English singing texts

It has been a general guiding principle since Art Song Central was founded that “singing translations” are to be avoided in most situations. This is in accordance with what I believe to be the overwhelmingly predominant aesthetic within the singing community today.

That was not the case in the early 20th century when many of the editions featured here were published. At the time, there was a strong sentiment that works should be performed in the language of the audience. Thus, many sources feature an English singing translation written in normal type below the notes, with the original text printed below it in italics, almost as an afterthought.

Increasingly, when this is the case, I have been stripping out the English words before publishing the song on ASC. My theory is that it avoids the distraction of a text that is simply not going to be used, and provides extra space to write in IPA or a word-by-word translation.

There are rare cases in which, at least in the United States, songs are still commonly sung in translation. This includes arias from some oratorios like Haydn’s Creation and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and a small number of songs. There are also some composers who set texts in a variety of languages, and I’m not always sure which language is the original. (This can be a problem with Tosti, in particular.) I will err on the side of inclusion if I think the singing translation may be desirable.

I’m interested in feedback on this. Is it worthwhile to take the time to strip out these translations? Will anybody miss them?