Song texts & translations

Toivo Kuula, (1883 - 1918) op. 31a, no. 1(1917)

Purjein kuutamolla / Sailing in the moonlight

Paula Wilder-Gaubert, soprano Daniel Lockert, piano

Recital Programme

Violin seahorse & mermaid

October 11, 18, 2015


Sailing in moonlight

Air-maiden with blue-wings,

guide our little sailing boat,

guide it over black waters

towards home.

Calm with your smile

the black arms of the sea

so that our little sailing-boat

may arrive over the vast waters.

Touch with your white finger

the sailing boat's pair of masts.

The ocean’s hidden rocks

can break our fragile boat.

Air-maiden with blue-wings

guide our little sailing boat

towards home.

Toivo Kuula postage stamp issued in Finland in 1983 to commemorate of the centenary of the composer’s  birth

Robert Wilhelm Ekman (1808 –1873), Ilmatar (1860)

«Ilman impi» as is written in this song, «Ilmatar», (daughter or maiden of the ether) and «Luonotar» daughter of nature, all refer to the goddess who gave birth to the world, as told in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.  The tragically short-lived composer, Toivo Kuula, who briefly studied with Sibelius, composed many pieces to poetry inspired by the Kalevala however in this song,  «Ilman impi»- -is invoked poetically as a goddess capable of calming the sea, as a French sailor might invoke the Virgin Mary. This song, written in 1917, a year  before Kuula was killed in mysterious circumstances during the aftermath of the Finnish civil war, is arguably the most beautiful of Kuula’s songs. Kuula traveled to France in 1909 to study with Marcel Labay, and greatly admired Debussy. Critics admit an ‘impressionist influence’ in Kuula’s music, which perhaps you will hear .

background : Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900) Storm on the sea on a moonlit night

Purjein kuutamolla

Ilman impi sinisiipi,

johda purtta pientä,

johda yli mustan veen

kohti kotinientä.

Rauhoittaos hymylläsi

musta meren syli,

jotta pääsee pursi pieni

suurten vetten yli.

Koske valkosormellasi

purren mastopariin,

ettei särkyis pursi hento

meren salakariin.

Ilman impi, sinisiipi,

johda purtta pientä

kohti kotinientä.

Karl William Westerberg (1880-1944), as "Kalle Vuokoski"