To welcome in the New Year, I went in search of something suitable. What I came back with, made me wonder yet again how we obtain some of the stock that sits on our shelves.

Neujahrsgrüsse empfindsamer Seelen, 1770-1800 (facsimile reprint 1922)

Neujahrsgrusse empfindsamer Seelen
The front cover – a little faded perhaps

Here we have a limited edition, hand-coloured facsimile printed in Germany not that long after the end of the first World War. Our copy is number 188 of 195 produced with a paper binding. The title is not that easy to translate: ’empfindsamer’ is given as ‘sensitive’ or ‘sentimental’, so it might be ‘New Year greetings to kindred souls’? My commentary will be limited, like my German. However, the illustrations and the design in this volume speak for themselves. Click on any of the images to get a more detailed view.

Der Postzug

The mail coach of the title is illustrated wonderfully in the title vignette, and the opening of the music does a good job of imitating the post horn calls.

Die Schiffahrt des Lebens

Life’s voyage is accompanied by my favourite illustration of the lot. Looking at the other page (quite apart from my already stated limited German), the flowing script of the songs increases my difficulties, and of course, the German isn’t current. In this song, the philosophical bent of the words is an added layer of confusion. The translation I got from an online tool isn’t worth repeating, except to say the first verse talks about life’s voyage taking a new course.

Rondo: Dir zu diesen Jahresfeste

Here each page of the music is heavily decorated: perhaps more obviously aimed at a young lady? A rondo to me is something quite sprightly, yet this one has the marking of ‘Sanst und feyerlich’ (or gentle and solemn, according to a translation). The first line roughly translates as ‘This New Year, my heart wishes you happiness.’

If you read music, take a closer look at the stave. I started to read this, then I stopped because the harmonies didn’t make any sense: a definite C major sense in the LH, contrasted with an E minor in the right. Looking hard at the clefs, I determined the bass clef was where I expected it, but the treble wasn’t. It looks as though the RH stave needs to be transposed down a major third. Weird.

Der Blumenstrauss

From looking at the picture, you’ll not be surprised to learn the title is The Bouquet. The pretty-looking canzonet starts like this:

Ein Sträusschen soll das Opfer sein Das ich Dir heute bringe


A posy is the offering I bring you today


This seems a good place to stop, though there are plenty of other pieces in this collection. Very best wishes for the New Year.