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WorksVocal SoloIch bin, du Ängstlicher

(Available May 2015.
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Ich bin, du Ängstlicher (I am, you anxious one)
Voice & String Quartet

Text: Rainer Maria Rilke
Language: German
Duration: 8 min.
Commissioned by: Katie Tripoli, soprano
Dedication: To Katie Tripoli, my friend in seeking and in finding
Premiere: April 26, 2002; Urness Recital Hall, St Olaf College, Northfield, MN
Published by: Abbie Betinis Music Co.
Catalog No.: Vocal/Piano: AB-013-V2 / Full score: AB-013-F2 / String Parts: AB-013-P2


mp3 excerpt, 0:48, 1 MB (from the premiere, 2002: Katie Tripoli, soprano)

Ich bin, du Ängstlicher Rainer Maria Rilke
Ich bin, du Ängstlicher. Hörst du mich nicht
mit allen meinen Sinnen an dir branden?
Meine Gefühle, welche Flügel fanden,
umkreisen weiß dein Angesicht.
Siehst du nicht meine Seele, wie sie dicht
vor dir in einem Kleid aus Stille steht?
Reift nicht mein mailiches Gebet
an deinem Blicke wie an einem Baum?

Wenn du der Träumer bist, bin ich dein Traum.
Doch wenn du wachen willst, bin ich dein Wille
und werde mächtig aller Herrlichkeit
und ründe mich wie eine Sternenstille
über der wunderlichen Stadt der Zeit.

- Rainer Maria Rilke (1899).
From Das Stunden-Buch (The Book of Hours), published 1905.

I am, you anxious one. Do you not hear me
with all my senses rush to claim you?
My feelings, which have found wings,
spin whitely about your countenance.
See you not my soul, how close it stands
in front of you in a garment of stillness?
Does not my Maytime prayer ripen
in your glance as upon a tree?

When you the dreamer be, I am your dream.
If only you would wake, I’d be your will,
and become master of all splendor
and I grow to a sphere, I am like still stars,
over the singular City of Time.

- rough trans. compiled by the composer from various translations

This poem is in the public domain, and may be reprinted from this website for use in concert programs and for promotional use as related to this musical work.


I'm always attracted to poems that have questions in them because they leave room for the music to become an important subtext. But I remember, at age 22, being particularly drawn to these questions -- from Rilke's collection of prayers in his slim, yet profound, Book of Hours. The eternal question "Do you hear me?" seems especially relevant to every generation, as we try to interpret our place in the order of things, and our relationship with the divine (and it to us, if indeed it has a relationship with us at all). I tried to write the music so that the musicians must interpret their roles… is the speaker God, providing comfort to the seeker? Or could the speaker be a humble human, created in God's image, reassuring God of her faith? Are the strings a character in themselves, a duet partner in the search for the divine, or something else entirely? I composed the music in my first year out of college, in that magic time where one leaves home and school to discover who she is. In this piece, I wondered out loud whether someone is out there answering our questions of existence and faith, or do these questions themselves echo so profoundly that even if the seeker hears only her own echo in reply -- whether or not she recognizes it as such -- perhaps she may be comforted purely by having asked the question.

~Abbie Betinis (2015)

Lindsay Bernhagen, Luther College, Decorah, IA
Cathy McCord Larsen and womenperformhers, Minneapolis, MN
Katie Tripoli, Senior Recital, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

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