Schmid, Regula (2011). Luaged, vo Bergen u Thal: das Lied als Erinnerungsort. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geschichte, 61(3):269-289.
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Pierre Nora’s groundbreaking project “Les lieux de mémoire” has triggered numerous studies examining the role of places, objects, customs, and intellectual concepts as focal points of collective memories. Songs and musical performance have had a similar function for the development of group identities. In the 19th century, the heyday of modern nation building, songs were considered of utmost importance for promoting patriotic ideals amongst the masses. However, relatively few songs – mostly national anthems – have been the subject of historiographical discourse, and rarely have the impact of both text and melody been taken equally into account. This article analyses the origins and destiny of one of the best-loved Swiss German songs, and asks how melody, text, author, composer, their public, and the social and political context intertwined, thereby making the song a medium of identity and a rallying point of national memory. The “Evening song of the Wehrli boys in Hofwyl” with its first line “Look!, from mountains and valley, flee the rays of the sun” was created in 1826 by two young teachers in the reform-pedagogical Fellenberg institute near Bern. In text, melody, and purpose, the song encapsulates the main socio-political program of an early, romantic nationalism that aimed at liberating the people by leading it back to its simple, presumedly lost alpine roots. The lasting success of the ‘Abendlied’ is explained by the interplay of text and highly crafted melody evoking quintessential Swiss symbols – mountains, cows, bells, yodelling –, while putting the singer in the position of a marvelling child, and by a reception history that has continued emphasizing the indissoluble trinity of nature, family, and God as the nostalgic core of true Swissness.
|Item Type:||Journal Article, refereed, original work|
|Communities & Collections:||06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History|
|Deposited On:||25 May 2012 10:56|
|Last Modified:||21 May 2013 07:34|
|Free access at:||Related URL. An embargo period may apply.|
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