Jonas Müthing Baetge

Chorfantasie über »O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig«

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During my first two years at the music university in Karlsruhe I had the great pleasure to participate in the lessons of Peter-Michael Riehm, a great music theorist, composer and teacher. He opened my eyes to very special aspects of music and aesthetics in general. Sadly he died very suddenly in January 2007, just before I was about to begin studying music theory with him.
One of the things he taught me was about the nature of real folk music. To explain this he used two German christmas carols: O Tannenbaum and O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig. The theme of both carols is the fact that fir tress do not lose their leaves in winter. Their character however is very different: While O Tannenbaum almost resembles a march with its strong, punctuated rhythm, O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig is much softer, following the shape of a fir with its melody. Right at the beginning it leaps upwards – just like a tree trunk – followed by a slow descent which takes nearly the shape of branches.
The Chorfantasie is based on this song, I wrote it as a dedication to Peter-Michael Riehm.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig,
den Sommer, den Sommer
das dau’rt die liebe Zeit

Warum sollt’ ich nicht grünen,
da ich noch grünen kann?
Ich hab’ nicht Vater noch Mutter
die mich versorgen kann.

Und der mich kann versorgen,
das ist der Erde Schoß/liebe Gott,
der lässt mich wachsen und grünen,
drum bin ich stark und groß.