Ave Maria by Franz Schubert, arranged for concert band by Frank
Ticheli. Hear streaming audio on this page. Suitable for high school through
college bands, and community bands, 4 1/2 minutes duration, Grade 3.
Performance by USC Thornton Wind Ensemble, reading session conducted
by the composer. Subsequent to the recording, the opening measures were
slightly re-scored for the published version.
Scroll down for program notes & instrumentation
With the possible exception of Mozart, no other composer in the history
of music ever surpassed Franz Schubert's genius for melodic writing. His
lieder (art songs for voice and piano) were composed at an astonishing
rate, and number in the hundreds. Some of Vienna's greatest singers were
his closest friends, and he took pleasure in creating his songs for them.
One of his most well-known songs, "Ave Maria," was composed in
1825 when he was 28 years old.
In my setting, I considered carefully the problem of translating piano
music to the wind medium without compromising the dignity and beauty of
the original. To have simply transferred the piano part literally to the
winds would have resulted in a timid and thin sound. For me, the solution
was to find and connect the multiple melodic layers implied by the piano
figurations, creating a richer, more polyphonic texture suitable to the
winds. I had lots of fun dissecting and re-assembling the piece, and I
took occasional liberties in the process, but I never strayed far from
the basic harmonic structure of the original, and I strove hard to preserve
a Schubertian elegance and grace.
There are other differences between the two versions. In Schubert's
setting, three verses of text are set to the same music. With the absence
of the text in my version, it seemed sufficient to state the verse only
twice, and it seemed necessary to find other ways to control and vary the
dramatic flow. I took liberties with the octave placement of the melody,
and rather than repeat the second verse literally, I constructed it as
a subtle variation of the first. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, I
changed the basic pulse of the original from the eighth-note to the quarter
for greater ease on the eye.
Even without its text, Schubert's song sounds more devotional than
virtually anything he ever composed. I kept this at the front of my mind
throughout the creative process. Above all, I hope my setting reflects
the profound sense of reverence and humility expressed in the original.
HYMN TO THE VIRGIN.
Ave Maria! maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild,
Thou canst save amidst despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banished, outcast, and reviled -
Maiden, hear a maiden's prayer!
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share,
Shall seem with down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden, hear a maiden's prayer!
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria! Stainless styled!
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer!
And for a father hear a child!
The Hymn to the Virgin is from Canto Third of the epic poem,
The Lady in the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott (published 1810). The
original text set to music by Schubert is a German translation by Adam
Storck of this very text. In Scott's poem, the Hymn is spoken by
Ellen Douglas, the daughter of the leader of the powerful Highland clan
Douglas, Lord James of Douglas, before a battle between King James V of
Scotland (father of Mary, Queen of Scots) and her father, Lord James. In
the song she asks for the protection of the Virgin Mary. The original title
of Schubert's song is Ellens III Gesang, "Hymne an die Jungfrau"
(Ellen's third Song, "Hymn to the Virgin"), Op. 52, No.
6, D. 839, published in 1826, and known the world over simply as Ave
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death.
Ave Maria is the Catholic prayer honoring the Blessed Virgin.
The prayer (shown above in Latin and in English) has existed since ca.
1450-1500, although alternative forms date to the 11th Century. It is this
Latin prayer that is most often sung today with Schubert's music.