Song of the Week: Estrellita

by - April 16, 2007

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from a somewhat different genre featuring classical composer Manuel Ponce's famous ballad Estrellita. Written in the early 20th century, Estrellita became a unique sensation quickly working its way into the lexicon of Mexican folk songs.

Originally set to Spanish lyrics, the song tells the story of a female voice who confides in her little star about the hidden love she feels for an unnamed man- a love which may ultimately carry her to the grave. Ponce takes the monologue (which could easily be viewed as a prayer of sorts), and sets it against an opening melody that quickly covers an entire octave. The resonant strains of the violin carry the line to greater heights reminding the listener of the confidence being communicated to the star solitaire.

 The melody remains at all points both tender and intense.

The song was eventually made famous among western audiences when performed by the renown violinist Jascha Heifetz in the 1939 Archie Mayo film They Shall Have Music. A clip of the Heifetz rendition can be heard below - presumably as extracted from the movie. Lyrics in Spanish and English follow. Enjoy!



Estrellita
Estrellita del lejano cielo,
que miras mi dolor,
que sabes mi sufrir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.

¡Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor!
Tu sabes que pronto he de morir.
Baja y dime
si me quiere un poco,
porque yo no puedo sin su amor vivir.


Estrellita
Little star of the distant sky,
you see my pain,
you know my anguish.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

You are my star, my beacon of love!
You know that soon I shall die.
Come down and tell me
if he loves me a little,
because I cannot live without his love.

Update 09/22/08: This post remains one of the more popular songs of the week we've done, so I felt it needed an update.

To wit, the original video once posted above is no more. But I've also included a stunning rendition of Estrellita by violinist Joshua Bell. Enjoy!

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