Valentin hab' ich lieb, zehntausendmal lieber als ich mich selbst hab'. Schau, ich hab' mich oft gefragt, wozu ich auf der Welt sei? Zum Heuen und Schneiden, zum Kochen und Wirtschaften, das schien mir der Wert nicht; da auf einmal, da hab' ich's eingesehen, da ist's wie ein Lämplein aufgegangen in mir und hat mir das Innere erleuchtet, immer lichter und heller und zuletzt wie die Sonn' so warm und so hell, und ich bin meines Lebens froh gewesen, hab' ja gewußt wofür mir's Gott gegeben hat, und hab' ihm tausendmal im stillen dafür gedankt. Und ich kann mir's nun nimmer denken, ohne daß ich ihm lieb bin, ohne daß er mir lieb sein darf; (stürmisch) du mußt von ihm lassen! Warum denn gerade den, das einzige Herz, das ich mir von Gott erbeten hab'!
(p. 66)
Monica (griber hendes Haand og siger med sammenpresset, smertefuld Stemme) Vel, jeg vil da sige Dig, hvad man ellers kun med bankende Hjerte siger sin bedste Veninde: jeg elsker Valentin højere end Alt! Ofte har jeg spurgt mig selv hvortil jeg var i denne Verden. Til at slide og slæbe, det syntes mig for Lidt! da med Eet er der blevet mig klart, Tanken blev fra Gnist til Flamme, til Solen selv, saa varm og saa lys, og jeg blev glad ved Livet, jeg vidste jo hvorfor Gud havde givet mig det og i Stilhed takkede jeg ham tusinde Gange. - Jeg kan ikke anderledes end have ham kjær og han maa være mig god igjen! (heftig) Du maa slippe ham! hvorfor just ham! Det eneste Hjerte, jeg har bedet Gud forunde mig.
(p. 95)

A comparison shows features which are partly endemic in the process of translation, partly have to do with the original being more folksy and colloquial than Andersen's translation, which is more or less standard literary Danish as used in stage dialogue. The original reads more colourful and specific, the translation a little paler and more general. "Med bankende Hjerte" is more conventional than "mit Feuer auf der Wang'"; the repeated lively "schau" of the original is dropped, and "zehntausendmal lieber als ich mich selbst hab'" is reduced to "høiere end Alt". "Slide og slæbe" is again more neutral than "Heuen und Schneiden, Kochen und Wirtschaften". "Tanken blev fra Gnist til Flamme" is a fortunate turn of phrase but it is concentrated, almost axiomatic; it has an educated, poetic ring rather than the spontaneous paratactic statement of the German text: "da ist's wie ein Lämplein aufgegangen in mir und hat mir das Innere erleuchtet, immer heller und lichter". "Jeg kan ikke anderledes end have ham kjær og han maa være mig god igjen" is a not entirely accurate abbreviation of a text which means "Og nu kan jeg ikke forestille mig livet uden at han er mig god og uden at jeg maa have ham kær". These are not distorting changes, but they produce a less colourful and less colloquial text.

The additions tend to spell out things in more detail, whether in dialogue or in scene directions. The servant Franzl, gladly surprised that her mistress agrees to let her marry before her term of service is up, exclaims to her sweetheart: "Nein! Wolfgang!" (9), where Andersen makes her say "Nei, Wolfgang! hvor det er yndigt!" (12). When in a later scene Franzl, worrying about what looks like a disagreement between Monica and Valentin, says to Wolfgang: "naar bare Du er her og Du holder af mig, saa er Alt Godt" (84), the original continues "Wolfgang nickt" (58), which Andersen expands into "Wolfgang (taber sig i Beskuelse): Hvor Du er yndig at see paa! - Men nu har vi ventet! kom!" In the dramatic final scene, when Anna realises who stands before her, she says: "Sieh mich an, Mordbrenner! Kennst du mich?" (79). Strangely enough, Andersen omits the key word, Mordbrenner (something like "killer pyromaniac"), and simply says: "See paa mig! kjender Du mig?" (112). Andersen makes Anna recognise the Mordbrenner when she lifts a burning log from the open fire, an idea Mosenthal adopted for the Vienna production, too, as Andersen was pleased to report i Mit Livs Eventyr.2 Later on in the same scene, Mathias answers to her statement that he will have to render account for his deed: "Nein, nein! Und wenn's zehnmal wahr ist, was tust du gegen mich!" (79). With Andersen, it becomes rather over-explicit: "Nei, nei! jeg gjør det ikke! og hvad mægter Du? Jeg har afbrændt Ilsang-Smedie, ha! ha! det er Sandhed!". The scene directions are also spelled out more, even though hardly more convincingly. In Mosenthal: "Mathias geht rasch durch die offene Mitte", and, a moment later, "an dem Abgrund taumelnd, hat das hölzerne Kreuz erfaßt, das zusammenbrechend mit ihm versinkt" (80) - with Andersen: "Mathias gaar baglænges rask henimod den aabne Afgrund hun skriger høit, idet Mathias med Ryggen støder imod det gamle Kors, der styrter ned med ham". According to Andersen, the cross was a stone cross.

