Carla Ramsey


Adelaide, CD, imprinting, Beethoven, Jussi Bjorling


1f you w.mt a lifetime companion of the feathered variety, all you have to do is show up when a duckling hatches. By a neural process known as "imprinting," the baby bird will bond to and faithfully follow the first object it sees- whether it's mama duck, a human, or even the family dog- upon emerging from its shell. Perhaps you have had a similar experience with a favorite piece of music: you became "imprinted' by the first performance you were exposed to, to such an extent that it subconsciously became the standard by which you judge all others. In my case, a first exposure to Beethoven's "Adelaide" (and to JB) was via a CD of his 1958 Carnegie Hall concert. Having fallen in love with this miraculous voice, I soon thereafter purchased the four-CD EMl set through which I discovered JB's 1939 version of the song. But what a difference! Compared to the 1958 performance, this rendition sounded to my ears somewhat sentimental and overwrought. Had I, like the baby duckling, simply become "imprinted" by the first version I was exposed to, irrationally preferring it to all others? Or was my musical intuition correct in telling me chat the 1958 performance was, indeed, superior? Were there intermediary interpretations in the years between the two performances? These were the questions I decided to explore by investigating the four extant versions of the song in ]B's recorded legacy.

Included in

Music Commons