To A Wild Rose (Edward MacDowell)

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Last week I very briefly posted this clip over in the thread on "Wild Rose Of The Mountain". I decided to delete it there and start a new thread for this tune, as the two are only connected by a somewhat similar name and I didn't want to derail John's thread.

    "To A Wild Rose" is a 19th century parlour tune written by American romantic composer Edward MacDowell (1860-1908). It's the opening piece in a suite for piano called "Woodland sketches" (Op. 51) written in 1896, and is probably the tune for which MacDowell is mostly known now.

    While this was written as a piano piece by a classical composer, the character of the tune is by no means highbrow -- it's a very basic melody which is straightforward to play without technical difficulties and it does lend itself to a more folk-based approach on mandolin, freed from the formal constraints of piano music. Indeed. MacDowell's original playing instruction "with simple tenderness" does rather encourage a non-formal approach to performance.

    We play the tune with our mandolin ensemble, and I have put a scan of the lead melody part here:

    Link to sheet music

    I don't have the ABC or tab, but it's such a short and easy tune that transcribing it would not be too much work for those who don't want to try the sheet music itself. I think it's a very satisfying piece to play and I would welcome it if some of our talented group members were to try their hand. I recorded a fairly straight video a few months ago with tremolo throughout, more or less as we play it with the ensemble, but it's a very flexible piece and certainly can be played without tremolo, or with double stops , or with guitar backing -- our guitarist and our former lead soloist used to occasionally ham it up as a swing jazz instrumental and it worked surprisingly well!

    Here is my video, played on my 1915 Embergher bowlback:

  2. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Martin, Have taken your pdf of the music and made a quick abc file for anyone interested. I have not added any performance marks or other embellishments, but the abc can be used with your file to get all the markings as folk wish. It's an interesting tune with a great range of notes - from our lowest G to the E octave on first string!
    T:To A Wild Rose
    C:Edward MacDowell
    V:1 % voice 1
  3. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks a lot, John!

    I think I will record a more "folky" version on the weekend -- the all-tremolo doesn't quite do the tune justice if it's not backed up by our normal mandola and guitar harmony. I may use the Ajr with some doublestopping.

  4. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    It took a me a bit longer than anticipated, but here is my "folky" version of To A Wild Rose, played on my Ajr. Slightly faster than the Embergher version, and mostly played single-stroke with only a little sprinkle of tremolo here and there.

  5. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    I recorded two solo mandolin versions of this piece almost ten years ago. Here is a new one, with tenor guitar accompaniment -- I think this works better than the old ones.

    Edward MacDowell (1861-1908): Ten Woodland Sketches, Op. 51 (1896)
    1. To A Wild Rose
    "With simple tenderness"

    This little tune, originally for piano, is MacDowell's best-known composition. I'm playing it on mandolin in G major, to an arpeggio accompaniment on tenor guitar. It's often played slower than I do, but the composer's original tempo was 88 bpm.

    1890s Umberto Ceccherini mandolin
    Vintage Viaten tenor guitar

  6. Frithjof
    You play the melody as sweet as others you uploaded this weekend, Martin.
    Good decision to record an arpeggio accompaniment – it makes the music more complete.
  7. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks, Frithjof. The old 2011 solo versions at the start of this thread didn't really work -- it does need at least some accompaniment. I had forgotten they were still on my channel, but I've now taken them down. I also recorded a full quartet version in 2016 with all the parts from our group arrangement, but I think the new version with only mandolin and tenor guitar is preferable.

  8. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Your version here really suits the tune, Martin. A simple arrangement and only two instruments gives the melody the space to shine.
  9. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    What a lovely tune Martin!
    I like the way you give shade and colours to the melody, and I agree with John, the two instruments work well providing each other with space and contrast.
  10. Christian DP
    Christian DP
    The Italian mandolin really shines i your hands Martin!
  11. Gelsenbury
    Brilliant! I think this is one of your best ... and you've done many! The accompaniment works very well, and you play the melody with a lot of skill and expression.
  12. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks for those lovely comments. This is a great tune to play, because of its very simplicity. MacDowell apparently said it's best played (on the piano) by children as adults would always overelaborate.

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