Andersen makes a half-hearted attempt to move the play from its Catholic Alpine surroundings. The name of the area, Achau, is avoided, the priest becomes a "Herr Pastor", the Ministranten (altar boys) "Chordrenge". The Lord's Prayer before the meal and the sign of the cross are omitted, although Monica is still allowed to have saints painted on the walls of her new house. Maybe the stone cross, more cairn-like, was thought to be less Catholic than Mosenthal's wooden cross.

But Andersen's main change was to turn a prose play into a syngespil, in true Danish fashion, with the vocal numbers at times sitting a little oddly on their realistic surroundings. I have listed them in the order in which they appear in the play, together with Andersen's references to the melodies to be used. These numbers are sometimes additional to Mosenthal's text, sometimes bits of dialogue freely transferred into verse; I have marked them accordingly on the list. It is not as if Andersen first wrote his verses and then found a melody to suit them, but in true vaudeville fashion, the music is the point of departure to which he fits his verse. A look at the musical right-hand side of the list reveals that the connection sometimes extends to the texts as well. "Siig hvad Arbeid du forstaaer" reads like a direct translation of "Sprich, was kannst Du!", which in Flotow's opera Martha introduces a similar scene (employing female servants), and a spinning song in Haydn's Seasons inspires Andersen to replace Mosenthal's Alpine "Heimatlied" - the only song in the play - with a spinning song. The melody of "Ich muß nun einmal singen", a song he heard Jenny Lind perform in Vienna during the same stay as when he saw Mosenthal's play, prompts a text which begins "O, som en Fugl jeg føler mig let" and soon states "I Sang jeg det maa juble ud". Valentin's song where he hints at his affection for Anna, "I Græsset jeg en Kløver saae" is connected in theme with "Min søde Brud, min unge Viv!", another Andersen text for which Rung used what is here described as a folk tune from Langeland but is now better known as the melody of "I Skovens dybe, stille Ro".

Vocal numbers and references to orchestral music in En Landsbyhistorie
A = Additional to dialogue; R = Replacing dialogue; RS = Replacing a different song
* Included in Vaudeviller opförte paa Kjøbenhavns Theatre, N° 22
Første Act
* Chor af Tiggere: Nær Bjergets rige Græsgang staaer A Slavisk Folkemelodi
* Karle og Piger: Gud, i Dig vor Gjerning skee! A Bøhmisk Folkemelodi
* Franzl: Jeg veed det, jeg erkjender R From Onslow's Le Colporteur: "Toujours de mon jeune age"
Crescenz/Wolfgang/Franzl/Chor (af Piger og Karle): Siig hvad Arbeid du forstaaer! R From Flotow's Martha: "Sprich, was kannst Du!"
Alle (Piger og Karle)/Crescenz/Wolfgang: Rundt om Spinderokken RS From Haydn's Aarstiderne: Spindevise/En steyrisk Dands
* Kedelflikkeren: Her er Mester Kedelflikker A From Beethoven's Fidelio: "Hat man nicht auch Geld beineben"
Mathias: Op med Glæden! From Hartmann/Gade's Et Folkesagn: "Hexe-Polka"

Anden Act
* Mathias: I Verden har man mig slængt hen R "Hans Naber, ick hebb et ju togebracht" [drinking song from Rügen]
* Mathias: Gaard og Grunker A "Meine Tochter Simone!"
* Valentin/Anna: I Græsset jeg en Kløver saae R Langelandsk Folkesang - Rung, "Min søde Brud, min unge Viv!"
Mathias: Mærk det vel, det er Dig R From Halévy's Jødinden: "Vous voulez votre sang"
(End of Act:) "Under Musik falder Tæppet hurtigt"

