Rigths sold: Japan
Format 120x205 Hardcover
EUR 14,90 / sFr 26,80
published in Januar 2002
Silent Night! Holy Night! The Story of a Song
The fascinating story of the world-famous Christmas carol – conscientiously researched and vividly presented.
On Christmas Eve 1818, the carol Silent night, holy night was first heard in public in Oberndorf, near Salzburg – with guitar accompaniment, since the organ in the church of St. Nicholas was out of order. At the time, no-one could have foreseen that this piece would one day be world-famous, translated into some 150 languages.
The story of its composition was for a long time surrounded by myths and misconceptions. It was thought that the song had been written in the Zillertal, as asserted at a performance in Leipzig in 1832. When the first printed version appeared in Dresden a year later, it was regarded as "a true Tyrolean song". The opinion was repeatedly expressed that Franz Xaver Gruber could not possibly be the composer, but that both words and music were by Joseph Mohr. This assumption persisted; it was voiced even during Gruber's lifetime, was taken up by Karl Heinrich Waggerl, for instance, and was even postulated again recently by several researchers.
Revelations from the latest findings are narrated here by Werner Thuswaldner: how in Mariapfarr in 1816 the priest Joseph Mohr wrote the poem for which the teacher Franz Gruber composed the melody in the Arnsberg schoolhouse in autumn 1818. There were hard times ahead: after the Napoleonic Wars, Salzburg finally lost its independence; shipping on the Salzach – a vital nerve of the economy – was in recession. No-one realised that a song had just been written which was to go round the world. But even at the Vienna World Exhibition of 1873, it appeared in a songbook in the American pavilion as "a chorale from Salzburg", and it still touches people's hearts today.
Werner Thuswaldner, born in Carinthia in 1942, trained as a technician, graduated in German studies and history at Salzburg University, and is head of the arts section of the Salzburger Nachrichten daily newspaper. He has written works for stage and radio. His novel Pittersberg was published in 2000.