Tredie Act
(Beginning:) "Musikken fra Mellemacten udtrykker et idyllisk Bjergliv, den bliver endnu en kort Tid ved"
* Anna: O, som en Fugl jeg føler mig let! A Taubert, "Ich muß nun einmal singen"
* Franzl & Anna: Se hvor smukt Maanen staaer op! A Folkemelodi: "Stille Nacht"
* Valentin: Sidste Gang jeg Dig anraaber, hør mig i vor Afskeds Nat! R From Flotow's Martha: "The Last Rose"
(End of Act:) "Musiken gjentages, og under denne aabnes Døren paa Sennhytten, Anna sætter Foden ud, bliver da staaende, som naglet fast og trykker sit grædende Ansigt op imod Dørstolpen"

Fjerde Act
Mathias & Klokkeren/Chor: See der! De er nær! A From Boieldieu's Den lille Rødhætte
* Kedelflikkeren: Jeg født og baaret blev til Reisemand R Polsk folkemelodi: "Gdy a czystem"
* Valentin: Man Havets Dyb kan maale ud R "Orchestret spiller sagte Slutningen af Sangen medens Monica siger sin følgende Replik"
*Anna: Jeg trængte mig ikke ind i dit Hjem R From Gade's Mariotta: "I Hytten hist under Rankens Læ"
Valentin/Monica/Chor/Anna/Mathias: Nei, Du bliver! - jeg, jeg vil det! R/A From Spontini's Vestalinden

Femte Act
Anna: Sidste Gang jeg Dig anraaber R "Musik ledsager melodramatisk det Efterfølgende" From Flotow's Martha: "The Last Rose"
Anna/Valentin: Hvad mig kærest er paa Jorden, jeg fundet, vundet har! A From Flotow's Martha: "The Last Rose"

Andersen tried to find melodies to fit in with the folksy character of the play. He took his musical material from all over the place, the foreign folk tunes possibly from Berggreen's first four Folkesange collections that appeared between 1842 and 1855 (at least the Polish tune, for which the initial words are given, can be found there), most of the other melodies from contemporary opera. The freshest musical item, apart from Taubert's song, was the witches' polka from Hartmann's and Gade's ballet Et Folkesagn, which was first performed in March, 1854. Flotow's Martha had been introduced in the 1852-53 season, Gade's Mariotta was by that time five years old; the romance "I Hytten hist under Rankens Læ" had been published separately already in 1849. Gaspare Spontini's Vestalinden from 1807 was only performed three times on Det Kongelige in 1844, and Georges Onslow's Skovhuggerens Søn must by then have been an old memory; it was only played, in Heiberg's translation, towards the end of 1828. Whereas Boieldieu's Le Petit Chaperon Rouge and Halévy's La Juive were old favourites on the Royal Theatre.

Thirteen of the twenty-one vocal numbers were subsequently published as No. 22 in Lose & Delbanco's series Vaudeviller opförte paa Kjøbenhavns Theatre, arrangerede for Pianoforte med Text; these are marked on the list by an asterisk. "Dramatic" scenes involving a number of singers were omitted; two numbers require two singers, eleven are for one voice only or for a choir singing as one body. It is not clear why only two of Mathias' four songs were included; was it assumed that middle-class girls, who were probably the largest group of potential users since singing and playing the piano were an almost indispensible part of their education at the time, would not wish to identify with an amoral and alcoholic villain?

At this stage, participants in the 1996 Andersen conference broke into song, rendering the vocal numbers for which the tunes are still well-known, Stille Nacht for "Se hvor smukt / Maanen staaer op", I Skovens dybe, stille Ro for "I Græsset jeg en Kløver saae", and The Last Rose for "Sidste Gang jeg Dig anraaber". This, the well-known Irish folk tune to Thomas Moore's poem which Flotow's Martha had spread on the Continent, is turned by Andersen into something like a leitmotiv of Valentin and Anna's love story towards the end of the play. It is Valentin's plea to Anna at the end of Act III, when he has followed her to the mountain pasture. In Act V, as she reaches the same spot when driven away from Solhvervsgaarden, she remembers Valentin's words and repeats the first two lines before continuing with words of her own, explaining why she rejected him (p. 107):

"Sidste Gang jeg Dig anraaber! hør mig i vor Afskeds Nat!
"Giv et Tegn, om selv kun dette, at jeg er Dig en Forhadt.
"Anna! Anna!" - O, hvor bad han! - ei jeg turde høre ham.
Thi jeg maatte ham jo frelse fra min Skjændsel og min Skam!
Jeg paa Ilsang-Smedie tænkte, og i Smerte holdt jeg ud;
Han gik bort, jeg stod i Taarer - inderligt jeg bad til Gud,
I Medlidenheden for ham - nei, nu først jeg Navnet veed!
Al for tung - ei til at bære, er al min Elendighed.

A comparison with Mosenthal's prose monologue shows that Andersen perserved all the essential elements of Anna's memories and reasoning while the descriptive elements and the metaphors are mostly lost (p. 75):

Da, da ist das Fenster, wo er stand, wo er rief, wo ich am Sims lehnte, die Hand auf den Mund gepreßt, daß er mich nicht atmen hören möcht', und wie er rief: "Anna, liebe Anna! Höre mich!" da hab ich laut gebet't, um ihn nicht zu hören; und wie er ging, wie es mich zu der Tür dahin riß, da hab' ich mir das Bild heraufgezogen, von jener Schreckensnacht am Ilsangbrand - da hat's mir noch bei Zeit die Füß' angenagelt, und er war gerettet von mir und meiner Schand'. (Bewegter) Und wie er fort war, da trieb's mich hinaus, ich hätt' gern die Nacht zum Tag gemacht, um zu wissen, wo er wär', ich hab' mich niedergekniet da an dem Kreuz, die Händ' emporgehoben, als wollt' ich dem lieben Gott um den Hals fallen, daß er nicht zugeben möcht', daß er ein Leid nähm', und hab' gemeint, das sei Mitleid, das sei die Not, daß wegen meiner nicht noch Einer, noch ein Dritter, sich ein Leid's antät', hab' nicht gewußt, was da drin verschlossen lag, fest wie in einem Knösplein: weh, jetzt haben sie's mit Gewalt aufgerissen, jetzt weiß ich - daß ich elender bin als je.

Finally, two lines in a much happier mood, "Hvad mig kjærest er paa Jorden, jeg fundet, vundet har! / A! min Sorg er nu til Ende og min Fremtid lys og klar", are sung to the same tune by the united couple, at the end of the play, while in Mosenthal, the lovers simply exclaim each other's names and fall into each other's arms.

As is to be expected, the texts of the less virtuous characters show a little more bite. The villain Matthias has three songs in Act II; here is one where his hedonistic philosophy is expressed most concisely, sung to a very simple tune, at a moment when he anticipates that he might be the owner of Solhvervsgaarden. It is entirely Andersen's addition (p. 48 f).

Gaard og Grunker Jeg vil stadse,
Gjør til Junker, Jeg vil knase,
Ja, til Alt hvad Du vil Jeg vil drikke mig fuld!
Al Glans og Ære Ret gjøde Kroppen,
Er dog kun Blære, Saa knalder Proppen.
Penge maa der være! Nu er jeg paa Toppen!

A journeyman or tradesman describing his life and work in song form, sometimes with jocular hyperbole, is a familiar appearance on the 19th century stage, especially in Vienna; a classic example is Raimund's joiner's song in Der Verschwender. Here is the song Andersen wrote as an introduction for the itinerant tinker; again, it is entirely his invention (p. 26):

Her er Mester Kedelflikker Jeg vandt Kedelflikker Prisen
Ret et inderligt Gemyt! Alt i mine unge Aar,
Alt hvad Gammelt der henligger Jeg veed Nyt, som vist Avisen
Gjør jeg ligestrax til Nyt. Aldrig nogensinde faaer!
Mens Gryder og Kedler og Potter i Rad Thi kommer omkring mig, I Store og Smaa,
Jeg lodder og flikker og flenger, Min Kreds just forstaaer jeg at samle;
Jeg mætte Dig skal med Nyhedens Mad, Hver Slag I hører min Hammer at slaae,
Til den just heroppe I trænger. Gjør strax noget Nyt af det Gamle,
En rig Velsignelse jeg har, Hvert Knæk og Bræk er strax istand,
Jeg bare ned i Posen ta'er. Jeg er en rigtig Reisemand.
Om Kjævl og Vrøvl og Kjærlighed, En god Avis i Egnen her,
Jeg grundigt veed og ikke veed Thi er jeg inderligen kjær
Besked! Enhver!

And finally, two examples of ensemble songs which, with their dramatic interaction, give the situation an additional liveliness. The first one, from the Act I (pp. 19f), shows the reaction of the servants on the farm to the newcomer. It is a very free adaptation of the German texts (pp. 14f) and clearly inspired by Flotow's ensemble scene, not quite appropriate at this juncture as Anna has not asked for work but only for a place to stay for the night.

Siig hvad Arbeid Du forstaaer!
Kan Du spinde, Garnet vinde,
Kornet meie, Neget binde?
Over Kræfterne det gaaer!

Hjemme hun vist Ondt har prøvet!
Kjærlighed gjør tidt bedrøvet.
Værre Ting er her vist skeet.
Lad os spørge, lad os vide,
Hvad er Grund til hendes Qvide -?
Hvad har hun vel maattet lide?
Sie hat gewiß eine böse Stiefmutter daheim!
Oder hätt' vielleicht einen nehmen sollen, den
sie nicht mag.
Oder sonst was! Wer weiß, was so eine
angestellt hat.
God hun er, det har jeg seet!
- Du!
Du har Øine! - Du kan kjende!
Hovmod har hun! see paa hende!
Tiggertøs! opblæst og dum!
Naa, nu faaer hun! Crescenz skjender!
Om jeg ret den Gamle kjender,
Jeg kan tænke, at det ender
Med at Pigen må herfra.
Her er daarligt, ikke sandt?
Du er hjemme bedre vant?
Hjemme - hvor? - Det Gud maa vide!
Du er mæt af - Gud maa vide!
Stumme Helgen! - Du maa lide!
Naar det spørges - svarer da!
Hvorfra er Du? Hvorhen vil Du?
Staaer det ikke rigtigt til nu?
Svar dog ei med Nei og Ja!
Sie sieht so gut aus.
Ja, du verstehst dich drauf; der
Hochmuts-teufel schaut ihr bei den Augen
heraus, (halblaut) der Betteldirn!
Na, jetzt wird sie warm.

The next scene is from Act IV, when things come to a head. Anna has been sent away by Monica and is about to leave; Valentin tries to stop her, Monica tries to stop him from stopping her, and the bystanders act, in Andersen's musical rendering, in the manner of a Greek chorus, while Mosenthal intended the melodrama to be acted out.

Anna (der et Øieblik stod som forstenet, hæver Øinene til Himlen, vender sig om for at gaae fra dem Alle, idet de vige tilbage for hende) Anna (die einen Moment starr gestanden, die Augen zum Himmel erhoben, wendet sich durch die rings Zurückweichenden zum Gehen)
Valentin (der stod som naglet fast udbryder i Lidenskab og griber hendes Haand)
Nei, Du bliver! - jeg, jeg vil det!
Valentin(der wie gefesselt gestanden, plötzlich)
Halt! Du bleibst, ich laß dich nicht gehen.(Er faßt ihre Hand)
Gud i Himlen! - ei du veed det!
Angst og Skræk betager mig!
Skyldfri er hun! - Hvo tør hende krænke?
Jeg taaler det ei! - o bliv!
Med hvad Ret!
Ingen har jeg - og bør betænke,
Jeg selv er fremmed; - det er jo det!
Vel, jeg bryder hver fremmed Lænke -
O Anna, tør jeg - (griber hendes Haand)
Ved den evige Gud!
Ei Du tør!
Din Magt er tilende
Med Dig, din Rigdom -
gjør jeg Brud! -
Fri jeg er - og jeg følger med hende!
Monica (hæver sig iveiret)
Du bliver! adlyder din Madmoders Bud!
Blive skal Du - min Magt Du kjende!
Valentin (ude af sig selv, ser med vildt
Blik paa hende)
Din Træl er jeg?
Anna (har vaklende naaet Høien, kaster
et brændende Blik mod Kirkens Dør, og iler
O, Anna - ! (Han vakler) - min Gud!
(Han synker halv til Jorden, Monica staaer
med Hænderne korslagte over Brystet)
Mathias (der er kommet tilsyne mellem
Mængden, som sky viger tilside for Anna, seer
paa hende med ond Glæde)
Fundet har jeg Den, jeg kan bruge!
Choret (paa samme Tid)
Onde Magter kun Sligt kan udruge!
Hvilken Angst! hvilken Skræk! Du, min Gud!
Bäuerin (entsetzt)
Valentin! Um Gott! - Du weißt nicht -
Valentin Ich weiß alles, sie ist rein wie
der Tag, und ich steh' für sie ein und ich duld'
nicht, daß sie beschämt und gekränkt wird. Anna,
du bleibst - ich halte dich fest - (Er hält ihre
beiden Hände)
Anna (steht starr wie eine Träumende)
Bäuerin (rasch) Mit welchem Recht -
Valentin Ich sie hier halten kann? Es ist
wahr, ich bin selbst fremd hier - aber das Recht,
mit ihr zu gehen, das steht mir wohl zu!
(Zitternd) Darf ich, Anna?
Anna (wie erwachend, reißt sich los)
Bäuerin Nein, du darfst nicht.
Valentin (außer sich) Du? Hab' ich dich
gefragt; (leise) meinst, weil du mir deine Hand anbot'st und deinen Hof, du kannst mich
zwingen, zu bleiben? Behalt's, ich bin frei, mein Weg geht mit ihr!
Bäuerin (gebieterisch) Unsinniger! du
bleibst! sag' ich! Meinst als Hochzeiter halt' ich
dich? Du bleibst mein Knecht und ich befehl'
dir's. (Auf den Hof deutend) Du bleibst!
Valentin (knirschend) Ha! (Er blickt
die Bäuerin wütend an und steht wie erstarrt)
Anna (hat wankend den Hügel erreicht,
wirft einen inbrünstigen Blick durch die
Kirchtür und eilt ab)
Valentin (sich wendend) Anna! (Er sinkt
wie gebrochen zurück)
Bäuerin (steht mit auf dem Herzen
geballten Händen)
Mathias (der zugleich mit den übrigen
aufgetreten und sichtbar geworden ist, als der
Kreis sich scheu zerteilte, sieht Anna mit
teuflischer Freude nach) Das ist die Rechte! (Er geht
ihr nach)

On the list of musical numbers I have reproduced some scene directions which show that Andersen saw the role of music not confined to vocal numbers. Instrumental music is mentioned at the end of Acts II and III and at the beginning of Act III, but in Acts IV and V also as background to the spoken word ind the manner of melodrama. As the text was published a week after the play had opened, I assumed that these remarks reflected the actual practice rather that the author's wish. Unfortunately I have no information on who wrote the music and how extensive it was, and Dan Fog, great authority though he is on Danish 19th century music, did not know either. Maybe some Andersen scholar or theatrical historian has the answer.

As a curiosity I may add that Andersen's adaptation was the first appearance of Mosenthal's play in print; he had received it from the author in manuscript form, and the first German book edition was not published until 1857. In a letter to Mosenthal Andersen expressed his belief that after its success in Copenhagen, the play would also be performed in Norway and Sweden.3 I am not aware of any performances in other Scandinavian countries, but this may merely be a non-specialist's ignorance.

Both the German original and Andersen's adaptation have been unavailable for the best part of a century. At a time when yesteryear's popular culture has been discovered as an invaluable source for social history, the history of taste and the history of mentality, a bilingual edition of the play with the music in piano-score form might be of interest to more than just the Andersen specialist.


1. Page numbers refer to: S. Hermann Mosenthal, Der Sonnwendhof, Leipzig, Philipp Reclam jun., 1908 (Universal-Bibliothek, 5042). En Landsbyhistorie, Folke-Skuespil i fem Acter efter S. H. Mosenthals "Der Sonnwendhof" med tildigtede Chor og Sange af H. C. Andersen, Kjøbenhavn, C. A. Reitzels Bo og Arvinger, 1855. back

2. H. Topsøe-Jensen's edition 1951, II, p. 157. back

3. "Jeg tør troe, at Stykket snart vil gaae til Norge og Sverrig med". Breve fra H. C. Andersen, København 1878, II, p. 317. back

Reproduction from the original issue of En Landsby historie.

Bibliographic information about the text:

Kuhn, Hans: "En Landsbyhistorie - Andersen's Forgotten Success Play" , In: Johan de Mylius, Aage Jørgensen and Viggo Hjørnager Pedersen (ed.): Hans Christian Andersen. A Poet in Time. Papers from the Second International Hans Christian Andersen Conference 29 July to 2 August 1996. The Hans Christian Andersen Center, Odense University, Odense University Press. 576 pages, Odense, Denmark 1999.